Art plays an increasingly dominant role in hotels worldwide, and several luxury establishments in Hong Kong have made it a core theme. Langham Place hotel in Mongkok has, in the past seven years, built a collection of 1,500 pieces of contemporary Chinese work comprising lithographs, oil paintings, photography and sculptures. 'Art has been a part of us since before we opened our doors and it beats through everything we do. It's probably our strongest unique point of difference,' says Katie Malone, the hotel's director of communications. The hotel's emphasis on art attracts local and international guests, she says. 'The environment hotels operate in is very competitive,' Malone says. 'It is always a race to have the best bed, the latest technology, the best view, the best linen, but over time all of those can fade, but the art never will, so being an art hotel provides a powerful statement about what makes you unique.' With many of the pieces bought before the mainland art boom, the value of the collection has doubled each year, and is now recognised as much for its financial value as its aesthetic and cultural importance. Art also fits with the hotel's brand positioning of being creative and unconventional. Langham Place is, in particular, interested in art that makes a statement, provokes and inspires, its spokeswoman says. Where it takes a more out-of-the-box approach to art, other hotels, such as Swire Hotels' properties, have adopted a more co-ordinated approach by sourcing and commissioning works that complement the architectural space. 'The scale of all the art pieces was intended to complement the architectural spaces, and to bring a resonance and sense of intimacy befitting the ambience of a house or home, not just a hotel,' says Alison Pickett, art consultant for the hotel group. The international collection at Upper House, the group's first property in Hong Kong, features artists from the mainland, Hong Kong, South Korea, Italy and Egypt, and was sourced and selected specifically to enhance rather than compete with the interior spaces, Pickett explains. The art collection at EAST hotel, another Swire group property, has been inspired by the hotel's location at Island East, with its close proximity to advertising, architectural and fashion companies. 'The direction of the artworks within EAST is loosely based on the colourful Pop Art movement that made its name in the United Kingdom in the 1950s, becoming more prevalent in the US in the 1960s and is currently gaining worldwide recognition again in China,' Pickett says. 'The works commissioned for EAST convey the modernity of popular culture today, as well as being true to EAST's branding as a lifestyle business hotel.'