Photographer Thomas Hawk has been working on a massive project to shoot the 100 largest cities in America. Of course that is an extremely broad and ambitious task. Provided the endless time, financial independence, disposable income and unconditional support from my family I’d love to do something similar and shoot the 100 finest hotels in American – a new Grand Tour. But why limit it to America or even 100 for that matter? Who’s to say that hotel 101 is any less luxurious than 100? And maybe the line should be drawn somewhere much lower. Maybe the top 25 or so are the cream of the crop and there’s a considerable drop in quality after that. Possibly 100 is simply the arbitrary number for Thomas in order to give the project nice round indicator of completion.
As I was saying, hotels are some of my favorite places to visit. And it’s fitting that you need to stay in them when you travel. For cities like New York that have an endless wealth of attractions, fine hotels are just more great additions to the full portfolio. But even cities that aren’t rich travel destinations still build great Meccas of accommodation in order to entice outsiders. They are prime sources for high architecture, art, culture and history in their given location. A good example is this hotel, the Seelbach in Louisville, Kentucky.
When travelling to new population centers, even if just passing through, I always seek out the finest hotel. Even cities of certain size that appear to have nothing of substance to their name will have a hotel worth at least a quick stroll through the lobby. Hotels not only contribute great buildings and business to a community but they also salvage, restore and preserve properties in danger of destruction. They occupy palazzos in Venice, castles in Germany, monasteries in France, estates in America and just about any other conceivable property of importance that had once seen better days.
To the benefit of the photographer, most hotel establishments are extremely proud of their usually historic institutions and want people taking photos as much as photographers want to take them. If only I could locate a wealthy donor to invest in my new Hawk-inspired project plan – my New Grand Tour – and send me around the world to document the finest the service industry has to offer.