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Staying at Hotel Arts in Calgary

Hotel Arts |

Hotel Arts |

Cal, the life-sized horse-shaped lamp.

I love places that have character. If they’re a little quirky even better. Hotel Arts fits that bill. Where else can you have breakfast next to a life-sized horse lamp? Located on the south end of downtown Calgary, the hotel has a lot of unique touches in the decor and, as the name implies, art everywhere. The hallways and lobby are filled with sculptures, paintings and prints. Just to be sure they’ve clinched that hipster appeal, the hotel even has Brooklyn Cruiser bikes for guests’ use around town.

This is where the hip and trendy folk stay. Even Gotye is somebody they used to know. He set up shop here during his artist in residence stint at the National Music Centre and it turns out I was sitting in his regular breakfast seat.

It’s easy to see why the cool kids flock here. The courtyard pool and lounge area give the hotel a Miami vibe. It was really too bad that I visited in early October when it was too cold to try out the pool myself. I could just picture hanging out there with friends on a hot summer day, sipping cocktails and munching on Viet-Modern snacks from Raw Bar. Despite having  a population of just under a million, Calgary doesn’t have a big city, metropolis feel to it, but it does have a hip vibe. It’s a town on the rise that’s filled with creative young people and that’s reflected in the Hotel Arts. They’re part of the group, like PARK, leading the way in the city’s culinary and arts scene.

Hotel Arts |

I really wish I had visited in summer so that I could’ve enjoyed the awesome pool.

Hotel Arts |

They really seem to like their horses in Calgary.

My one beef with the hotel was that wifi was an extra charge. I’m always a little baffled when I can get free wifi at Tim Horton’s but not as a nice 3.5* hotel. Since I was in Canada I just stuck to using my phone and data plan to check my emails and Twitter. These days people expect to find wifi as much as they expect little shampoos and facecloths even though there seems to be a direct correlation between a hotel’s star rating and the cost of the wifi.

Hotel Arts |

My suite was earth-toned with simple lines and comfortable furniture. There was a king sized bed backed by dramatic floor to ceiling curtains, a wet bar, sitting area and walk-out balcony. The large tv was mounted on the wall right above the desk, which was a bit awkward while I was working. I sometimes like having the tv on as background noise while I work and it was too close for comfort. The bathroom was stocked with Aveda bath products which made my morning routine just that much nicer and I loved having a whole little dressing area where my suitcase could explode out of sight of the rest of the room.

Hotel Arts |

The room is on the dark side now, which makes it feel like a cozy den but I’m told that renovations will be happening over the next few months which will see the rooms all brightened up. If the decor ends up being anything like the Yellow Door Bistro on the main level, I know I’ll love it. The restaurant is bright and sunny with a touch of Alice in Wonderland-ness to the design choices: the aforementioned horse turned lamp  (who I nicknamed Cal), large black porter’s chairs, and tables that are reminiscent of giant chess pieces. Anyone who knows me that I love design with a sense of whimsy so this was right up my alley and the food had a touch of the unexpected as well. Pesto scrambled eggs and grits in brightly coloured mini Le Creuset dishes for example.

Hotel Arts |

A nod to the Stampede maybe?

All in all I wouldn’t hesitate to stay at the Hotel Arts again. You never know what rock star you might run into.

Do you prefer hotels that have unique character?

Fact Sheet

  • Where: 119 12 Ave SW, Calgary, Alberta
  • Cost: Studio rooms start at $238. Luxury suites go for $440.
  • Number of Rooms: 185
  • Amenities: Outdoor seasonal pool, two restaurants on site (Raw Bar and Yellow Door Bistro), Brooklyn Cruiser bikes available free for guest use, in room spa treatments available. Wifi is $10.45/24 hour period.
  • Rating: TripAdvisor 3.5*
  • Check Availability

Note: Hotel Arts provided me with a stay but all opinions are my own. Nobody asked that I name their various animal shaped tables and lamps or watch too much Food Network in my room.



  1. Steph | A Nerd at Large says:

    December 19th, 2013 at 12:02 am (#)

    That looks like a really neat place to stay. I love Cal! He reminds me of the equestrian statue in front of the modern art museum in Glasgow, which usually has a traffic cone on its head.

    I don’t know what it is with fancy hotels and charging for wifi. I can often afford it but I’m against paying it on general principle because the fee is so disproportionate to what it costs them to provide the service. But then I miss out on staying at nicer hotels.

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