Artist Residence on Bringing Art into the hotel scene
It was all kind of by chance! Justin’s Mum was in an accident when we were at uni (thankfully she is fully recovered now) so Justin left early to be by her side and look after the family B&B. He was literally standing on the doorstep offering passers-by accommodation to help boost business, and when he managed to fill the guesthouse I think he got a little kick from it. I joined him in Brighton after uni and soon got the bug too – for us there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing our guests have an amazing time and leaving with a smile!
We started thinking of ways we could transform the business, as it was a little bit run down and we had very little budget to work with. Inspired by the creative community in Brighton, we put out an ad for artists to come and decorate the place in exchange for board and the response was huge! For a while we had artists coming and going, painting on every surface imaginable. It was all pretty chaotic and sometimes a bit of a mess, but those early days helped us stand out in the crowd and shaped Artist Residence as it is today. We still work closely with some fantastic artists - Ben Eine, Pure Evil, The Connor Brothers, Jessica Albarn and Maria Rivans to name a few — so it’s still a big part of our identity, but we’ve also learnt a lot about delivering a really special guest experience alongside this.
For something a little different, our friend Andy Doig is a neon artist who has an incredible neon studio and gallery on Brighton seafront and it’s well worth a visit. You can even book onto a workshop to make your own neon! One of our favourite things to do in Penzance is to visit the Minack Theatre, which has been carved out of the cliffs at Porthcurno beach — it’s probably the most dramatic theatre backdrop there is. For Oxford, we’d suggest going to Worton Organic Garden. Its really unassuming when you arrive, but has some of the freshest food we’ve had in the area. I love how simple and natural the food is, which is all grown from its seven acre garden. You can also buy their produce from the farm shop. It’s definitely not glossy, but so peaceful and relaxing.
It’s the heartbeat of our brand. We currently have a collection of 12 limited edition art prints which has been curated by Jealous gallery in East London especially for our guests, so that they can shop some of the art that features in our places. All profit from this is donated to Art Against Knives, a London-based charity doing some really important work to bring creative spaces and projects to youth communities in London that are most at risk of becoming involved in violent crime. We’ve just had Pure Evil and Ben Eine down at our Brighton hotel to do some new murals in some of the bedrooms, and we have an upcoming charity dinner & auction with the Connor Brothers in London. In Bristol, we’re working on curating the art collection with local artists like Kedals and Rose Vickers. We’re always looking for ways to bring the art to life for our guests through events in our places.
We hope so! We choose art with one simple goal – to make people feel good. That might be through something funny, colourful, nostalgic, or something that makes you stop for a double take. We want our walls to be a talking point for our guests, something to make them smile and to make their experience with us more memorable.
We are so excited to be opening in Bristol, it’s always been one of our favourite cities as it feels really vibrant and creative. The boot factory is an incredible building – it’s part Georgian townhouse and part boot factory, so it has a really interesting combination of Georgian features; like original cornicing and floor to ceiling windows, juxtaposed with the big industrial sliding metal doors. It will have 23 bedrooms and will be a neighbourhood hangout with coffee shop, bar, kitchen, event space, and garden; serving simple, honest food and drink all day, every day. We can’t wait to open this summer!
The best thing is that I get to see Justin a lot! We both are really passionate about making Artist Residence the best place to stay, eat, and drink which means that our work is joined with our home-life. Plus it is amazing to share such a big passion to grow the company together. The worst bit is that sometimes it is difficult to switch off, but we have definitely got better at this over the years!
We love going on weekend breaks. We recently went to the Fife Arms in Scotland – their art collection is amazing! My dad spends part of the year in Cape Town so we had a great time visiting him over Christmas. I love how it is super relaxing, but has a great buzz at the same time, with loads of outdoor activities to unwind as well as energise.
The Pig, Hoxton, Ace, Soho House and Standard hotels have given us so much inspiration! One of my favourite stays was at The Standard at Miami – I just loved how magical, bohemian, and vibrant everything was. Robin Hutson from The Pig is definitely someone we really look up to who has given us some great advice and. We love their 25-mile radius food ethos, as well as how relaxing all of their places are. Soho House is always amazing – their design is incredible! A little further afield we love the interiors of Bunk House in Texasand Urban Cowboy in Nashville and Brooklyn.
Because we accidentally stumbled into hospitality, we probably naturally do things a little differently to bigger hotel chains. Hopefully, this helps us stand out with a more personable, homely feel to our places. We like to design our places with an element of the unusual to create little moments of surprise for our guests through art, signage, and reclaimed furnishings.