Friends of mine have been gushing about The Henry Jones Art Hotel for years, but it’s only recently that I got the opportunity to head down and check it out while on assignment. All the while I was wondering, what exactly is a ‘Dedicated Art Hotel’?
Photo: Courtesy of The Henry Jones Art Hotel
The answer, as I found out when I visited, is basically an art gallery you can sleep in. But The Henry Jones is even more than that. So much more.
Anyone who has been to Hobart has probably noticed its beautiful fusion of quaint, simple, step-back-in-time charm mixed with a gourmet, creative flair. As it happens, this personality just about sums up this fascinating museum of a hotel.
The Henry Jones is on Hobart’s waterfront, occupying nine sandstone structures dating back to the 1860s, which were originally built by convicts and were once part of the IXL Jam factory. Delve a little deeper, and there’s a fascinating heritage to be found, that gives The Henry Jones a certain je ne sais quoi, an enigmatic atmosphere that lingers like a Tassie morning fog in its hallways and rooms.
It was just 10 years ago that the site was rescued from a probable encounter with a wrecking ball, and reimagined as its current character. The process of reincarnation unearthed a plethora of treasures: century-old jam labels, rooms full of abandoned tin cans, and a lavish administration building housing a stash of intriguing documents that when pieced together, tell the story of the life and career of the IXL head honcho, one of Australia’s first knights, Sir Henry Jones himself.
A big nod goes to the developers and architects, Circa Morris Nunn Architects, who were able to honour this building’s story and present it for everyone to enjoy in the most comfortable and stylish of fashions. The hotel is a space where both art and history are heroes, complementing each other beautifully.
All around the building, you’ll find over 400 artworks by local artists, some depicting the building and the waterfront as it was 150 years ago – a totally engaging illustration to the Henry Jones’ story. Each artwork has been painstakingly chosen and displayed under the supervision of the in-house curator, and each one is for sale. And there’s your definition of a Dedicated Art Hotel.
But the history is on exhibit too, and as of July 2014, an in-house history liaison is on staff running free tours of the building to guests ($15 for non-guests).
Picture original sandstone walls, built by the hands of some unfortunate bread-thief, etched with the blackened stains of time. Look up and see the exposed tin roof supported by original timber beams. Now picture the remains of a conveyer belt complete with iron wheels, running across the full length of the room. This gorgeous factory setting was my digs for the night, decked out with, but not overshadowed by, all the modern comforts you’d expect and a hand-selected exhibition of Australian art.
This is a ‘standard’ room, even though it’s really anything but. I was treated to a sneak peek of the other room types and immediately began mentally planning a return stay in each of them. There’s the Henry Jones Suite, a palatial setup inside the old timber panelled IXL boardroom, and the Peacock Terrace, a two-storey two-bedroom abode dating back to 1823, complete with crumbling wallpaper and the original, somewhat spooky, spiral staircase.
GO HERE IF
You’d like a room with a story, not just a view – although those are available too.
SIX WORD SUMMARY
Ethereal, iconic authenticity hosts artistic enjoyment
Circa Morris-Nunn Architects
IN THE HOOD
OK, I’m going to sound like everyone else who goes to Hobart when I say this, but there are two musts on the to-do list. They are MONA, for glaringly obvious reasons, and the Salamanca Markets, held a short walk away from the hotel, every Saturday. In the same area, indulge your history buff a bit more over lunch at The Quarry bar and restaurant.
From $420 per night, room only.