There are hotels with dedicated art galleries in their premises, and then there are hotels that could very well pass off for art galleries themselves. Node Hotel, the new 25-room boutique property on a quiet street in Kyoto’s Shijo Nishinotoin neighbourhood, clearly belongs to the latter.
This narrow five-storey structure comes designed by Seiichiro Takeuchi, the architect behind projects such as the private house-meets-hotel Machiya Hotel. Starting from a facade of glass and concrete, walk in to be greeted by a monochrome painting by Tomoo Gokita hanging behind the stark grey front desk — it’s manned by hip young staff in collarless black shirts, so you know this is a cool place.
Designed to resemble an intimate gallery space, guests are surrounded by art wherever they go, down to the furnishings (look out for the amethyst bar counter near the entrance hall) and amenities. Here, works by Haruna Kawai, who creates imaginary three-dimensional figures, are displayed alongside other rising stars and veteran artists — Hiroshi Sugimoto, Nobuyoshi Araki, Barry McGee, and Cy Twombly among them. A long table runs through the heart of the space, drawing your eyes up to the double-height ceiling and a green vertical garden at the back.
The guest rooms, spanning the second to fifth floors, are decorated in soothing grey tones from the walls and ceilings to the bedding. Even the yukata-style loungewear are dyed a deep charcoal, with the only colour in the rooms provided by vivid artworks. The more lively furniture, like the handmade ceramic table lamps and oversized beds, also serve as the perfect foil against the contemporary matte grey. These are created by Indian Creek Fete, the Kyoto furniture design company co-owned by Daisuke Enomoto. Fun fact: he’s also the man who led the hotel’s art curation.
As you might expect, the whole property is one gigantic creative space for pop-up shops, long-term exhibitions, and events. The point, as we understand it, is to create a borderless atmosphere and distinctive ambience for guests to interact with the thoughts and ideas of those with a story to tell. At the very least, even if Node Hotel isn’t technically an art gallery, it’s like the home of an art collector.
Node Hotel is located at 461 Toroyama-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8225, p. +81 75 221 8800. Rates start from US$116 per night.