Interesting hotel rooms are nearly impossible to find, particularly with any sort of comic book art influenced decor. After some relatively exhaustive research, I've found 10 places which echo popular comic book styles, and a few more which come close.
Naturally hotels want to appeal to everyone and offend no one, which unfortunately usually translates to really boring decor. I've often stayed in places with an interesting lobby, but rooms where everything is beige and the most to hope for is a clean, comfortable inoffensive place to sleep. Personally, if I'm going to pay money to sleep somewhere, I'd like to experience something different. In my search for a truly interesting hotel, I have compiled the following list of comic, cartoon and pop art themed hotels that have made an effort to create entirely unique, artist-designed rooms. If you know of any other, please share them below and we can work towards a more comprehensive selection of comic book influenced hotels to stay in, all over the world.
1. Best Western Hotel Tomo - San Francisco, California
This has to be the most appealing Best Western has every been, thanks to the anime themed rooms, complete with bold colors, sprawling murals, gaming suites and cute furnishing. Adorably upbeat, the hotel takes it's cue from the location in San Francisco's Japantown. Close to excellent toy and book shops, the bright manga theme extends to every room.
2. Hotel Fox - Copenhagen, Denmark
This hotel features rooms which have been decorated by popular contemporary graphic designers, illustrators and artists. Looking more like a shelf of indie comics, than a gallery of rooms, they offer the chance to sleep inside the work of a well-known artist. Rooms like "tokidoki World" or Geneviève Gauckler's "Sleep Well" room have the artist's trademark illustrations on the walls, floor, curtains, decor and bed. Offering a range of room sizes, the "medium" sized options offer the most characteristically comic book-related artists.
3. Grand Hi Lai Hotel - Kaohsiung, Taiwan
What Hello Kitty has really been missing is some crazy Louis the XIV action... Well perhaps not, but these hotel rooms have it. Combining kitschy, pink Kitty-adorned decor with the baroque, gilt-edged glamor of a bygone era is quite bizarre. In case that wasn't odd enough, most of the photos of the rooms have a person dressed in a Hello Kitty suit to add tp the apparently unintentional surrealism. I only wish I had an excuse to stay in this cartoon nightmare of a room.
4. Hotel des Arts - San Francisco, California
The painted rooms of the Hotel des Arts are entirely designed by well-known San Francisco local artists. The art in these rooms isn't simply decoration, but an integral part of the experience. Contemporary artists like Buff Monster, Jeremy Fish and Kelly Tunstall create bold comic book and graffiti inspired art to sleep in.
5. The Palms - Las Vegas, Nevada
Impressively pricey, but with a layout to match. Billed as being like living in Barbie's dreamhouse, I can't help but notice that the layout boasts 3 toilets. In fact when I was a kid, the one thing missing from Barbie's dream house was a toilet (in fact, I built one out of lego because I found it weird that she didn't have one.) Thankfully they haven't been faithful on that front. Pink as can be, I am not sure my eyes could handle more than one night in this suite, although that one night would be AMAZING.
6. The Arte Luise Kunsthotel - Berlin, Germany
Centrally located in the nearly 200 year old city palais and a new state-of-the-art, ecologically responsible building this hotel has rooms individually decorated by renowned artists. The contrast of the old and new in the architecture provides a home to a variety of artists' approach to the contemporary decor. While each artist has had a completely free reign within the room they are decorating, the most relevant to this article has to be the "Comic" room, complete with black outlines, simple shapes and bold colors.
7. The City Lodge - Berlin, Germany
Each room is extremely aggressively themed by one artist (Lars Stroschen). Located in Berlin this is a museum to sleep in, not simply a themed hotel, and the photo gallery certainly gives that impression. Rooms offer experiences as diverse as sleeping in coffins arranged on scaffolding over a labyrinth, or sleeping in a diamond room entirely lined with faceted mirrors, or a room containing a red glass-walled bathroom, or a room lined entirely with padded green leather... It all looks very much like something out of the Sandman comics to me, environment art pulled directly from the dreaming unconscious mind. The site for the hotel offers a comprehensive photo gallery of the rooms, so I'd recommend taking a peek.
8. Lalala Art Hotel - Sopot, Poland
A pretty, strange little art hotel in Poland, this offers a peek into a fairytale world, think kitsch, disturbing fantasies. Very children-friendly, the hotel states that they offer a step into wonderland. If these rooms were comic books, they would be Fables covers, painted by James Jean.
9. Loews Portofino Bay at Universal - Orlando, Florida
As one would expect, there are cartoon-themed hotel rooms to be had in Orlando, Florida. Unfortunately, the rooms for adults are pretty standard with incredibly well themed rooms for the kids adjoining. While the kids get the Dr. Seuss themed rooms at the Portofino Bay Loews the adults get something more conventional. Definitely a great family vacation option, but not really aimed at adults who want the comic book experience.
10. Nickelodeon Suites Resort - Orlando, Florida
As with Loews, the rooms with the wacky cartoon themes are for kids, part of the suites built to house whole families. Again, overtly marketed as "family" vacations, this is pretty far from the sophisticated, mature-readers-only type of comic books that influenced the choice of other hotels on this list. However, if you have kids then this is probably a great option for you. This level of copyrighted cartoon branding doesn't exist outside of "family" vacation resorts in the US, so if you're a fan, this might be the only option.
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ALMOST, BUT NOT QUITE:Within the selection of themed hotels for this list, there are some which veer a little further into the art, than they do the comic sphere of design. However, with the use of strong colors and interesting imagery, they do still offer spaces which are very different from the usual hotel stay.
Adonis Hotel - Osaka, JapanIn researching this article I found out about a love hotel where each room had a unique S&M cartoon theme for each room, including a now infamous S&M Hello Kitty bedroom. Sounds amazing doesn't it? Unfortunately the hotel has now closed, possibly because companies weren't that comfortable with the use of their characters in such a context... we've all missed an excellent experience there. In general, despite the suspect nature of them, the love hotels of Japan do seem to offer the most outrageous of all the comic book themed rooms.
Hotel Pelirocco - Brighton, England
A fun, playful homage to pop-art and the music scene in England's seaside town Brighton, this hotel features 19 themed bedrooms. Covering all pop music eras, with bold colors and strong lines, the hotel can't help but have a comic book look to it.
Art'Otel - Berlin, GermanyWith decor based around Warhol art, colors are carefully chosen to fit in with the pop artists work. Not so much a comic book theme as a pure Warhol art theme, and very tastefully done.
Abitart Hotel - Rome, ItalyA modern 4 star hotel in the Ostiense Quarter of Rome, the Abitart Hotel is a contemporary building filled with rooms designed entirely around the dadaist, modern, pop-art that they contain. As they say on the site, "for us, art is inseparable from life", and the themed suites and meeting rooms they offer fulfill that promise.
Goldman 25 Hours Hotel - Frankfurt, GermanyModern, colorful and very ostentatiously hip, this Frankfurt hotel offers unique rooms with art drawn from cartoons, fashion, and art. Leaning closer to the art and fashion than the comic books, so while it doesn't make the list of comic book hotels, it certainly is a massive step away from any generic hotel.
The Silver Reef Hotel - Udon Thani, Thailand20 vibrantly decorated rooms. Less comic book and more cartoon, but it has more character than the usual beige rooms of generic hotels.
Gladstone Hotel - Toronto, CanadaLuxurious artist-designed rooms with a graphic look, from the sexy line art in the "Blue Line Room" to the austere luxury of the "Felt Room".
The idea of overtly trying to attract a cartoon and comic book interested crowd isn't unique, in fact a few places have tried to do so, but sadly without actually coming through and offering comics and cartoons in name only. I got excited about a post on Jim Mcann's twitter last week, about the Villa Comics. Unfortunately, despite it's name the hotel is not actually themed. While each room has a single painting from a comic book, the rooms themselves are quite ordinary. Similarly, in Istanbul, Turkey, there is a hotel actually called the Cartoon Hotel, but none of the rooms have any hint of a cartoon to them. While the building itself is decorated with a large cartoon of Asterix and Obelix, and there appears to be Disney art in the common areas, there is not a hint of this cartoon theme applied to the rooms. You could be staying in any hotel. The lesson here is that you have to do your research, don't go by just a name.
If you know of (or have even stayed in) any hotels with comic book, cartoon, and/or pop art themes, that offer something other than the usual bland rooms, please do share them in the comments section here. I'm always on the lookout for another vacation to lust after!