The art was overwhelming, it was everywhere and I was wandering the hallways happily taking photos of everything. While this would be appropriate in an art museum, I was a guest at the hotel, specifically The Henry Jones Art Hotel in Hobart, Tasmania. Tasmania is an Australian island a short flight from Melbourne and Sydney and one stop on my RTW trip. With a rotating art collection of over 400 works of contemporary art scattered throughout the hallways, common areas and hotel rooms, I felt that this was more art gallery than hotel (there are only 56 rooms) and it was pretty cool to be staying here. Showcasing emerging and established Tasmania artists, this is truly a local gem for art enthusiasts and collectors. The fact that it is also a luxury boutique hotel is a bonus!
The Henry Jones Art Hotel is located in a converted number of warehouses formerly the ILX Jam Factory along the Hobart waterfront. The restaurants and markets of Salamanca are a short (10 minutes) walk away. The local sightseeing and MONA (wait to you read about that art museum!) boats are steps from the hotel. It was a fabulous location for my quick three day visit.
Lobby – Arrival
I walked into the hotel with my bags and was happily greeted by the front desk staff. As the hotel is small and was full the night before, a room was not ready for my early arrival so they stored my bags. The staff was able to book my tours for my stay and provided good information of the area before I left to explore the area. They don’t get many American guests so I was a bit of an oddity but had a lovely chat with the front desk girl who had just returned from a visit to New York City. The lobby itself is packed full of art that constantly changes – the black and red leather furniture blended well with the stone and wood throughout the area.
My Standard Room
When I returned from lunch, my room was ready and the bags had been delivered to my room. Escorted to the room by staff , we walked the halls and I was distracted on both sides by the art and wanted to linger longer. We reached my room with the number glowing on the floor and as we entered, I was pleasantly surprised that the standard room looked exactly like the website. I was even more surprised that I had a harbour view. I was able to just relax, open the window and look at the waterfront.
The room was large with art (expensive – thousands of AUS dollars expensive) on the walls, high beamed ceilings with the timber framing structures (a throwback to the history of the warehouse). The bed was comfortable with closet space on the side of the headboard and counter space behind. Despite a bit of noise from the waterfront at night (I did keep the window open otherwise the double paned glass kept things quiet), it was easy to sleep.
I had a sofa seating area, a work desk and good (free) wifi internet coverage in the room. The minibar was compact but amply filled with treats on two pull out shelves. Why I didn’t eat the Tim Tams when I had the chance?
The bathroom was a contemporary pod square of glass (frosted so no see through, no worries). With a walk in shower and Molton Brown toiletries (my inner hotel chipmunk was thrilled) this was a 5 star bathroom.
Breakfast starts at 7am but as I needed to leave by 7:15 am for tours, the staff took my order the night before so that when I arrived my food was ready which was quite helpful. I didn’t partake in the buffet, instead ordering ala carte.
The IXL Bar was busy during my stay as there were work groups/conference attendees. I visited during a quite time for wine and dessert and had a lovely conversation with an Australian couple and the bartender about the American Thanksgiving tradition (I was spending my Thanksgiving a week later in Paris). Since the hotel generally caters to Australians, the American Girl (me, not the doll) was a bit of interest to folks.
Common Areas – Lobby/Hallways
Full of Art! Guests tend not to walk too fast as they stop to admire the art. Bonus is that you can buy the art to take home with you (Australian residents can take advantage of the twelve month interest free loans to buy art) but sadly that is a souvenir I could neither afford nor fit in my bag. The hallways as they are part of the restored warehouses go up and down stairs, around corners, and through passageways so the maze of hallways is an attraction in itself!
The Henry Jones Art Hotel Tour
On Fridays, the hotel provides a tour of the art led by the gallery curator. She welcomed us with a glass of bubbly at the top of the ornate staircase and explained the history of the hotel. She then explained how the procure the art to display (many from the local art school) and proceeded to lead us through the hotel stopping at various points in the collection to provide more insight. Knowing the background and influences of an artist always helps me try to understand the artists’ work better. This tour was such a great highlight to me as a hotel guest (non-guests can take the tour too).
I had a few issues, nothing major, with housekeeping. The first was that I used the Molton Brown toiletries but left the empty boxes to refill rather than throw out (trying to be green) – they were not refilled at all during the stay. The other was when I was using the hairdryer and pointed it up toward the wood beams – dust flew off – now this is out of the reach of the normal person so not sure if a housekeeping issue or engineering issue.
I had contacted the concierge was ahead of time (2 months) and he responded with great recommendations for me to research before I arrived. The concierge page of the website is fantastic with great information – more than most hotel websites will list. The team was super friendly and attentive to ensure that I was having a good visit, despite the 3 of 4 days of rain. The hotel has umbrellas at the door to use.
The Henry Jones Art Hotel is such a fun concept supporting local artists in Tasmania – it really blurs the line between luxury boutique hotel and art gallery with sleeping rooms. The location is wonderful for a first time visitor who likes to walk to explore the city. The staff were friendly throughout my stay making me feel welcome so far from home. The rooms are expensive (just like the art) with a standard room in November this year starting at $420 AUS. I was able to splurge on the hotel (not that I didn’t question myself and the cost more than once) only because I was using points on my round the world Australia trip and had saved elsewhere.