Hotel Arts: Calgary’s Consistently Impressive Boutique Hotel

I travel a lot. I stay in hotels. They get boring. They look like grey blocks…and I like pretty things.

Sometimes I need a boutique blast; a change of venue that offers some stimulation for the senses. If you’ve ever been to Hotel Arts in Calgary, you know where I’m going with this.

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The hotel recently offered me the opportunity to bunk in for a night on a stopover to Cranbrook. That makes stay number five for me at the Arts since I first walked through their doors a few years ago. Nothing has changed – and that’s a good thing because why fix what’s broken?

My first stay was in the throes of summer when the scene was more Las Vegas than Calgary. Pretty young things were drinking fancy drinks poolside, the music was loud, the bass was pumping, the sun was scorching hot. I only had to close my patio door to entomb myself in the quiet, cool luxury of my room. The modern, quality touches make one night in the Arts feel like a mini vacay.

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My stay last week was not all about the bass; this time it was about catching up with friends before heading out of town, which meant food and drink at the Hotel Arts’ two restaurants: Yellow Door Bistro and Raw Bar.

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The Yellow Door always wows me—visually, and on the food front. Chef Jan Hansen took over when  Duncan Ly left in the summer of 2015. The food has remained consistently solid. It’s also one of the best brunch spots in town. Celebs often stay at the Arts and dine at the Yellow Door and Raw Bar. In fact,  a scene from Fargo was filmed here.  Billy Bob Thornton sat in the booth pictured below.

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When I walk around the Yellow Door, I wonder why more places don’t have the chutzpah to go a little crazy with their interior. Every place could use more shutters.

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Raw Bar, just down the hallway, is another stunning room in the hotel, but here the food is modern Vietnamese.

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Jinhee Lee, who was Ly’s sous chef, stepped in to the role of Chef du Cuisine when Ly left and, like the Yellow Door,  the food hasn’t missed a beat. And, speaking of beats: at Raw Bar, you get a double dose of greatness because every Thursday, Amy Thiessen curates weekly sessions featuring Calgary musicians. It’s a good night to dig in to some small plates, cocktails and music.

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Five reasons to stay at the Arts: the rooms, the food, the ambience, the music, the location. I’m already planning a reason to return.

feature image courtesy of Hotel Arts