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Painted Rooms at Hotel Des Arts

A Room with a View

Despite small rooms and a so-so location, the Hotel Des Arts has carved out a niche for itself in the city's boutique hotel market by allowing emerging artists full artistic control in painting a number of the hotels' rooms. The local talent is particularly well suited to large-scale wall painting. Graffiti art has a strong presence in the area and mural painting is widespread and well supported in San Francisco. The prevailing aesthetic is flat and graphic, a style easy to render in latex house paints. The artists whose work is featured on the walls of the hotel are not the Piero della Francesca's of our time, but they do serve up some fun and funky accommodations for the hip, budget conscious traveler.

An ode to sex and the color pink Buff Monster's Room 303 could be advertised as "Best room to screw in", at the Hotel Des Arts. Stylized images of breasts and ejaculate are cartoon-like and playful, tempering the wall's aggressive command to "Lick it Up Bitch". Jeremy Fish employs a similar artistic strategy, this time balancing humor with the macabre with his famous combination of cutesy bunnies and foreboding skulls. In a background painted cool shades of blue and white it takes a while for the incongruity of men riding winged skulls and commandeering skull pirate ships to take hold. Ever the perfectionist, Fish even designed his own wallpaper to cover the room's furniture including the bed frame and dresser.

Sam Flores and Jet Martinez put the "lux" in Deluxe Queen accommodations, creating beautiful, intricate tableaus in Room 204 and 208. "Golden Midnight" features an exotic tropical landscape of gold leaf on lapis blue walls coaxing the traveler into sleep with visions of a South Pacific paradise. Sam Flores luxuriously painted room could entice one to spend the entire day in their pajamas soaking in his scenes of women in large billowing kimonos, thickets of twisting vines and flowers at their feet.

Ever thought of visiting your eccentric Uncle Al at his isolated Appalachia cabin in the woods? Room 307 designed by Anthony Skirvin could give you a good idea of what it would look like. A large photo of just such a cabin takes up one wall, while another is piled high with junk, including rusty tools, broken electronics, and Life magazines. Not just a "painted room" Skirvin has created an elaborate environment that is, oddly enough, comfy not creepy. The room comes highly recommended to the adventurous tourist unafraid of a totally immersive experience.

For boarders looking for something a little more subdued, rooms designed by Klutch of Vinyl Killers and MATSU-MTP are tasteful without loosing their artistic integrity. Klutch's Room 406 includes dozens of his well-known stencil paintings on vinyl records as well as loose stencil work executed directly on the wall. In Room 401 the subtle humor of the gender neutral faces painted above the headboards of the double beds matches the equally subdued color palette. The artist MATSU-MTP kept the walls their original beige and, mixing every color used in the hotel, came up with a group of neutral, low-key colors in cream, peach, and olive green.

You don't have to book a room to take a peek. When a new batch of rooms is done they host an opening reception, with an ice cream truck parked in front offering free frosty treats!

Painted Rooms at Hotel Des Arts