America's Artiest New Hotels

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(CNN)Sometimes, you just want to stare at the walls.

But let's face it, even with a cocktail in hand, the odd abstract paintings and sepia-tone tree photos splashed all over the walls at many hotels aren't much of a visual treat for the weary traveler.

That's where this new crop of artistically inspired hotels comes in, elevating hotel art to gallery or museum status.

The Art

The Art, which opened this week in downtown Denver, is a capital-A Art hotel with a museum pedigree.

The hotel's in-house curator, Dianne Vanderlip, is the former curator of modern and contemporary art at the Denver Art Museum, which is just steps away from the new 165-room hotel.

Vanderlip spent two years selecting and commissioning more than 40 works by art-world superstars including Ed Ruscha, Deborah Butterfield, Tracey Emin, Claes Oldenburg and Sol LeWitt.

A light installation featuring 22,000 LED bulbs by Leo Villareal, the artist behind "The Bay Lights" on San Francisco's Bay Bridge, greets guests in the hotel's motor lobby.

The installation is programmed to reflect traffic and vibrations from the street and extends onto Broadway.

The fourth-floor "Welcome Gallery" features a number of standout works, from Ruscha's giant wall tapestry "Industrial, Strength, Sleep" to Butterfield's life-size horse, "Otter," made out of bronze patina-cast wood.

There's an original work of art displayed on each floor of the hotel, and prints by that artist are featured in the floor's guest rooms.

New American cuisine is the focus at the hotel's restaurant, Fire.

The Art, 1201 Broadway, Denver; 303-572-8000. Rates start at $289.

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