8 Artsy Florida Hotels to Inspire Creative Travel
By: Jodi Mailander Farrell
Some hotels leave a chocolate on your pillow. These places promise something sweeter: Local culture.
With art exhibits and collections incorporated into their interior design, painting classes, live music, special access to museums and other fine arts perks, an increasing number of arts-centric hotels around Florida are curating creative overnight stays for travelers.
The Alfond Inn, Winter Park
300 E. New England Ave., Winter Park, 407-998-8090.
Alfond Inn, a 112-room boutique hotel owned by Rollins College, displays more than 240 rotating pieces of 21st century art donated by alums Barbara and Ted Alfond, including photos and paintings by Tracey Emin, Joseph Kosuth, Steve McCurry and Maya Lin. Free, guided tours occur regularly by reservation. Net operating income from the hotel, opened in 2013, feeds a college scholarship fund. The Alfond is within walking distance of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, the Polasek Musem & Sculpture Gardens and the Charles Hosmer More Museum of American Art, which has the most extensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany in the world.
Le Méridien, Tampa
601 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, 813-221-9555.
Situated in the city’s downtown arts and entertainment district, Le Méridien is a 130-room boutique hotel that is a work of art itself: It’s a converted, Beaux-Arts federal courthouse over a century old. The modern interior is at home amid preserved features, such as marble floors, three-story Corinthian columns at the entrance and a judge’s bench whittled down to serve as a front desk. The historic landmark partners with the Tampa Museum of Art, four blocks away, so guests can access the museum free of charge by presenting their artist-designed key card. It’s also close to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts and Tampa Theatre.
Marker Resort, Key West
200 William St., Key West, 305-501-5193.
The only newly built hotel in Old Town in 20 years, the 96-room Marker Resort sports whimsical sculptures by celebrated Keys artists, such as Adam Russell and John Martini, on its grounds. The resort collaborates with the Studios of Key West on an art program that features poolside painting and drawing lessons with visiting artists. Live music and film screenings by the pool are also part of the experience at the modern, comfortable hotel facing Historic Seaport.
1401 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, 941-870-0900.
Downtown Sarasota’s trendy new hotel targets young movers-and-shakers with fast, free Wi-Fi, a grab-and-go food bar, a pets-welcome policy and local art. The 10-floor Aloft Sarasota partners with the city’s Ringling College of Art and Design to showcase work from faculty and students. Rotating art in the lobby is available for purchase and includes a biography of each artist. Art and messages also are projected at night on the outdoor courtyard wall, and local bands play in the lounge-like lobby’s bar. The 139-room hotel is within easy driving distance of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and the Ringling Museum of Art.
The Sagamore Hotel, Miami Beach
1671 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-535-8088.
Dubbed “Art Hotel,” The Sagamore Hotel in South Beach opened in 2001, a year before Art Basel started its uber-famous Florida art fair outpost. American art photographer Spencer Tunick famously photographed one of his group nude series on the pool deck in 2007. A bold collection of modern paintings, sculptures and photography pops in the bright-white public spaces, quotes by artists line the halls, and video installations stream in the screening room. Within walking distance to New World Center concert hall, The Bass art museum, Lincoln Road Mall and the Miami Beach Convention Center, where Art Basel Miami Beach takes place, the Sagamore is like sleeping in a private gallery in the heart of Miami’s most sophisticated art scene.
Casa Monica Resort & Spa, St. Augustine
95 Cordova St., St. Augustine, 904-827-1888.
Revisit America’s Gilded Age at the castle-like Casa Monica Resort & Spa, which has its own Grand Bohemian gallery off the ornate lobby. Opened in 1888, it’s one of the oldest hotels in the United States. The Spanish Baroque resort has an eclectic art collection established by hotelier/art enthusiast Richard C. Kessler that includes more than 100 contemporary paintings, glass art, jewelry and ceramics. The 138-room resort hosts exhibits and artist receptions, and its lounge features live jazz and soul music. Next door is the Lightner Museum, an 1888 hotel built by Henry Flagler that houses a fine collection of decorative 19th century art.
WaterColor Inn & Resort, Santa Rosa Beach
34 Goldenrod Circle, Santa Rosa Beach, 877-353-5239.
Home to outdoor art, music and film festivals, WaterColor in North Florida is a family-friendly, 499-acre lakeside resort that integrates activities for kids into its annual cultural events. It has 60 beachfront rooms, a marina park amphitheater, private beach, six pools, shops, and hiking and biking trails. The resort’s award-winning restaurant, Fish Out of Water, is one of the venues for South Walton’s popular 30A Songwriters Festival held every January.
Sundy House, Delray Beach
106 S. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach, 561-272-5678.
With each of the 12 rooms hand-painted by artists in the Caribbean tradition, the Sundy House is the oldest home in the city, built out of Dade County pine in 1902 by Delray’s first mayor. The Victorian, Queen Anne-style building was a church, bank and schoolhouse before it became an inn. Its surrounding, one-acre botanical garden is open to local artists, who regularly pitch their easels on the serene grounds. The inn is near galleries and Old School Square, a cultural center with its own theater, museum and outdoor concert pavilion.