Friday, June 20, 2014

21C Museum Hotel in Bentonville, Arkansas

Photo Courtesty of Remodelista
In 2006, Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, both avid art collectors and preservationist, embarked on a journey to create a boutique hotel that would serve as an economic boost for their community, while also creating an environment for stimulating a conversation about art and viewing it as part of everyday life.   The pair forged a partnership with the renowned architectural firm of Deborah Berke Partners to rehabilitate a group of 19th century tobacco and bourbon warehouses along Louisville's West Main Street in downtown Louisville and the 21c Museum Hotel became a reality.  The name itself pays homage to the 21st century and current world class artists whose work is showcased in the hotel.  After the success of the flagship hotel, civic leaders from across the country began to inquire about the 21c hotel and two other hotels have opened in Cincinnati and Bentonville, Arkansas.   The hotel developers are slated to open 15 new properties in the next 5 to 10 years.
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Last week I ventured off to Bentonville, Arkansas to attend Tobi Fairley's Mastermind group and had the opportunity to stay in the 21C Museum Hotel while in Bentonville.  I was so excited to have the chance to experience a 21c firsthand.

My travels have taken me to many interesting hotels, but the 21c was one of the most delightful places I have ever stayed.  The minute you arrive at the hotel you know that you aren't in a typical hotel.  The exterior looks more like a museum than a hotel with its commercial features.   The only clue it was a hotel was the doorman that greeted us when we arrived.  One step into the lobby proved this unique brand of Southern hospitality was going to make for a fun week. 

The hotel lobby serves a dual purpose for registering guests, as well as, a place for local art events.

The hotel bar was a lively spot every day beginning with happy hour.  The bar menu boasts creative interpretations of classic favorites as well as interestingly named drinks with local connotations such as the Arkansawyer  and The Benton County.  

Felipe and Daniel by Adriana Duque
My favorite part of the hotel was the art that added a quirky vibe to the hotel's atmosphere.  Artwork by Adriana Duque, a Columbian artist stood guard over the lobby.  The disapproving look from this pair made me wonder what I was doing wrong.  I can promise you these portraits made me think twice about complaining about anything.

The art ranged from beautiful tapestries, interesting wallpapers to 70's shoes adorned with jewels.  

And then there was this guy parked out or walk..that is the question...

Placement of the art was intentional.  I loved how this provoked thought and mixed media.  Sculpture with photography that looked as though they belonged together and completed each other story.

The chandelier was a conversation piece which consists of many chandeliers and wigs united to create this huge menagerie of a mangled mess dripping with crystals.

The "Orange Tree" by Alexandre Arrechea is a large scale sculpture of a metal tree with basketball hoops sprouting from its branches.  The Orange Tree is part of the "outside in" exhibit.  Who doesn't wish they had this in their backyard?

I connected with this guy immediately since I had left Charlotte on a whim and packed for my trip the morning I left.  Yes, I did feel as though I had forgotten my head!  

I particularly love the photography by Vee Spears in The Hive restaurant.  This series is entitled "The Birthday Party."

  I have inquired about untitled 16!  Isn't she fab?

I'm also crushing on untitled #3.  I love the playful nature of these pieces.  #3 really the viewer in with her engaging stare.

My favorite art at the museum was the green penguins by Cracking Art Group,  which I think I can fairly say is the mascot of the 21c hotels.  The original hotel in Louisville had red penguins, then Cincinnati had blue, the Bentonville hotel is home to these cool green penguins.  How fun are these? I am happy to report one of the green penguins followed us home! Everywhere we went in note 21c the green penguins followed us.  

You never knew where the green penguins would show up...Can you see one in the background in this photo?

Libby Langdon and I a penguin join us for dinner one night!  Libby and I were discussing her new line. with Walmart online, while we were in Walmart country!  Have you checked out her new line with Walmart?  It is like everything Libby does...amazing!  If you haven't checked it out, please make sure you do!  Click here to see these amazing products at great prices.  I'm thinking beach houses, dorm rooms, playrooms and more!  I'm proud to say that Libby is from North Carolina!  Libby a now a well known New York Designer and is often seen on Rachel Ray, The Today Show and her own show Daykeover Show but if you ever meet her you will think she is the girl next door.  Libby is amazing! I am a huge Libby fan, can you tell?

My biggest thrill at the 21C Museum Hotel in Bentonville was due to social media.  I noticed the chef Matthew McClure had his twitter handle on the menu so I decided to ask his advice on what I should order.  He tweeted back and said "got you covered/"  Boy!  Did he!  I got the most amazing plate of fresh, local vegetable delivered by the chef himself!  He even agreed to this photo!  #luckygirl!

I'm excited to share there is a 21c Museum Hotel due to open in Durham, NC in early 2015.  The 17 story historic Hill building in downtown Durham will house the 4th 21c boutique hotel.  The creators of 21c, known for preserving history and in this case will be renovating a building which was originally designed by Shreve, Lamb and Harmon whose firm is best known for designing the Empire State Building in New York City.  In North Carolina, the firm is best known for designing the R. J. Reynolds building in Winston Salem.  I personally love 21c's efforts to preserve a city's history, by taking old historic buildings like the Hill building, and making it an asset to the current scene rather than tearing it down to build something new. To read about future projects of 21c click here for more information.

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  1. Lisa, this is a fantastic post as I believe in the same thing about restoring old buildings. The architecture in most cases is simply amazing and beautiful. As an artist myself I can surely appreciate the remarkable work and team it takes to restore one of these historic sights as I am also a decorative artist who receives commissions to bring these looks into clients homes. Congrats on the opportunity to take part in this.

    1. Thanks Arthur. It was fun! I high recommend staying in a 21c if given the opportunity

  2. Hi Lisa, I do so agree with you. Your roses look perfect in your aqua jars and look stunning with your white sofa and bright pillows. Absolutely lovely.
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  3. Wow, what a great hotel! Why are there no such hotels in NYC? Cheap hotels in NYC doesn't even show any museum hotels there and I bet that if there are such, they would be expensive as hell.

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  9. This looks like a great place to stay. I will check it out at but can you tell me how much did you pay for the Museum hotel per night?


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