The Quin - A Beaux-Arts Ode to The Artistic Greats
BY SOPHIE CHUNG
The Quin is more than just a NYC hotel - it’s a historic landmark which housed an era of world-class artists since its opening as The Buckingham Hotel in 1929.
10 FEB - 2018
The Quin was rated #22 on Conde Nast Traveler’s Top Hotels in New York City: Readers’ Choice Awards 2017 and a beaux-arts urban oasis for those who appreciate it as an ode to the artistic greats.
FIRST TIP: The smartest way to go the whole hog on an art-themed trip, along with all of your bucket-list attractions, is to grab a pass from NYCGO to save on admission prices and skip ticket queues. The one-stop destination marketing organization for all five boroughs; Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx; NYCGO has nearly 2,000 businesses and organizations involved to provide visitors with a clear-cut platform that makes exploring the dynamic city super easy. Not only does it motivate a thorough experience, but it also helps with the US’ economic prosperity by having these global promotions readily available online. As New York is a city where ticking off tourist attractions are mandatory, it’s best to think savvy and get all of this done and dusted in the first one to two weeks of your holiday.
Sick as a dog in the bustling city of NYC, I found the perfect urban oasis to take a weekend-long nap and resuscitate my mind and body. In a sound-proof suite with a custom-made king-size Duxiana bed worth US$10,000, I can asseverate that the elements of luxury and comfort are delivered to please the most fastidious of Manhattan’s elite at The Quin. Admittedly, I don’t have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to vehicles, but what I do know is that Bond, James Bond, drove Aston Martins, which happens to be the pseudo name that the DUX bed goes by. Envision the most plush handmade mattress backed by serious Swedish science – specifically by the Nobel Prize winning medical university, The Karolinska Institute – covered in the finest Egyptian cotton woven in Italy by Sferra linens. Ah, the life of the privileged – no wonder 007 can undergo all that physical hardship which comes with assassinating evil – it’s all in prioritising a good night’s deep sleep. If it’s good enough for a secret spy, it’s good enough for an avid tourist.
But aside from the state-of-the-art bed that I grew a very strong affinity with, leaving me with near-unachievable mattress dreams slash a business idea to export Duxiana into New Zealand, there’s a few other eye-widening things that the Quin brings to the table. The ensuite bathroom, for one, boasts a well-lit marble vanity, a glass-enclosed wet room with a rain shower and a deep-soaking bathtub that came to good use with a bottle of Piper Heidsick and a large serving of macarons. Literally feverish in my Frette bathrobe and slippers, I depended on Seamless for all of New York’s best fried chicken and (super average) pho to be delivered to the door. Despite the miserable chills, these kinds of astoundingly convenient customer-orientated services made the never-knew-I-needed-this-in-my-life aspects that I picked up in NYC. If anything, the concept of making everything available at the tap of a finger is something that is of true priority in a regular, and most likely very time-deprived, New Yorker’s quintessential lifestyle.
Speaking of one-touch-away convenience and a serious appreciation for the finer things in life; The Quin’s guestrooms have Bergdorf Goodman and Tiffany & Co.s’ personal shoppers available on speed dial. An offering that I unfortunately couldn’t take up due to the fact that I’m not part of the 8 million households in America that own over $1 million in financial assets – nor am I an escort who’s been swept off her feet with a $250,000 ruby and diamond necklace by Richard Gere. I may be young but I’ve learnt that life is unfair like that. Adding to the impressive list of A-class services is the concierge team who can curate a tailored itinerary revolving around Manhattan’s best in sophisticated culture – think art, design, theatre, fashion and dining. For a not-so-common and less ‘obvious’ excursion, The Quin offers a specially designed tour of street art where you can visit various murals, installations and sculptures; cleverly dubbed the “He(art) of New York”. Seemingly hoity toity at first, having a cultural attaché create a themed itinerary while travelling can be incredibly useful for art/fashion/music/theatre geeks who are pressed for time.
Situated smack bang in the middle of Manhattan on the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 57th Street, The Quin is conveniently positioned at the intersection of art, music and high-end commerce. Two blocks away from Central Park in the North, a skip and a hop away from Fifth Avenue for regular shopping bag drop offs and a 5 minute stroll to MoMA with Carnegie Hall just around the corner; its prime location is hard to beat. However, you really don’t need to go far for The Quin itself is a landmark destination for art. Created in partnership with Curator DK Johnston, the Quin Arts program engages with international artists to exhibit paintings, photographs, musical performances and receptions to provide an interactive and immersive experience for the guests. More importantly, the culturally significant pieces and intimate meet-and-greets with artists ingrains a memory for world travellers to take home as an abstract souvenir.
Behind the iconic beaux-arts architecture is an immense historic legacy that is honoured rightfully. The former Buckingham Hotel opened its doors in 1929, housing an era of world-class artists the likes of; pianist, composer and former Prime Minister of Poland, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, 22-time Academy Award-winning film composer Dimitri Tiomkin, Metropolitan Opera stalwart tenures Giuseppe De Luca, Giovanni Martinelli, Paul Schöffler, Renata Tebaldi and Broadway’s Bobby Van and Jazz Saxophonist Gato Barbieri. Not only is The Quin saturated with a rich melodious heritage, it also once hosted the mother of Modern art Georgia O’Keefe and Europe’s “last survivor” of first-gen Modernism, Marc Chagall. In paying homage to The Buckingham’s golden past as the hotspot hideaway for many beloved 20th Century artists, The Quin has created the Artist-In-Residence Program to celebrate today’s cosmopolitan verve. Several guestrooms are designated for artists to live, be inspired by the global culture of the city and in turn, create pieces to exhibit within the common areas of the hotel. Currently, over twenty original pieces commissioned through the interactive programme are housed within the hotel – including art by iconic graffiti artists such as Blek le Rat and Nick Walker, photorealist painter Eric Zener, Wulf Von Treu a.k.a. “The German Basquiat”, and Ireland’s most celebrated painter, Patrick Graham.
The most dramatic ode to art is the dynamic 15-foot abstract video art wall in the lobby by Magnum Photos. As part of the residency program, participating artists are challenged to form a stimulating digital representation of their original work. Last year, Quin Arts focused its attention on the work of global street artists and for the first half of this year, the program turned to spotlighting international photographers. During my stay in late April, award-winning photographer and filmmaker Robert Christian Malmberg produced custom centrepieces for the video wall, triplex Penthouse suite, select guest rooms and public spaces. His old-fashioned photographic techniques of wet collodion processed prints was melded with a tinge of modern technology, adding a dash of brooding, nostalgic drama to the lobby. Contemporary 21st Century art with an antiquated twist, Malmberg’s sensibilities in his photography’s split dichotomy suitably paid homage to the Quin’s artistic heritage.
Since the start of August, in combining the two worlds of photography and street art, the Quin commissioned Danish photographer Søren Solkær to present two exhibitions over the next six months. Extracted from Solkær’s 2015 publication SURFACE, his first exhibition will be hosted in the hotel’s triplex Penthouse Suite and 17th floor until early next year. The second exhibition, titled HEART BEAT CITY, is a collection of “Pop Art inspired portraits of New York,” as described by Solkær, that made its debut on the Quin’s large electronic canvas in mid-August. He commented, “In many ways, the work I created for the Quin serves as a love letter to New York. For me, New York is the most inspiring city in the world and that’s what keeps drawing me back.” Several new pieces from both of his exhibitions are set to be in the reissued 2018 version of SURFACE, making this incredible one-of-a-kind curation worth the extensive cankle-inducing journey from down under. Expect Warhol-inspired creations that celebrate happy accidents from multiple image layering and colour separation.