The Henry Jones Art Hotel might be new when it comes to five-star accommodation, but as well as being Australia's first and only dedicated art hotel, it contains loads of history.
Henry Jones was born in 1862 and at 12 began work in Peacock's jam factory, pasting labels on tins for 10 hours a day, six days a week. Jones' entrepreneurial talents saw him rise to fame and fortune over five continents, with interests in jam, fruit, timber, mining and shipping. It would be hard to find a kitchen table in Australia which has never held a jar of IXL jam, the clever brand name stemming from Henry's motto, "I excel in all the products I make".
The historic warehouses have been transformed but the atmosphere remains. The colonial outpost of Hobart received exotic cargoes from the US, India, the East Indies and China, so the location has seen thousands of settlers and visitors, their possessions and wares being unloaded. The buildings eventually became factories, warehouses and lodgings.
Once again the buildings are lodgings, now of the very sophisticated variety. An elegant three-storey glass and timber atrium is a focal point and comfortably accommodates around 300 guests on social occasions. Architects have cleverly blended old with ultra modern the original staircase, soaring timber ceilings and restored machinery sit comfortably with the rich influences of trading history with India and China.
The hotel features over 250 original and contemporary works of art by leading and emerging Tasmanian artists. (The hotel's next-door neighbour is the University Art School and its students are very keen to exhibit). Art catalogues are available at reception, in guest suites or online.
All suites feature natural timber furniture, special lighting, a lavish king bed with exotic silk covers and ottomans. All have European-style stainless steel and translucent glass bathrooms complemented by superb sandstone walls. Most have harbour views while the rest overlook the beautiful atrium.
The Art Installation Suite is enormous and its natural stone and rustic brickwork is hung with paintings from the catalogue. It overlooks the atrium and has a small balcony, perfect for evening drinks or a lazy breakfast.
Deluxe Spa Suites have atrium or harbour views. Some have original walls of stone with timber trusses, columns and soaring beams. They all have a Kohler elliptical double spa, said to be good for the spirits.
Superior Suites overlook Sullivans Cove, Victoria and Constitution Docks, the city and Mount Wellington, which is often snow-capped. The translucent glass bathrooms have Kohler elliptical double bath. Standard Suites offer harbour or atrium outlooks. The bathrooms have a double shower. All rooms have flat screen television, DVD and high speed Internet connection.
The IXL Long Bar is the hotel meeting place. An amusing highlight is an array of cans from the jam-making era.
Steam Packet is the hotel's signature restaurant, named after a restaurant located in the building in earlier times. Diners enjoy breakfast and lunch under illuminated sails in the sunlit space and dinner is served in the formal, red-walled dining room, which is lined with things nautical. The food is sophisticated and beautifully presented with, as you would imagine, strong emphasis on Tasmanian produce.