I just want to go somewhere. Right now.
The place I’m dreaming about: The Metropol in Moscow, the grand dame hotel that’s the setting for Amor Towles’ 2016 novel “A Gentleman in Moscow.”
Surprisingly, the hotel is open, with coronavirus protocols posted on the website. The hotel has nine different types of rooms and suites and was built before the 1917 Russian Revolution. It also has 365 rooms, each with a different shape and decor.
Check out this visit, which lends a romantic flair even in a pelting rainstorm. I could do without the caviar (I’m vegetarian), the golf shot and the stuffed bear, but the dancing!
A standard classic room for Tuesday night: $143, which may make me think about upgrading. Info: Metropol
But not right now. While we are all following safe-at-home guidelines, virtual video tours and photos will have to do. You can safely visit online, and you just might get some future travel ideas too.
Bey and Jay at the Louvre
Tour the Louvre with Beyoncé and Jay Z. Two years ago they shot a video at the Paris museum, starting with the couple in pastel power suits standing in front of the Mona Lisa. The video pans through a slew of paintings and sculptures, some you may recognize, some you may not.
Here’s your chance to study them. The Louvre’s website details the 17 paintings that appear in the shoot. Click on each image to get the history, starting with the ancient Greek statue Winged Victory of Samothrace, moving on to Renaissance masterpieces, like “Madonna of the Green Cushion,” and on to the final “Portrait of a Black Woman.”
When the museum reopens, go for real. Info: Jay-Z and Beyoncé at the Louvre
Music to watch art by at MoMA
There’s something soothing about setting art to music. We could use a strong dose of both right now. Composer Conor Bourgal does this brilliantly with a musical work called “A Portable Embrace.”
He created the piece for MoMA in NYC so that viewers would have something to listen to while standing in front of Jackson Pollock’s “One Number 31, 1950.” The canvas stretches more than 17 feet; the music lasts 15 minutes. During its closure, the museum paired the two online, a handy way to appreciate both at once. (Don’t skip the notes about noises you hear in the music.)
Enjoy, and then visit the museum (when it reopens) and compare your experiences. Info: MoMA’s “A Portable Embrace”
Just one biblical painting
There’s so much to explore on the Google Arts & Culture page. I kind of fell in love with an art-zoom visit to “Tower of Babel,” a painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
Pop singer Feist narrates a deep dive into the 16th century “genesis image that comes after the flood when mankind drunk with pride built a very high tower whose goal was to reach the sky.”
Details spring to life in ways you might miss — all the little people, building the stairway to heaven as it crumbles underfoot — if you were there in person. So many figures working so hard on so many levels, all demystified in the close-up by Feist. You can find a separate “zoom in” interface of the painting by itself on the Arts & Culture website.
That will have to do until the reopening of the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, where the painting hangs. Info: Google Arts & Culture
The queen’s life in London
Buckingham Palace is closed right now. Even the famed changing of the guard has been suspended during the coronavirus crisis. But that doesn’t mean you can’t snoop around Queen Elizabeth’s massively historic London home.
I went to the Royal Collection Trust for room-by-room views. Granted, these are areas open for public viewing. But still, who could resist ogling the H-shaped and lavishly set dining tables in a ballroom completed when Queen Victoria was on the throne?
And speaking of thrones, there’s a 360-degree panorama view you can “move around.” It displays the chairs — hewn from beechwood and covered in silk damask — and everything else in the throne room designed by John Nash. When you tire of the palace, you can click into Windsor Castle’s rooms too. Info: Royal Collection Trust
The Eiffel Tower turned 130 last year. The Paris landmark invited employees to take photos from some angles only they can see. The top 13 have been posted online. They’re a little quirky, with views you wouldn’t see on a usual tour.
My fave: a sign for eyeglasses that seems to beg viewers to take a closer look at the big tower. And where did those soap bubbles come from? You can click through the photos on the tower’s website, where you’ll also find floor-by-floor views. Info: Eiffel Tower