There have been plenty of news articles about the theft of hotel items, but one chain of luxury hotels in Australia is actually encouraging it. Each of the Art Series Hotels in Melbourne is named after a well-known artist and aims to attract art lovers, seekers of culture, corporate travellers and those who enjoy the good life. From December 15, 2011 to January 15, 2012 they are also encouraging those with a slight criminal tendency to book a room.
Guests are being challenged to steal an original artwork by Banksy, best known for his graffiti-style. Those caught in the act will simply have to admit defeat and rehang the painting, but anyone who gets clean away with the painting gets to keep the AUS$15,000 signed masterpiece as the prize. The challenge was to lift the Banksy original “No Ball Games” and two female guests did indeed use all their cunning and guile to persuade the staff to actually load the painting into their car on December 19, claiming it had to be moved to another hotel.
Previous failed attempts including guests hacking into the CCTV system; placing a listening device beneath the Reception desk and countless requests for false housekeeping issues in a vain attempt to get staff to leave the painting unattended.
The Art Theft challenge continues with a second Banksy original now hanging. Guests have until January 15 to make off with “Pulp Fiction”, by fair means or foul!
The luxury hotel in London, the Savoy, has played host to celebrities of all kinds – from Oscar Wilde to John Wayne, from Winston Churchill to Marilyn Monroe.
It was also a favourite spot for Monet, who painted his celebrated landscapes of the River Thames from one of the hotel’s rooms around the turn of the 20th century. The 21st century hotel celebrated this with the offer of The Monet Suite at around £720 ($1,040) a night.
Now, however, scientists have analysed the French Impressionist’s paintings and discovered that he actually stayed in the rooms adjacent to the Monet Suite at the luxury hotel.
For his paintings of Waterloo Bridge, the scientists discovered that he used a balcony on the fifth floor of the hotel as his vantage point – specifically rooms 510 and 511. They’ve been able to calculate this by comparing his work with that of his artist friend James Whistler, who had painted Waterloo Bridge from the sixth floor. The hotel, however, opened the Monet Suite in rooms 512 and 513.
The Savoy admitted that the actual rooms in which Monet stayed could not be converted into suites. The hotel’s archivist, Susan Scott, said: “Monet actually shared a bathroom with three other rooms and his rooms were only made ensuite in a refit in 1910 when the balconies were removed to make space. When we created a Monet suite, the only way to do a suite was to move along one.”
The luxury hotel has been closed for a £100 million refit since 2007 and is due to re-open in September. Ms Scott said the Monet Suite would then be in the exact rooms.
by Andy Moreton
Paint the town red! Choose a luxury hotel in London from Luxique’s comprehensive list and read our Top Destination guide.
The ancient wall painting fragments that caused a feud between Egypt and the Louvre Museum in Paris (see my article Luxor Relics Repatriated ) have been returned to Cairo.
The five frescoed pieces – believed to be from a 3,200-year-old tomb in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor – arrived by air last week.
French officials had maintained that the Louvre had acquired the fragments, known as steles, in good faith. But Egypt’s antiquities department said the Louvre bought the fragments in 2000 and 2003 despite knowing they’d been stolen in the 1980s. It broke off ties with the museum in October, saying they would be restored only when the fragments had been returned.
Egypt is stepping up demands for the restitution of many relics, including the Rosetta Stone, on display in the British Museum, and the bust of Queen Nefertiti in the Neues Museum in Berlin.
“Everything which was stolen from us should be given back,” said Zawi Hawass, the head of the antiquities department.
by Andy Moreton
If you’re travelling to Luxor to see the wonders of the Valley of the Kings, take a look at Luxique’s two selected luxury hotels: the Old Winter Palace and the Hotel La Moudira.
Artist Carl Warner has taken the London skyline and recreated it using 26 types of fruit and vegetables.
Tourists will be very familiar with the real Houses of Parliament – these are made from asparagus, green beans and runner beans.
Nelson’s column is represented by cucumber, baby courgettes, a carrot, monkey nuts and almond, while the London Eye has been built with green beans as its spokes and baby plum tomatoes as the pods. 30 St Mary Axe – better known to Londoners as ‘The Gherkin’ because of its shape – is crafted not from a gherkin but from two types of melon.
The top of St Paul’s Cathedral’s dome has been given a fruity new look, thanks to roundels of carrots, yellow and green courgettes and baby leeks.
The unusual art was commissioned by the Good Food Channel.
by Andy Moreton
Luxique’s Top Destination guide will help you get the best from your visit to the UK capital and we have a hand-picked selection of the finest luxury London hotels.
France has said it will return to Egypt five relics stolen from a tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor and sold to the Louvre museum in Paris.
A special commission of the French museums agency decided unanimously to give back the five painted wall fragments from the 3,200-year-old tomb. They were taken in the 1980s and ended up at the Louvre in 2000 and 2003.
Egypt’s antiquities authority had accused Louvre officials of knowing the pieces had been illegally imported when they bought them. The museum insists they were acquired in good faith.
Relations had become so strained that the Egyptians announced that they would suspend co-operation with the Louvre, which would have stopped work on an archaeological dig on the necropolis of Saqqara, south of the capital, Cairo.
by Andy Moreton
If you’re travelling to Luxor to see the wonders of the Valley of the Kings, check out Luxique’s two selected luxury hotels: the Old Winter Palace and the Hotel La Moudira.
There’s been a warning that the ornate tombs built for the pharaohs in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens could vanish within 150 to 500 years, partly because of tourism.
Apparently, the breath of thousands of tourists every day, coupled with poor ventilation, is damaging the carvings and painted decorations inside the chambers.
Egypt’s authorities have taken action to protect the tombs by implementing new ventilation systems and setting a cap on visitor numbers.
For the long term, it’s been decided that some original tombs will eventually be closed to tourists and replaced with replicas. These could include the most visited - those of the boy king, Tutenkhamun, and Queen Nefertiti.
“A team of experts is currently using laser technology to examine these tombs in order to build the replicas, which would then open to visitors in a place near the Valley of the Kings,” said Zahi Hawass, the Head of Antiquities.
by Andy Moreton
Luxique has carefully selected seven of the best luxury hotels in Egypt for your trip of a lifetime, including the sumptuous Al Moudira in Luxor - only two-and-a-half miles from the Valley of the Kings.
Visitors to Berlin this year will find the artwork on the largest remaining section of the Wall brighter and more colourful than usual.
The reason is that the artists who created the murals have been asked to re-do them in time for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Wall in November.
The 4,265 ft stretch of wall, the world’s longest open-air art gallery, was decorated by 118 artists from 21 countries in 1990 and was declared a historic monument by the Berlin city government in 1992.
The East Side Gallery, as it’s known, has become one of the city’s top attractions, but it’s been damaged by the weather, exhaust fumes, vandals and souvenir-seeking tourists.
The head of the artists’ association at the East Side Gallery, Kani Alavi, said four of the original artists had set to work and another 82 had promised to participate.
But some artists have refused to join in the effort and are demanding 15,000 euros (£13,000 / $20,000) in compensation instead of the 3,000 euros (£2,600 / $3,800) on offer, arguing that they have not received a fair share of the Gallery’s earnings over the years.
by Andy Moreton
Events are going on in Berlin throughout 2009, culminating in a grand public party at the Brandenburg Gate on the actual anniversary of the fall of the Wall (November 9). If you’re planning a visit, browse Luxique’s selection of luxury Berlin hotels, including the celebrated Adlon Kempinksi.