A night in a museum at the 21c Hotel Louisville

The 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, USA, is the perfect blend of hospitality charm and an impressive art collection.

LCD Award 2017

We’ve collaborated with the Leading Culture Destinations Awards this year, partnering with them to host the Avis Travellers’ Awards which present the ‘Best Emerging Culture City of the Year’ and the ‘Best Art Hotel of the Year.’

When someone visits Louisville for the first time, and asks for my recommendations on where to visit, the list usually begins the same way. Something along the lines of grab coffee and cookies at Please & Thank You, do some shopping in NuLu, and be sure to stay at 21c.

Banner image courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels

That list has grown over the years as the city has developed more and more over time. Even though the depth of Louisville’s offering to visitors and locals alike has increased. 21c has remained on my recommendation list for over 10 years now.

The 21c brand’s uniqueness is what makes it special. The original location opened here in Louisville over 10 years ago and was founded by preservationists and contemporary art collectors Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson. They believed in the preservation and revitalisation of one of our most neglected neighbourhoods – downtown Louisville.

Over the years, the brand has gone on to include more than just the original property, but their mission to seamlessly blend art and hospitality has never changed nor faltered.

21c’s bar and restaurant, Proof on Main

On any given Friday night, you’re likely to find me nestled at 21c’s signature bar and restaurant, Proof on Main. Its drinks menu includes many signature cocktails – try their Old Fashioned if you get the chance. With a laidback vibe, it attracts the movers and shakers of Louisville and there’s no better place I like to go and just enjoy the sights and sounds around me. It’s an ideal setup, with a real mix of out-of-towners and locals. It means some faces in there you’ll never see twice. But, you’ll always have someone to chat to.

Image credit: Josh Johnson

Their menu, thanks to executive chef Mike Wajda, is easily one of the best in the city. My favourite? Their Bison Burger with Parmesan Fries. If I’m feeling extra fancy that night I’ll add truffle oil to the fries. Trust me, well worth the few extra dollars. Oh, and you can’t have dinner at Proof without ordering their Charred Octopus. Never had it before? Don’t worry – you’re going to enjoy every last bite. Just don’t burn your hand(s) on the cast iron skillet – those things get real hot, especially around these parts.

In addition to the culinary artistry, Proof’s recent artistic transformation celebrates people and place in colourful glory.

Image credit: Josh Johnson

Residential respite

Rooms at 21c Louisville are filled with thought provoking art and ‘designed to feel like a residential respite’.

Even though I call Louisville home, I’ve found myself staying in the decadent rooms of 21c on more than one occasion. After all, staycations are sometimes just what the doctor ordered.

Image courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels

With their high ceilings and large windows, the guest rooms here make for the perfect Instagram photos. Any photographic evidence of your stay will leave your friends with a severe case of FOMO. And, who knows, you may even wake up to a Red Penguin outside your door the next morning.

Now if that’s not an Instagram story waiting to happen then I don’t know what is.

A museum… In a hotel

Last, but certainly not least, the main floor of 21c Louisville is a contemporary art museum that’s open to the public 24/7, 365 days a year. This makes it the perfect setting for everything from first date nights to the wedding of your dreams.

Five 19th century warehouses live on here as more than 9,000 square feet of exhibition space. Curated exhibitions and site-specific installations occupy this amazing space, attracting and entertaining people from all walks of life.

Image credit: Josh Johnson

Being a born and bred Louisvillian I might be slightly biased, but seeing as how we are home to the original 21c it comes as no surprise that this location continues to rack up award nominations. I’ve visited the majority of their other properties, but the Red Penguin’s nest will always hold a special place in my heart.

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