It’s an exciting time for the globetrotting culture connoisseur. From Paris to Tokyo and across to Cape Town, grand museums have opened their doors, dedicating beautifully designed spaces to visionary artists both past and present.
Here are three new must-visit spots and equally stylish stays for a dose of inspiration.
Talk about a phoenix rising from the ashes. The African continent’s largest contemporary art museum was built in Cape Town from a decrepit grain silo, transformed by London firm Heatherwick Studio. The building features an industrial façade, but the interior of the September 2017-opened building is staggeringly beautiful with its futurist curves.
Spread across nine floors are 100 galleries showcasing exclusively 21st-century work by African artists. Be sure to look for the white cubes that each host an avant-garde installation, like French-Gabonese artist Owanto’s La Jeune Fille à la Fleur (Flowers II), a collection of striking antique photos overlaid with a porcelain flower.
Where to Stay
The ultra-luxe boutique Silo Hotel sits directly atop the museum. Each of its 28 rooms (as well as the rooftop bar and pool) has knockout views of Cape Town, including the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, the Atlantic Ocean and Table Mountain. You can access Zeitz MoCAA by a secret entrance on the fourth floor and enjoy private tours.
Just around the corner from the museum is the more traditional Cape Grace hotel, which sits right on a private dock and has rooms facing the water. This is a more family-friendly option, offering a heated pool, kids’ menus and activities like gingerbread-decorating and story time for pint-sized guests.
MUSÉE YVES SAINT LAURENT
For nearly 30 years, the hôtel particulier at 5 Avenue Marceau in Paris’ 8th arrondissement was where Yves Saint Laurent designed his collections, changing the face of contemporary haute couture womenswear. Since 1964, Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé began keeping prototypes of runway looks, building up an enormous archive. In 2002, Saint Laurent retired and Bergé decided to start the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, which would slowly morph into the present-day museum.
At the helm of this gallery of glamour is director of collections Aurelie Samuel, who worked closely with Bergé to install exhibitions of iconic gowns and jackets, and to re-create Saint Laurent’s bright atelier. It was so impeccably executed that visitors expect the late designer to walk right in and take a seat at his desk.
Bergé died at 86, just one month before the museum’s opening in October 2017. But Samuel says, “He made all decisions to the end. We hadn’t yet installed the first floor, but he saw everything else. It was just the last step he missed. It was very sad to open the museum without him. But I hope, I’m sure, he would be very happy with what we have done. It is exactly as he wanted.”
Where to Stay
A block from the Arc de Triomphe and just a 10-minute-walk from the museum, Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Hotel Raphael makes a great home base in the City of Light. The 83-room, family-run hotel has hosted tourists and celebrities (Grace Kelly, Ava Gardner) since 1925.
Rooms and suites are kitted out in antique furnishings, thick drapes and sound-proof windows so you can enjoy views of the Eiffel Tower without a hint of noise. The vistas from the rooftop terrace bar are even better.
YAYOI KUSAMA MUSEUM
You may not expect Japan’s most successful contemporary artist to be an 88-year-old woman, but take one step inside Yayoi Kusama’s five-story Tokyo museum and you’ll understand why. Opened in October 2017, the self-commissioned space is a mecca for Kusama fanatics, of which there are hundreds of thousands. Her exhibitions around the world see fans lining up for hours, ready to snap photos of themselves in her fever-dream-inducing Infinity Rooms.
Above the first-floor gift shop are two levels for Kusama’s paintings and drawings, a fourth floor dedicated to immersive installations like the aforementioned Infinity Rooms and Obliteration Rooms (far more peaceful than it sounds, these are spaces where you can cover the walls with stickers). The top floor houses a reading area and a terrace. The entire building is a fantasyland, with awestruck museum-goers moving from one vibrant exhibition to the next.
Where to Stay
The Japanese capital is the ultimate concrete jungle, but Four-Star Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo has a most pastoral setting in a 700-year-old garden about 20 minutes’ walk from the museum. Its 260 rooms have either city or garden views and are decorated with handsome textiles, woodblock prints and porcelain lamps made in ceramics capital Arita.
Take a dip in the hotel’s onsen (hot spring) before tucking into a bowl of soba noodles at Mucha-an, the hotel’s lovely, all-glass eatery within the garden.