By Ken Hegan for MSN Travel

How do you like to pay for your hotel room? Credit? Debit? Cash? Shame-based sex (my preference)? Or maybe you prefer to leave a tasteful painting of a fruit bowl or, say, a giant oil painting of bare-chested warriors chasing bison off a cliff?

If art is your currency, you’re in luck. A Swedish hotel is inviting artists to pay for their rooms with original works of art.

Clarion art

Inspired by the funky, art-filled Chelsea Hotel in NYC (a.k.a. the Hotel Chelsea), The Clarion Hotel (located in Stockholm’s arty Södermalm district) is encouraging painters and sculptors to trade art for a night’s stay. The program is called ‘Room for Art’ and you can download their application here.
“It’s all really very simple: an artwork — a room — one night,” states the Clarion’s official website. You don’t have to be a famous artiste, either. They also accept pieces from talented up-and-comers.

Naturally, this amazing offer comes with a few rules:

1) Your art must be original and signed

2) Your room is maximum double-occupancy. Don’t even think about sneaking in all your buddies from your Adult Ed life drawing class.

3) Maximum one night per stay. Unless you’re a lightning fast painter (or blasted on meth), bring your completed artwork when you check in.

4) Offer is available twice per person in a calendar year

5) When you pay with your signed art, you’re also signing over full ownership and exclusive rights of use

6) Never pay for your room with a velvet painting of poker-playing dogs [Actually that’s not the hotel’s rule at all…I collect these velvet masterpieces and hate it when people flood the market.]

Clarion Hotel caresSure, I’ve stolen plenty of hotel paintings…I love to stare and weep at sad and lonely watercolours. Who doesn’t? But this is the first time a hotel has challenged me to leave a new one behind.

In a CNN interview, Clarion’s hotel rep, Tess Mattisson, said their art-for-sleep deal has a simple and worthy cause:

“It’s to celebrate the establishments like the Chelsea Hotel in New York City which over the years have encouraged struggling as well as established artists — but also to invite international artists to experience Sweden and Stockholm,” she said.

The Clarion’s general manager, Marcus Majewski, has a personal tie to the Chelsea. Back in the ’70s, his artist father paid for his Chelsea Hotel room with a work of art. In the ’60s through the ’80s, the hotel acquired art from the likes of Julian Schnabel, Frida Kahlo, Robert Crumb, Diego Rivera, Willem de Kooning, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Jasper Johns.

“To see my dad’s pieces hang next to famous artists at the Hotel Chelsea really made an impact on me,” Majewski told CNN.

Room for Art is a big fast hit. They began accepting art last June and just a month later, 50 artists had taken advantage.

What do you think? Should more hotels accept art for payment?

— Ken Hegan


The Clarion Stockholm

Ringvägen 98, Box 20025, 104 60 Stockholm

+46 8 462 10 00

Read more of Ken’s MSN travel stories here  

Follow Ken on Twitter: @KenHegan

Photos courtesy The Clarion Stockholm