Wheat Youth Arts Hotel

JoAnn Greco • Photography by Shao Feng • March 2, 2017

Photos: Wheat Youth Arts Hotel

Guests of China’s Wheat Youth Arts Hotel, located on the seventh floor of a shopping mall in Hangzhou’s Binjiang District, can indulge their inner artist—whether it’s by reading, writing, painting, or playing music. Shanghai-based X+Living drew inspiration from the city’s cultural heritage for the design of the 80-room property, according to principal Li Xiang. The lobby, for instance, accessed through a stark white door with black lettering, has been turned into a library with black floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that “are as solemn as a bookstore,” she points out. “Meanwhile, our original paintings in the corridors and public areas try to make guests feel like they are in an art gallery.”

A flirtatious spirit prevails, as the property targets Millennials or, at the very least, the youthful-minded. “Guests should feel like they are being teased,” she says, “and they are encouraged to tease each other.” Near the lobby, for example, an installation of white hotel amenities and toiletries—from slippers to toothbrushes to hangers—are placed behind plexiglass, à la Damien Hirst. Elsewhere, colorful, large-scale Chinese checkers hang upside down from a corridor ceiling “as sweet as Skittles,” says the designer, and a dog sculpture sits in front of the reception desk, his leash acting as a rope where the line forms.

The arts focus continues with drawing easels in the guestrooms, and a communal lounge with a piano on each floor. Rooms feature dark gray, almost black angular headboards, charcoal walls, neutral bedding, and glass-encased bathrooms. Color shows up in the wall art that, with pink or yellow splotches of paint and whimsical phrases—like “Catch You Later” and “What’s Up Man”—conceal the TV screens.

“We used the most economical and environmentally friendly materials like PVC flooring,” she points out, “and the most natural materials for the customized furniture, such as light woods, to add to the feeling of being in a gallery.” It all adds up to “less is more,” says Li.