Artful sleeps: 3 Gallery-esque Hotels in Western Canada

L-R: Hotel Arts, Renaissance Edmonton Airport, Skwachays Lodge
L-R: The stylish lobby of Hotel Arts, peekaboo into Halo Bar & Bistoro Renaissance Edmonton Airport, the exterior of Skwachays Lodge

I love a stylish slumber – a stay at a hip hotel that not only includes the comfort of high quality bedding or considered conveniences (think: bar fridge, room service menu, free wifi), but also curated aesthetics. Hotels might be there to party/sleep/love but they’re also a great place to be inspired/amazed/stimulated.

A artful hotel can be vibrate with the brash, independent art undercurrent of its hometown. Or it can be a homage to the masters. Or maybe it embodies a theme of place via room design and vibe. The three hotels below do all of these easily.

Author Joan Didion once said: “Of course great hotels have always been social ideas, flawless mirrors to the particular societies they service.” The three hotels below are mirrors of their city’s arty atmospheres. Whether you’re a winter-loving jet-setter, a honky-tonky hipster or anthropological wanderer, these properties are worth at least a night if not five: The Renaissance Edmonton Airport, Hotel Arts in Calgary and Skwachays Lodge in Vancouver.

When it comes to ooh-la-la factor, each of these art-filled abodes are as different as they come in terms of layout, ethos and locale. Join me for a wee tour of what it’s like to sleep in an art gallery, art hotel.

The Renaissance Edmonton Airport



Nothing says curiously arctic like gleaming geodes of light.
Nothing says curiously arctic like gleaming geodes of light.
Halo Bar features cool blues and greys - a wintery, northern palette for sure.
Halo Bar features cool blues and greys – a wintery, northern palette for sure.

The vibe: Ice, ice baby. This hotel’s theme is curious arctic with over 37 different ice/cold inspired finishes throughout. Whether it’s the sparkly, silver bar stools or the crinkled, asymmetrical mirrors in each room set to refract throughout your room upon check in, everything about the Renaissance Edmonton International Airport conveys the big chill.

The palette and texture: Blues, sliver, dark walnut, white. Stark, hard edges plus rounded shiny ones.

The accoutrements: Soundproof windows that look out onto the tarmac, happy hour every day from 5:15 until they run out of their signature drink, Halo Bar & Bistro, Fitness centre, library filled with silver and wood bobbles (think silver bear bookends) pool and a lobby that look alike it’s straight out of the 5th Element.

The location: Nestled next to the Edmonton International Airport, the hotel is a fab place to stay before/after a trip or as a staycation.  Feels like futuristic Scandinavia minus the accents.

The goods: “The theme of the hotel is “Curiously Arctic.” We want to celebrate Edmonton as the gateway to the North and show snow as spectacular, change the language around the way we talk about winter. We strive to be deep local,” from Jordan Majeau, Director of Operations.

4236 36th Street East, Edmonton International Airport, Alberta, T9E 0V4, 780-488-7159

Hotel Arts, Calgary

The lobby is full of Canadian art.
The lobby is full of Canadian art.
Nothing says mod, art hotel like babies in Bermuda shorts & bikes.
Hotel Arts went through a $7million reno including TV installed into bathroom mirrors. Because who doesn’t want to watch HGTV while they’re in the shower.


The vibe: MOMA meets Wild West. With giant horse paintings by Bruce Pashak and a hollow bull sculpture by Joe Fafard, there’s a definitely cowboy vibe in the lobby and hallways of the main floor mixed in with ultra mod lighting, ambient music and bespectacled, hipster-y staff. The hotel went through a $7-million re-do the minute the crowds from the 2014 Calgary Stampede stomped out of town. The result: a hotel oozing designer chic, layers of colour and one of the hippest stays in Calgary.

The palette & texture: The blown glass sculptures, geometric motif and artsy carpets elevate the hotel way above it’s humble roots as a Holiday Inn.

The accoutrements: The Yellow Door Bistro (and it’s cuter than cute Le Creuset breakfast buffet), glowing blue Raw Bar with award-winning cocktails from Christina Mah, a seasonal poolside bar, an extensive modern, Canadian art collection, boutique conference/meeting facilities, a fitness centre, free Brooklyn cruiser bikes to explore Calgary with.

The location: downtown Calgary, Alberta a stone’s throw away from the Calgary Tower, Cowboy’s Casino and the Beltline neighbourhood.

The goods: “Art is our namesake and we try to incorporate it into everything that we do from our impressive art collection to the design of our guest rooms to our culinary offerings. We like to surprise our guests with artful touches throughout their experiences with us,” explains Katie Mayer, Marketing and Media Relations Manager.

119 12 Ave SW, Calgary, Alberta, T2R OG8, 403-266-4611,

Skwachays Lodge, Vancouver

Skwachays Lodge Hotel is located one the edge of Vancouver's Chinatown.
Skwachays Lodge Hotel is located one the edge of Vancouver’s Chinatown.
Skwachays Lodge Suites July 21 2014
The Kayachtn room acts as lounge and eating area and is covered in Northwest coastal art.
Skwachays Forest Spirits Suite #508
Skwachays Forest Spirits Suite #508

The vibe: Anthropologist meets artist. Each of the Skwachays Lodge rooms are unique,- a metaphor for Canada’s large, varied Aboriginal communities. Skwachays is Canada’s first Aboriginal boutique hotel. From the videos that play in the lodge’s storefront, to the fair-trade art gallery that the front desk is located in, Skwachays caters to globe-trotting art lovers.

The palette & texture: Though the hotel is colourful, main colours tend to be red, black and white. The 18-unit hotel features themed rooms: writers will love the Poem suite adorned in the word art of Tlingit artist Clifton Fred, while forest nymphs will feel at home in the Forest Spirits suite covered in the work of Peter Chapman First Nation’s Jerry Whitehead.

The accoutrements: A fair trade art gallery, the Kayachtn room a sort of lounge/eating area, a rooftop smudge/meditation room, reduced-rate access to neighbouring Kalev Fitness, The Cedars boardroom.

The location: Housed on the ever-renewing edge of Gastown/Chinatown, Skwachays is a jump away from numerous indie restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Across the street is International Village, complete with a range of Asia-Pacific type stores and a block away is the venerable T&T Foodmarket.

The goods: “Our hotel and gallery not only creates wonderful venues for showcasing this beautiful work but also generates money to support an Aboriginal artists-in-residence program in our building. We provide a subsidy of over $160,000 to create live/work spaces for 24 aboriginal artists,” says Maggie Edwards, Skwachays Lodge General Manager.

29/31 West Pender, Vancouver, B.C, V6B 1R3, 604-684-6154,

Do you have a favourite art hotel? Where and why? Tell me all about it the comments section below.

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5 responses to “Artful sleeps: 3 Gallery-esque Hotels in Western Canada”

  1. Doreen Pendgracs Avatar

    I truly love hotels that feature unique art. It really makes a stay more fun and/or funky. Thx, also, for the tip on the Renaissance Edmonton Airport Hotel. I often find myself in transit with layovers and finding a good airport hotel makes the journey so much more palatable.

    1. mpost Avatar

      Doreen – me too. Make sure you try to make it to Renaissance’s Halo Bar & Bistro for their 5:15 ringing of the bell where they serve a signature cocktail out of an ice bowl until it’s out. Happy travels!

  2. Alouise Avatar

    I’m from Edmonton, so I haven’t stay at The Renaissance, but I got a tour of the hotel when it opened and I’ve been to the restaurant. I really love the design of the hotel, certainly not what you think of when you think of an “airport hotel.”

    1. mpost Avatar

      Alouise – I know what you mean. It feels like a chic downtown hotel, right? Definitely not super corporate looking. Thanks for visiting Anchors+Proteas!

  3. oakley sunglasses outlet Avatar

    Saved as a favorite, I really like your blog!

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