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How Hotel Art Affects Ratings


Principal & Co-Founder Curate Art Group

Ever wonder how a hotel receives a star or diamond rating? It may surprise you, but details like the art on the walls affects how a hotel is rated. If you own or manage a hotel, art is one of the easiest ways to update an interior and potentially boost your rating.

Private agencies visit hotels and review them on a scale, from the lowest rating, meaning only bare necessities—such as a bed and a bathroom—all the way up to hotels where guests never lift a finger, with full waitstaff, a high-end restaurant and luxurious spa on a beautifully designed property. Some high-end hotels require a 2.5 ratio of staff to rooms, or even higher. Agencies can vary by country, and each have a set of specific criteria, though ultimately they agree on the core tenets.

AAA Diamond Ratings And Art

AAA is one organization that assigns ratings, using a diamond scale. In recent years, AAA has implemented a few changes, merging 1 Diamond and 2 Diamond status into Approved. As defined by AAA, the rating levels are as follows:

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• Approved: Noteworthy by meeting the industry-leading standards

• 3 Diamond: Comprehensive amenities, style and comfort level

• 4 Diamond: Upscale style and amenities enhanced with the right touch of service

• 5 Diamond: World-class luxury, amenities and indulgence for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Inspectors have a rubric and check a list while rating hotels. With the arrival of Covid-19, judges are more flexible about reviewing areas of a hotel that are temporarily closed, such as pools or restaurants. In some ways, they are more lenient and understanding. But in other ways, there are now fewer factors for them to use as a basis for a rating, so inspectors are more likely to rely on other elements, including art and decor.

When I have spoken with AAA on the topic, they stated that art plays a fairly significant role in establishing Diamond levels. Inspectors review both public spaces and guest rooms to rank how well the art enhances the decor as a whole. AAA mentioned that when inspectors are scoring decorative enhancements, they ask themselves whether the property chose common artwork or prioritized unique and upscale works, such as local artists and offerings.

Art Requirements For AAA Diamond Ratings:

• Approved: Common artwork with enhanced frames, or other modest appointments. Examples: live plants, floral displays, prints, assorted pieces, sculptures, accent wall, water feaures, fireplace.

• 3 Diamond: Well-coordinated, decorative framed artwork or appointments that provide distinctive appeal. (Same examples as above.)

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• 4 Diamond: Well-coordinated, decorative framed artwork or a varied assortment of appointments that provides a distinctive or thematic upscale appeal. (Same examples as above.)

• 5 Diamond: Well-coordinated decorative framed artwork or a varied assortment of styles and accent pieces that provide a leading-edge or luxurious appeal. Examples: custom artwork, limited-edition prints, canvas art, tapestries or lithographs with enhanced matting and preservation frames, assorted artisan pieces, sculptures.

These standards apply to both guest rooms and public spaces, and include bathrooms. Some inspectors look for multiple pieces of art in the restroom alone! Hospitality design incorporates the idea that guests have experiences in bathrooms as well as other spaces, and hotels should create impactful experiences in all areas of their properties. Mirrors and furniture also have their own requirements for custom and enhanced features.

Selecting Hotel Art To Improve Your Ratings:

With so many options, how does one begin thinking about curating an art collection that will contribute to a hotel’s rating? These are some ideas:

• Multiple mediums in each room: Think beyond just paper. This can be as simple as also using canvas, but might also mean showcasing sculptural wall art, such as pieces made from wood, metal, resin or a local material. If space is limited, the headboard is an easy place to create an art moment. Fiber art like tapestries, quilts and rope is another great option. It’s ideal to have at least three mediums in a room.

• Various finishing styles: Alongside traditional framing methods, consider deckling (hand-tearing) paper edges for a bespoke feel. Create variety in matting, such as thick, exagerated matting, printing on the matting or no matting at all. Use a shadow-box frame. A float frame is an attractive option for wrapped canvas. Consider a mix of frame finishes such as wood tone, white or black and a metallic finish.

• Uniqueness: This means art that is uncommon, crafted specifically for the hotel, limited edition and/or handmade originals. Uniqueness can be showcased by asking the artist to write edition numbers on each piece. Hand touches can also be added to artwork, like a signature or a brushed gloss finish. Unique art can also be achieved by asking an artist to design a piece specifically for the hotel.

• Local: Work with creatives local to the hotel to display what your region specifically offers. This might also mean showcasing a local craft or material. For example, in the Bahamas, the straw market is a key attraction, so a hotel might use straw baskets and feature other straw crafts. As a starting point, ask yourself: What creativity does my location offer?

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These techniques can be applied to facilities at all levels. Any hotel can mix frame styles and curate local, unique works for the walls. If designing or renovating a hotel, make sure you include multiple mediums and at least one local option per space. Next time you’re in a museum or high-end hotel, count the variety of art offerings for inspiration. These art considerations will not only increase your ratings, but also delight and enrich your guests.


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