The BnA Hotel, Tokyo

The unique project merges art with hospitality beyond the guest room to support local artists

Finding a unique and affordable hotel in Tokyo can be challenging, largely due to the premium placed on space in the city. This premium has also influenced the suppression of art galleries, as locals have little space to display art in their homes and galleries require a lot of space to show work—a combination that makes selling art a difficult job. The Bed & Art Project (BnA for short) is an outlet for young local artists to show their work to travelers looking to immerse in local contemporary culture.

BnA created successful tests of this idea by transforming two spaces (one in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro, the other an over 100-year-old traditional Japanese house in Kyoto) into habitable art galleries, reservable via Airbnb. Both locations blend permanent wall murals with rotating exhibitions from local artists, and BnA’s efforts are two-fold: increasing visibility of local artists and supporting them through the profits from booking. Plus, all art on view is available for sale.

This month, BnA opened its first independent property in Koenji, a Tokyo district west of Shinjuku that’s know for (among other things) great vintage record shops. The three-story central building houses a rooftop lounge, two art-covered rooms, a bar/café that doubles as the front desk, and an underground gallery—complete with DJ booth.

The two rooms in Koenji look stunning. Spirited wolves streak across the room in Yohei Takahashi’s mural “Into the Foreign” while Ryuichi Ogino plays with perception in his zig-zag room, “Ten.”

BnA’s longterm intentions are to acquire and renovate art rooms throughout Koenji (30 to 40 rooms in the next three years); a sort of decentralized hotel that gives guests the opportunity to deeply immerse themselves in the neighborhood. Partnerships with local businesses will lead to a new idea of a hotel’s “facilities,” such as offering a complimentary breakfast at a local café rather than an in-house restaurant.

Reservations for the two room Koenji hotel can be made online at BnA, as they continue to work to develop the surrounding facilities. There are also those two aforementioned residences, available on Airbnb.

Images courtesy of BnA Hotel