Art Ovation: 21st Century Speakeasy

By Molly Russo

When the Art Ovation Hotel opened in April of this year, it followed the Westin to fill a much-needed gap downtown in the short-term accommodations department. But its heart-of-downtown location, as opposed to both Ritz Carlton and Westin’s west-of-41 addresses, makes it a great option for visitors who come to the area for our wonderful downtown arts scene. Located on N. Palm literally across the street from Florida Studio Theatre and a few paces from the Sarasota Opera, Art Ovation is an aptly-named for this artsy sector of downtown, and it was no coincidence that Realtor Extraordinaire and myself stumbled upon it one evening while leaving a show…

Come for the Music, Stay for the Ambiance

On a rainy Wednesday evening, while strolling back to our cars after a Cabaret performance at Florida Studio Theatre (a summer and winter series that we love — find out more about it here), the sound of jazzy piano hit our ears as we watched a cocktail-attired couple exit the Art Ovation Hotel. Modern and angular busts greet pedestrians from the sidewalk and look like a futuristic Easter Island Head. This coupled with the Roarin’ ‘20s vibe we felt from the music meant we had to go in.

Art Ovation is stark, contemporary, and clean on the inside. A formal dining room is to the right, the hotel and gorgeous rooftop bar & pool are above (the latter closed due to the inclement weather during our visit), and a bar, nestled in the midst of wide room is to the left. We made for the bar and passed a gallery of bright paintings on the way, reaffirming the hotel’s commitment to the arts. The expansive front space, ideal for cocktail parties or dances I’m sure, currently held a band, well known among Sarasota’s live music scene, Hot Club of SRQ.

Elevated, Classy, & Artistic in Every Detail

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We pulled out our stools and took a seat, greeted immediately by a bartender clad in a crisp white oxford with an undone bowtie hanging around his neck. This uniform, worn by the rest of the wait staff too, added to the classy-but-undone atmosphere. This place could be both—and everything from the bartenders to scent of the lobby told you so. Needing to tidy up my hair after being caught in the rain, I was surprised when I entered the Ladies’ to be greeted not by music, but by the soothing sound of the Great Gatsby being read to me. What a touch; they thought of every detail.

The rest of the evening passed over a bottle of champagne (pink, of course) and polite conversation. The drinks were reasonable and the ambiance was very unique and very Sarasota, pulling upon the cultural influences of our city and marrying contemporary class with the stylish atmosphere of a speakeasy. We loved it, and will be back!

Art Ovation Hotel | 1255 N. Palm Avenue | https://artovationhotel.com/