Let's face it. India, with its wealth of arts and culture, is a fabulous place to engage in creativity. Whether you're an established artist, or someone who wants to learn and experiment, these diverse arts-focused hotels in India will give you some inspiration. Many offer Artist in Residence programs too.
Art Village is a gorgeous earth-built center that celebrates all forms of art, just an hour and a half from Mumbai. It was established in 2011 by Mumbai-based artist Ganga Kadakia and her husband to bridge the gap between artists and the public. The aim: to introduce more art into people's lives, as a way of adding color and to help them think. To facilitate this, the center brings together a diverse collective of people from creative professions both locally and internationally. The community includes artists, yogis and spiritual gurus, outdoor enthusiasts, photographers and cinematographers, potters, actors, classical singers, dancers and musicians. Together they offer a wide variety of courses and workshops. The property's architecture is remarkable as well. The buildings are all made out of earth, recycled wood, mosaic, and other sustainable materials. There's an art gallery and Earth Cafe that serves dishes made from organic farm produce too. You can expect to pay about 7,000-10,000 rupees for an overnight stay, including all meals. Stress will melt away there!
The Art Inn is a bed and breakfast where artists can learn about Rajasthan's art forms. It also provides a platform for local artisans to interact with them and get new creative ideas. Workshops such as blue pottery, jewelry designing, woodcraft, miniature painting, and block printing are offered in the in-house studio. Plus, excursions to local artists villages are arranged. The accommodations consist of six double theme-based bedrooms, featuring works of art, in a quaint cottage designed by a German architect. You can rent individual rooms or the whole cottage. Expect to pay 2,400 rupees per night for a single or 3,300 rupees per night for a double, including breakfast. Artist residencies are available for between one and three months.
Saraya is another collaborative art space that brings creative people together to engage in all kinds of pursuits encompassing art, food, culture and living. The tree-filled property is situated by the side of paddy fields and has a 300-year-old restored Portuguese mansion at its center. It houses an art gallery and healthy organic vegetarian garden cafe. Regular events include art and wellness workshops, yoga retreats, jam sessions, meditation, and permaculture courses. Guests can choose from accommodations in tree houses and mud hours, with rates ranging from around 1,500-5,000 rupees per night depending on the time of year.
When artist Laila Vaziralli moved to Goa in 2017 and couldn't find anywhere appropriate to exhibit her work, she decided to set up her own alternative art space. In addition to functioning as a gallery, artists are frequently invited to share their knowledge at The Village Studio. As the name implies, there's a multi-purpose studio in the backyard where ongoing art and design classes, and workshops, are held. (Check the property's Facebook Page to see what's happening). Added to this are a cafe and two simple but groovy guest rooms upstairs. The guest rooms are decorated with murals, and joined by a common kitchen and living room. Expect to pay about 1,500 rupees per night for double.
One of India's top eco-friendly hotels by the beach near Pondicherry, The Dune has a special space dedicated to creativity and culture. Its Artists in Residence program provides studios and living quarters for artists from all around the world. The residencies are available for one month in December, January, February and March every year. They're open to any ideas and nationalities. Artists are encouraged to explore different mediums and techniques, including use of local resources and collaborations with local craftsmen. Writers, film-makers and musicians have stayed there in addition to renowned and novice artists.
Artpackers.Life Hostel, Alleppey, Kerala
Art is for backpackers in India too! At Artpackers.life hostel, resident artists and guests mingle in the creative community space next to the artist studios. The hostel also has a shady communal backyard for art installations and activities. It's housed in a beautiful 1930s heritage building (which was previously used as a police station, All India Radio station, and a primary school) near the beach at Alleppey. This destination is where people go to hire houseboats in Kerala, and watch the famous Nehru Cup Snake Boat Race in August. The Artist in Residence program focuses on experimentation with traditional and contemporary arts practices. Practitioners of all art forms (both visual and performing) are welcome. The program is open throughout the year for a minimum of two weeks and maximum of three months, and has capacity for up to four residents at a time. Guests are accommodated in mixed-dorms and private rooms. Rates start from 499 rupees per night for dorm bed and 1,500 rupees per night for a private double, with breakfast.
If you're interested in contemporary pottery and ceramics, Aura may be the perfect place for you! This pottery farm and backpacker hostel on the lush outskirts of Chandigarh has a well-equipped pottery studio, where both short-term courses and long-term art residencies are conducted. Beginners can attend the weekend pottery classes. Alternatively, the residences run from two to 12 weeks. Guests stay in a purpose-built villa facing the orchard on the property, a couple of minutes walk from the studio. It can fit up to 12 people at a time in two double bedrooms, two single bedrooms, and two dormitories. The rooms are basic but clean, with air-conditioning and shared bathrooms. There's also a central area where guests can get together and socialize, plus a swimming pool and walking track around the property. Rates start from 35,000 rupees for a two week retreat, with all meals (prepared using organic produce from the farm) and tuition included. 2-day weekend pottery classes cost 2,500 rupees, and an extra 1,250 rupees for optional stay and meals.
Art Ichol is a visionary "creative escape" that gets its name from a nearby village. It's an initiative of Gallery Sanskriti in Kolkata, which designed and constructed it especially to hold artist residencies. The substantial property opened in 2015, and was largely made from scrap and recycled materials. It's divided into a skill center, writers' retreat, and heritage home. The extensive facilities include metal casting workshop, stone and wood carving workshop, fiberglass studio, painters' room, clay modeling rooms, and ceramics workshop. This enables artists to explore a discipline they're not familiar with. There's also a large open-air sculpture park and indoor gallery where artists' works are displayed. It's possible to stay at the writers' retreat or heritage home for $100 per night, including meals. Or, apply for an artist residency from one week to three months. Visual arts, particularly sculpture, is the primary focus. In case you're wondering exactly where Art Ichol is in Madhya Pradesh, it's between Khajuraho and Bandhavgarh National Park.
A CGH Earth property, SwaSwara is located at one of India's best beaches and is ideal for those looking for a luxurious wellness retreat. The resort's name means "your inner voice" and the goal is for guests to release, refocus and re-calibrate. Art therapy is offered as a way of achieving this. The resort has a special Artists in Residence program where artists interact with guests and share their various skills in the art studio. This could be anything from pottery to painting. Other activities include yoga, meditation, and Ayurvedic treatments. Packages range from five to 21 nights. The five-night packages cost 148,000 rupees for a single and 148,000 rupees for a double including doctor consultations, meals, accommodations, and all activities.
The Four Tables Project, in the hamlet of Gunehar village near paragliding destination Bir-Billing, is dedicated to experimenting with alternative and meaningful models of contemporary living. Since the project was founded by German-Indian art impresario Frank Schlichtmann in 2008, it has grown to incorporate a modern art gallery, fusion restaurant, gorgeous ecological boutique hotel, and innovative art events and residencies. One such annual event is the ShopArt ArtShop, where some of India's finest artists live in the village for a month and create art for a village-wide festival. Details of the current project are listed on the website. A traditional village home was carefully remodeled to make the hotel. It has rooms costing 3,000 rupees per night for a single, 4,000 rupees for a double, and 4,500 rupees for a suite. Breakfast is included.
Sanskriti Kendra is the oasis-like seven-acre cultural center of the Sanskriti Foundation, which aims to nurture the arts. It was set up on the outskirts of South Delhi as a retreat for creative minds to connect and reflect, and as a space for innovative and interactive work. The center has three impressive museums (Museum of Everyday Arts of India, Museum of Indian Terracotta, and the Museum of Indian Textiles), amphitheater, artists' studios, workshops, and residential accommodations. Workshops in different fields of art and culture are held from September to March. Artists in residence will also have access to Indian craftspeople, archives of Indian popular culture, and traditional materials. The Artists in Residency Program requires a 20-day minimum stay. Accommodations are provided in double-story apartments with separate living and work areas, at a cost of $60 per day including meals.