Amistà @ Byblos Art Hotel (VR)
One of the most beautiful luxury art hotels in the world, it contains an incredible collection of works of art, over 120, created by some of the most famous contemporary artists.
It was the early 2000s when Dino Facchini, founder of the Byblos brand and great art collector, fell in love with an abandoned 15th-century villa in the heart of Valpolicella near Verona and decided to restore it with the idea, truly visionary for that time, to create a permanent museum of modern and contemporary art…in a 5-star hotel.
After two years of intense conservative restoration, in 2005 the Byblos Art Hotel becomes reality, combining the dream vision of its founder with a masterpiece of Venetian architecture. A union that has itself become art thanks to the successful collaboration with the designer and architect Alessandro Mendini who also coordinated the contributions of other important designers such as Anna Gili, Bruno Gregori, Margarini-Morra and Beatriz Millar. Mendini, meticulously studying shapes and colors, has masterfully combined baroque and contemporary design in a historical context for the first time in the world.
The first sensation you get when crossing the gate of the villa is one of genuine astonishment: the garden and the huge heart-shaped fountain seem to come from the book of Alice in Wonderland, while the glass sculptures by Jean-Michel Othoniel, overlooking the huge staircase, create a kaleidoscope of colors.
The sense of marvel continues when you enter the central hall of the villa: the stuccos on the ceilings alternate with giant photographs by Vanessa Beecroft, a statue of Maurizio Savini, an artist known for his sculptures made with pink chewing gum, and a colorful Barovier & Toso chandelier. On the walls, Marc Quinn’s Kate Moss dialogues with Damien Hirst’s butterflies, while, above the reception, a gigantic painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat is just the fantastic prelude to an unforgettable stay.
Everywhere, works by other great artists including Alighiero Boetti, Mat Collishaw, Robert Indiana, Anish Kapoor, Takashi Murakami, Mimmo Paladino, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Mimmo Rotella, Cindy Sherman, Tom Wesselmann, many of which were created precisely for the decorative purpose of the rooms. Like the beautiful multi-colored corridor of the artist Mariangela Levita.
The furnishing is signed by world design gurus such as Eero Aarnio, Ron Arad, Gio Ponti, Eero Saarinen, Ettore Sottsass, Philippe Starck and Marcel Wanders.
The hotel has every comfort: in addition to 59 rooms each different from the other, guests can enjoy a 20,000 m2 park, a swimming pool, a spa, the Peter’s Bar, where excellent cocktails are served while the jukebox by the artist Ivan dispenses poems instead of songs, and the restaurant Amistà. One Michelin star, here chef Mattia Bianchi proposes a creative cuisine firmly centered on the territory’s traditions and the excellence of raw materials.
For art-lovers, a lunch, in summer in one of the park’s gazebos or, in winter on the veranda or in the cellar (which includes over 400 wine labels) combined with an art tour of the hotel (upon booking) it is truly a lifetime experience. Not surprisingly, the Hotel is a favorite of many celebrities, including David Gilmore of Pink Floyd, Duran Duran, Alicia Keys, Gianna Nannini and Jovanotti.
In the hotel lobby, you can see the famous Sphinx Venus and Sphinx Fortuna sculptures, reproducing top model Kate Moss, that Marc Quinn created in 2008. Of the same subject, Quinn also made Siren: 50 kg of 18-karat gold, exactly the weight of the English model, advertised as the largest gold sculpture from ancient Egypt worth several million euros, which the Hotel owners keep in a bank vault.