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WESTERN TRAVEL

Art: It's what's beyond the bed and bath

October 09, 2005|Hope Hamashige

Just about everyone's stayed in a hotel where a Monet print behind plexiglass is expected to pass for fine art. Art is too often an afterthought, but now some hotels are putting impressive collections on display in an effort to lure art lovers on the road.

Old guard:

Sagebrush Inn

Taos, N.M.

On Display:

Much of this collection came from the artists who have stayed here since 1930, including such notable New Mexicans as R.C. Gorman, Joseph Imhof and Robert Daughters. Georgia O'Keeffe lived here in the 1930s but left nothing behind.

The Downside: Techno-savvy travelers look elsewhere. Rooms have kiva fireplaces and antique wood furniture but no high-speed Internet access or flat-screen TVs.

The Details: Rooms range from $85 to $165 a night, breakfast included.

(800) 428-3626, www.sagebrushinn.com.

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New entrant:

Hotel des Arts

San Francisco

On Display: Each of the 51 rooms is stylish, but 36 are unique artistic universes. Emerging local artists painted the walls, doors, even furniture -- giving the hotel a decidedly downtown aesthetic.

The Downside: The art, and perhaps the location on Union Square, is the central attraction. There is no restaurant, bar or gym, and rooms have microwaves instead of mini-bars.

The Details: Doubles with a shared bath start at $89. Doubles with private baths, $99-$150. Suites, $109-$150. (800) 956-4322,

www.sfhoteldesarts.com.

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Opening Saturday:

Hotel Max

Seattle

On Display: Prints by Seattle photographers, including Charles Peterson's images of the grunge music scene, cover guest room doors. Surprising pieces are everywhere -- even the elevators will be adorned by artist Tony Evanko.

The Downside: Rooms are a tight squeeze. At 163 square feet, they are a little like visiting New York, but in Seattle.

The Details: Through December, rates begin at $129 a night. In January, prices jump, starting at $249 a night. (866) 833-6299, www.hotelmaxseattle.com.

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Gearing up:

Hotel Solamar

San Diego

On Display: Its first major work, a piece by Rafael Lopez, was recently installed in the lobby. By January, the hotel plans to have two galleries up and running.

The Downside: The pool-deck bar draws huge crowds and may not appeal to serenity-seekers.

The Details: $209 to $349 a night. (877) 230-0300,

www.hotelsolamar.com.

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