Tucked among the Brutalist cultural institutions and skyline-reshaping towers of London’s rapidly developing South Bank district is the Autograph Collection’s new Bankside Hotel. The 161-room property, which hosts a maker-in-residence program, is an almost absurdly convenient hub for art connoisseurs: The Tate Modern, the National Theatre, the Young Vic Theatre, and Shakespeare’s Globe are all less than a 10-minute walk away.
These days, it seems as if every new hotel boasts a Mid-Century Modernist vibe, but the Bankside wears its inspirations on its sleeve. Dayna Lee—a former set dresser on films such as Dances With Wolves—filled the space with pieces that call to mind the giants of 20th-century art: Abstract sconces borrow from Alexander Calder, gestural hallway prints evoke Cy Twombly, and black-and-white tilework recalls Gio Ponti. Feeling creative yourself? Rooms are stocked with colored pencils and sketch pads.
The atelier-like hotel is filled with artworks both decorative (a spring-mounted silver pig) and functional (locally made ceramics). Especially attention-grabbing are Helen Gørrill’s mashed-up contemporary portraits of historic figures: Architect Sir Christopher Wren—whose masterpiece, St. Paul’s Cathedral, is visible across the Thames from some guest rooms—is covered in pigeons and wears a graffitied necktie, while Shakespeare carries a skateboard and waits for the Tube.
In the Art Yard Bar & Kitchen, look for Laura Carlin’s wall of hand-painted tiles, which feature depictions of the Thames through the centuries, from Viking longships to the Great Fire of 1666 to the nearby Undercroft skate park. (Think of it as a sort of children’s book–style Bayeux Tapestry.) Pair your London history lesson with some British comestibles: a cheese plate curated by Buchanans Cheese-monger, Marmite-topped crumpets, a glass of sparkling wine from Hampshire, or a Bermondsey gin cocktail.
Love that collage of spangly, Christmas-bulb-lit underwear in the lobby? You can pick up a pair (sans bulbs) from one of the touchscreen vending machines on each floor. Also on sale are Champagne, Tom Ford sunglasses, and a gold-plated brass and Labradorite stone engagement ring. Just in case. From $375, banksidehotel.com