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Fall 2008 | Hotels We Love: Artful Accommodations

Fall 2008 | Hotels We Love: Artful Accommodations

There's no room for cookie-cutter paintings at these hip hotels where LGBT artists add to the colorful mix.

Using an 1889 stone-and-brick Richardsonian Romanesque?style property as the backdrop and local artists as collaborators, lesbian film-video artist Christina Zeidler developed the Gladstone Hotel (416-531-4635; from US$186) into a funky, homo-friendly hangout on Queen Street West, a.k.a. ?Queer West.? The 37 artist-decorated rooms befit the neighborhood?s status as an edgier LGBT alternative to Toronto?s Gay Village. These urban sanctuaries might share the bones of the historic building -- wood floors, high ceilings -- but each bears the stamp of its creator, chosen through a juried submission process. Cozy up in a gay artist?s design by booking the crimson and black Biker Room, Andrew Harwood?s nod to Easy Rider; the lavender and poster-laden Teen Queen by Cecelia Berkovic; the fairy tale?meets?lesbian separatist commune of Allyson Mitchell?s Faux Naturelle; Ghost Design?s sexy Blue Line Room, awash in cobalt (bonus: two custom-embroidered comforters let you select your ?bedmate?s? gender); or the larger, eponymously named Billio Room, an opulent red and gold tribute to the hotel?s history. Nonstarving artsy types should head to the two-story Tower Suite (US$478) designed by Zeidler and her mother, where the 360-degree city and Lake Ontario views from the turret bedroom serve as a moving canvas. Need a nightlife fix? The lobby?s Melody Bar, home to the DJ-driven Wednesday night gay party Hump Day Bump, snappily satisfies.

Lancaster, Pa.
Pennsylvania Dutch country might not top most queer must-do lists, but sometimes it?s important to think outside the frame. Lancaster, the oldest inland U.S. city, not only boasts more than 70 galleries, theaters, and art studios amid its 18th-century brick architecture, but also a museum dedicated to native son Charles Demuth (1883?1935), a Precisionist painter who explored his queer identity through art at a time when ?gay? was rarely uttered. To soak up this creative spirit, check into the Lancaster Arts Hotel (866-720-2787; from $159), an 1881 tobacco warehouse reimagined in fall 2006 as boutique lodging and showplace for local artists. Stay like artistic royalty in the 700-square-foot Charles Demuth suite ($349), with French doors, bedroom hot tub, and prints capturing the artist?s modernist twists on pastoral Lancaster County. The Demuth package adds a book on him, notecards, and a private tour of the Demuth Museum, located in his former King Street home and painting studio. Should Expressionist urges strike, stroll less than a mile south of the hotel to the gay dance bar Tally-Ho Tavern.

Louisville, Ky.
If a picture is worth 1,000 words, the 21C Museum Hotel (877-217-6400; from $159) is the accommodation equivalent of War and Peace: an upscale 90-room property with 9,000 square feet of gallery space. Emphasizing that this is no one-horse-race town, 21C (as in 21st century) joined Louisville?s downtown renaissance in 2006, taking over four 19th-century warehouses and a former bank in the historic West Main Street District. Cutting-edge modern art saturates the space, from the luxe rooms -- with amenities like guest-customized iPods and silver mint julep cups -- to the video lounge and free museum, featuring the most daring artists, like photographer Andres Serrano. Given the boundary-pushing art, to say the hotel is gay-friendly feels superfluous. Nowhere is this more evident than in its palette-pleasing Italian-meets-the South restaurant Proof on Main where the chic, mixed crowd can view 16 black-and-white images of porn star?turned?sexologist Annie Sprinkle?s performance art piece Bosom Ballet. (Sprinkle performed the piece at a 21C Museum benefit in 2007 and conducted a sidewalk sex clinic with her life partner, Elizabeth Stephens.) 21C is also a convenient launching pad for a night at gay video lounge Starbase Q and gay dance club Connection, both mere blocks away.

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