When looking at career paths that require a lot of travel, being a musician is undoubtedly up there. Whether it’s for modest, regional travel to drum up local visibility or a broader promotional push or a full-on global tour, recording artists and bands find themselves spending a lot of time on the road. It’s not shocking then that hotels (from big-brand chains to independent properties) have been building up relevant programming and amenities not only to court the loyalty of these frequent-fliers but also to make their stay as comfortable and as productive as possible.
Hard Rock Hotel has had a long-standing relationship with the biz. The halls and walls of its 30 locations are like music-history museums, featuring memorabilia such as Elvis Presley's 1963 Rolls-Royce, Bon Jovi’s guitars, and Britney Spears’ costumes. In 2009, the brand launched the Sound of Your Stay program, which is meant to seamlessly weave music into your vacation, but in 2011 this was fleshed out by allowing guests complimentary access to a Fender guitar, which comes with headphones and a Fender Mustang headphone amplifier, so that they can rock out in their guestrooms. But that hasn’t stopped pros-on-site to make use of the amenity. In fact, some traveling musicians have gone as far as to to buy borrowed Fenders directly from Hard Rock. (Even Shawn Mendes couldn’t help himself on a recent stay in Ibiza.)
But not all musicians play the guitar. Over in Sarasota, Florida’s Art Ovation Hotel, the breadth of instruments you can borrow run the gamut thanks to its commitment to almost every creative discipline. The property introduced the Check In, Jam Out partnership with Sam Ash, a local music shop, so you can get your hands on keyboards, electric drum set, violin, cello, banjo, or guitar by calling the concierge.
Ace Hotel, on the other hand, is focusing on music-making’s more technical aspects. The mini-chain knows that not only is the brand a popular lodging option among musicians but that many of its guests have recorded music in their rooms. (Atlas Sound recorded songs for the Parallax album at Ace Hotel New York, for example.) So in 2015, Studio A — a program where guests can call down for high-end mics, effects pedals, and synthesizers — was started at the Downtown Los Angeles location. It was supposed to help with those who want to tackle an in-room recording session. And many have: A session with Larry Cane was part of the announcement, but artists like Jamie Lidell and Jamila Woods have also tapped Studio A’s inventory. Flatbush Zombies scored their documentary "Building A Ladder" at the hotel, too. Ace Hotels has plans for a brand-wide roll out of Studio A.
But some hotels aren’t just letting you borrow materials; they’re building entire an infrastructure meant to address your musical needs. W Hotels was all over the news in 2016 when it launched its first ensuite recording studio in Bali, for instance. And when the The Hutton Hotel — an independent property located seconds away from Nashville’s Music Row — completed its renovations in 2017, many of its new features were built around how musician-friendly it has become. One of the major talking points was the introduction of two writer studios — each designed by country-music star Dierks Bentley and Grammy-winner Ryan Tedder. Industry pros have taken full advantage: “The Middle” by Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey was recorded in the room Tedder designed. But The Hutton has tripled down on its music credentials: All summer long, it hosted writers’ retreats (led by award-winning talent) for aspiring songwriters. And on Oct. 1, 2019, it began its own instrument loaner program in collaboration with Fender. After all, cities don’t get more music-obsessed than Nashville.
With everything that the hospitality industry is doing to accommodate today’s traveling minstrel, on-site gigs are of course nothing new. But if you’re a singer or band in desperate need of an impromptu performance, rehearsal session, or you just want to try out some new material on an unsuspecting audience, you might want to book a room with Aloft. In addition to discounted rates, musicians staying at any of their hotels are welcome to use the W XYZ Bar (recently revamped for staging live acts) for an intimate set on-the-fly. Just talk to the GM.