Sharks and butterflies intertwined

Artist Damien Hirst designs the most expensive hotel suite in the world

Photo: Palms Casino Resort

Sharks suspended in formaldehyde, graphics of oversized pills and flooring patterned with butterflies await high-rolling guests staying in the most expensive hotel suite in the world. The so-called Empathy Suite does not only include the eccentric artworks of the British artist Damien Hirst, but is actually designed by him and New York firm Bentel & Bentel Architects for the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.

Available for free for guests with over one million dollars in credit at the resort, or anyone else that can cough out $200,000 for a two-night stay, Hirst's lavish Empathy Suite spans 836 sq m and occupies two storeys within the Palms. The suite offers two master bedrooms and a cantilevered outdoor pool overlooking the Las Vegas Strip, along with numerous lounges that can fit over 50 people, massage rooms, a salt relaxation room, a gym, two bathrooms and a powder room.

And as photos show Hirst's touches appear in nearly every aspect of the hotel room, from furniture and textiles that incorporate his lavish, pop culture-related designs, to six large-scale original artworks. The most dramatic involves two bull sharks suspended in formaldehyde in a white tank, called Winner/Loser.

Others include a fish design above a 12-chair bar, named Here for a Good Time Not a Long Time, and a translucent cabinet filled with pills titled Money, next to a six-person dining table. Another cabinet, The Winner Takes It All, is filled with cubic zirconia gems.

White and chrome finishes lend a contemporary feel to the interiors. Throughout, hundreds of stencilled and embroidered motifs of skulls, pills and butterflies can be found on walls, furniture and upholstery. For example, 104 stone butterflies and 17 inlaid pills are incorporated into the marble floors and the pool deck.

A host of prescription-like designs are also visible, such as pill-like stool tops in a bathroom and a curved countertop at the bar filled with medical waste. In addition, two hundred vinyl appliques shaped like drugs line the exterior and interiors of the suite, while glowing white columns have capsule designs on translucent film, referencing the interior of the Pharmacy restaurant at Hirst's Newport Street Gallery in London, which he opened within a row of former industrial buildings.

“Over the course of a few months, we explored with Damien's team every opportunity for the intersection of our work and Damien's,” said Peter Bentel of Bentel & Bentel. “Uncovering those opportunities together was the essence of play with an added dose of 'why not?'”

The Empathy Suite joins Palms Casino Resort's five other Sky Villas, all of which have been completely re-imagined by Bentel & Bentel. Ranging from $25,000 to $50,000 per night, the suites are some of the most expensive accommodation options in the world.

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