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Creative block is an occupational hazard for anyone who has shunned the 9-5 to put passion above pay cheques. You know you probably just need to get some rest, but these days taking a break often involves a Kit Kat rather than a paradisiacal wellness retreat. Don’t let tight purse strings stop you; pen like Hemingway, paint like Picasso, cause controversy like Wilde or make art for art’s sake at these creative sanctuaries for a range of budgets.
It’s given artists refuge since 1979, so it’s no surprise that this western American retreat is known as one of the best in the world. Putting pen to paper is no problem here as writers benefit from enormous desks in prime positions, both indoors and out. Seeking to give the gift of time and space to all disciplines, The Artists’ Barn contains three visual art studios, a large dance studio, a dark room and a music composition studio. The only thing to distract you here is the view of the Santa Cruz mountains that frame the monastic property.
Fogo Island, Newfoundland and Labrador
Banishing yourself to Fogo Island with its ferocious and unpredictable climate makes procrastination near on impossible. Previous artists have stayed for one to three months and filled the inn with progressive sculptures and eclectic handcrafted furniture. The luxurious lodgings present dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views of the ocean in every room, an art gallery and a rooftop spa and sauna.
Lofty ceilings and plenty of natural light make this the ideal Italian retreat. Wander through the tree-lined archways following the scent of the lemon groves to the historic Palazzo Galli Tassi, which dates back to 1510. A handful of the rooms are left completely blank, acting as floor-to-ceiling canvases for creatives to immerse themselves in. The unique touch of the Numeroventi is their complete investment in the growth of artist; at the end of the residency they invite them to show their work in the grand palazzo.
The world’s first free hotel operates in the currency of experience. Seasoned travellers preach that immersion in new cultures are a priceless commodity and cities thrive off creative diversity. Forward-thinking, Gothenburg-based clothing label Elvine agrees, championing this ethos by offering creatives a free room in their hotel. With speedy wifi and endless free coffee, as well as a few luxury extras (robes, slippers and a treasure trove of grooming products) the Creators Inn redefines the term home from home. A glamorous alternative to couch surfing, Italian DJ Alexander Robotnick and fashion duo Jojo & Malou were among the first to stay.
It’s less a retreat and more just a bed but when it’s located in the California desert and looks like some sort of an apocalyptic experiment, we’re not complaining. Described as having a “sci-fi” aesthetic the experimental project consists of 10 deluxe sleeping pods, a communal outdoor kitchen, open-air showers and compost loos. The minimalist campsite spans 35 acres and was the brainchild of US artist Andrea Zittel, who is known for experimenting with freedom and sustainability.
Dotted across the Scottish highlands, bothies are essentially tents with a solid roof, offering respite from the wilderness and little else beyond the basics. Taking inspiration from the visionary hermit and poet Sweeney, solitude is something The Bothy Project provides in abundance, alongside bunk beds, writing desks, and a fire. They’re found using coordinates, so you’ll need to get handy with a compass.
Don’t let the fact that Solange stayed here for her honeymoon make you think this is a flash celebrity haunt which will soon go out of fashion; the colonial beach town of Trancoso has been the home of bohemian beach bunnies since the 1970s. Soak up some of their carefree spirit and check into pistachio-coloured casas lovingly restored by Dutch artist Wilbert Das and local artisans. Vogue photographers, fashion designers and sculptures have all stayed and contributed to Uxua Casa ensuring that no piece of furniture, art or fabric is the same.
Joshua Tree, California
A desert town always on the cusp of revival, Joshua Tree is a mecca for musicians, with Gram Parsons ashes scattered through the national park after Phil Kaufam famously stole his body from the mortuary. The weird, the wonderful and the eccentric are welcomed at Hicksville Trailer Park where guests can choose to stay in a galactic airstream, gypsy wagon (complete with tarot cards) or “The Fifi” which is described like being insider a genie’s bottle and comes with an extensive collection of neon wigs – if that doesn’t get your creative juices flowing we don’t know what will.
With velvet armchairs and shabby chaise lounges haphazardly thrown together, La Muse is everything a bohemian enclave should be. Amid well-used writing desks and table dressers that no doubt hold as many secrets as the walls, this 10-room manor house is a simple, romantic transcendence from the hustle of city life. The quaint town of Labastide Esparbairenque is a maze of cobbled streets, 13th-century architecture and fairytale forestry. Neither a novelty nor overly luxurious, the understated La Muse Retreat offers the chance to disconnect in order to reconnect.
Manhattan, New York
Among the wannabe hipsters sporting bit-too-new Dr Martins and the fresh boys who have just discovered progressive house, you’ll find original Ace Hotel pioneers crouching over Macbooks and fuelled by flat whites. This place is the best friend of freelancer, offering they have one night stands with artists from Manhanttan to Shoreditch. Not as wonderfully sordid as it sounds, their One Night Only programme invites artists to spend the night turning rooms into work spaces and lobbies into studios. Think of it as a weekly open-mic night for art.
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