Boring background music and mediocre art, move over. Instead, how about sharing that elevator ride with the creation of the universe or a Chinese New Year celebration or a photo booth complete with props?

Some boutique hotels, always eager to put in-vogue stamps on any bland piece of real estate, have decided that the utilitarian elevator is a fine place to have a bit of fun. And now even one of the world’s largest hotel companies is getting into the act.

Here’s where to go if you think listening to Kenny G and staring at mahogany panels is no way to start a vacation:

Las Vegas

Head to the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas’s elevators for video presentations set on six-foot-tall high-def screens. The last theme in the 52-floor elevators was “Little Winter” featuring five whimsical vignettes about ice-skating, Alpine skiing and Arctic ice-fishing, only Vegas-style (think champagne being poured on a mountain peak). Up now and scheduled to run through Feb. 15 is a nod to the Chinese Year of the Monkey.

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas’ “Little Winter” installation. (Erik Kabik)

The current Chinese New Year installation at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. (Erik Kabik)


Casa Claridge’s Faena Miami Beach, a 50-room, five-floor historic property developed by Argentine real estate mogul Alan Faena, has launched an entire concept around its lone elevator. ELEVATE’s lofty purpose is to serve as “a vertical platform, an ascending gallery for artistic intervention.” An installation by Cuban-born artist Consuelo Castañeda used repurposed photos to turn the elevator into a replica of Mexico’s Santo Domingo Church. The most recent is by Miami-born artist Typoe: The black walls are filled with magnetized neon letters and decals, encouraging passengers to “play and stay a while.”

A replica of Mexico’s Santo Domingo Church in the elevator of Casa Claridge’s Faena Miami Beach. (Courtesy of Faena Art)

Casa Claridge’s Faena Miami Beach most recent elevator installation by Miami-born artist Typoe. (Photo by Ivan Belaustegui, Courtesy of Faena Art)

New York City

The Standard, High Line was one of the first to envision the artistic promise of elevators when it opened in 2009. Guests ascending its 18 floors were sent from hell to heaven and descending guests back to hell in its “Civilization” installation by video artist Marco Brambilla. The wonderfully overblown work featured everything from a white-garbed mob in Hades to the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from “Ghostbusters.” The work has since been replaced with the similarly themed “Creation,” also by Brambilla, a fantastical spiraling melee journeying from the Garden of Eden to a burning apocalypse and back again.

“Creation” installation by video artist Marco Brambilla at The Standard, High Line in New York City. (courtesy of Michael Fuchs Galerie, Berlin)


The two-building QT Sydney, with its historic exteriors and quirky-chic interiors, has taken the elevator experience to a different level (no pun intended), offering art for the eyes and ears. A music sensor notes the number of passengers. A single passenger may hear Elvis’s “Are You Lonely Tonight?” while a couple may be serenaded by Bill Withers’ “Just the Two of Us.” And M.C. Hammer’s “You Can’t Touch This” may be a crowd favorite. A video art installation by Aboriginal artist Daniel Boyd also changes based on who is riding: When the elevator is crowded, the video goes psychedelic disco, while a solo occupant renders it contemplative and cosmic.

A video art installation by Aboriginal artist Daniel Boyd. (Courtesy of QT Hotels & Resorts)

A video art installation by Aboriginal artist Daniel Boyd. (Courtesy of QT Hotels & Resorts)

Tempe and New Orleans

Moxy, Marriott’s new hotel brand aimed at attracting millennials, is incorporating a retro concept that saw its first resurgence at hipster weddings — photo booths. Passengers will have to use their own cameras, but the mirror, red curtain and hard metal stool will all look authentic. Props that reflect the hotel’s location will also be provided, such as cacti and mustaches for the property in Tempe. Eight Moxy hotels are scheduled to open in 2016 in Europe and the United States, with the Tempe and New Orleans locations the first to offer the photo-booth setting.

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