These Hotel Frescoes Are Worthy of the Sistine Chapel

If these hotel walls could talk, they’d paint you a picture.


Hotels with priceless art collections? They’re a dime a dozen (and worth every penny). However, a precious lot feature the type of museum-worthy moving art that can’t actually be moved at all—it’s painted right on the wall. Frescoes and murals, some old, some new, upend the typical collections along restaurant walls and guest-room ceilings. They range from 16th-century frescoes worthy of Vatican City’s St. Peter’s Basilica to hot-ticket 20th-century graphics that could just as easily be on loan from MoMA.

Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Lake Como, Italy

Photo: Courtesy of Grand Hotel Tremezzo

Think of Villa Sola Cabiati as Grand Hotel Tremezzo’s aristocratic annex. The 18th-century villa, long reserved for private events, recently joined the hotel, offering exclusive guest-only bookings. Original frescoes and stuccoes flaunt the masterwork of Francesco Conegliani and are themed around a different type of masterpiece: Virgil’s Aeneid.

Tivoli Palacio de Seteais Hotel, Sintra, Portugal

Photo: Courtesy of Tivoli Palacio De Seteais Hotel

Perched on the mountainside of Sintra just 20 minutes from Lisbon, Tivoli Palacio De Seteais Hotelswoons with 18th-century frescoes—many of which are attributed to French painter Jean Baptiste Pillement—throughout the neoclassical palace.

ITC Maurya, New Delhi

Photo: Courtesy of ITC Maurya

A rare homage to architecture from India’s ancient Mauryan Dynasty, ITC Maurya not only houses a coveted trove of Indian art, but takes it to new heights: The Procession of Life, a mural by artist Krishen Khanna, soars along the lobby’s tiered wooden dome.

Grand Hotel Continental, Siena, Italy

Photo: Giovanni Rinaldi / Courtesy of Starhotels Collezione

Representing Siena’s only five-star, Grand Hotel Continental is the latest custodian of a former 17th-century Renaissance residence. Rising above terra-cotta floors, original, restored frescoes bring touches of trompe l’oeil, as walls and ceilings appear to be marble colonnades and gilded cornices—all cast in paint.

Hôtel Royal, Évian-les-Bains, France

Photo: Guillaume de Laubier / Courtesy of Hôtel Royal

Originally commissioned in 1905 by the Evian mineral water company, the Belle Époque palace Hôtel Royal features a Grand Salon awash in neo-Baroque frescoes painted by Gustave Louis Jaulmes (the same French artist who decorated Paris’ Musée Rodin).

Costaguti Experience, Rome

Photo: Giulia Venanzi / Courtesy of Costaguti Experience

It’s perhaps as close as one can get to sleeping in St. Peter’s Basilica: Rome’s just-opened Costaguti Experience, a five-bedroom aparthotel, has pockets of 16th- and 17th-century frescoes from the likes of the Zuccari brothers. For centuries, the delicate frescoes were secreted away in the private palazzo, still owned by descendants of its original, noble tenants.

The Palmer House, Chicago

Photo: Courtesy of The Palmer House

In the heart of Chicago, the Palmer House starts with a European stroke: The lobby’s ceiling resounds with Grecian frescoes painted by French muralist Louis Pierre Rigal—all lit by 24-karat Tiffany chandeliers.

Downtown México, Mexico City

Photo: Courtesy of Design Hotels

The name belies nothing about its location—Downtown México, a design boutique set within a 17th-century residence, sits right in Mexico City’s historic center. Opt for breakfast alfresco, and you’ll get just what you ordered: The patio surrounds The Holocaust, a moving—if not macabre—fresco by the late 20th-century Mexico muralist Manuel Rodríguez Lozano.

Freehand New York, NYC

Photo: Adrian Gaut

Inside Manhattan’s just-opened Freehand New York, the Roman and Williams–designed hotel boasts art commissioned from students and alumni of Bard College. Throughout the hotel’s 395 guest rooms, ten artists painted custom murals using mixed media—most used paint, but a handful chose sealed charcoal, while a playful bunch worked in waterproof crayon.

Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles, L.A.

Photo: Courtesy of Ace Hotels

Los Angeles’ Haas Brothers—twin designers with a double dose of whimsy, and no strangers to the art world—left their mark right on Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles walls. The brothers’ hand-drawn murals wander along walls in the lobby and restaurant, like high-style graffiti depicting hieroglyphics inspired by La-La Land (expect a few psychedelic references).

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