21c Museum Hotel is the 6th best hotel in the World. Or so I am led to believe by the many people who voted it so in a leading travel magazine. It was also voted as the best hotel in America too, so clearly there is something a little special about 21c even though it is based in down town Louisville, Kentucky.
Don’t get me wrong, Louisville is a very pleasant city indeed and famous as the birthplace of Muhammad Ali and the Slugger baseball bat (which is still made here), but ask me if I thought it would have at least two of the leading hotels in the world as well and I would have argued strongly against it. But it does, with 21c and The Brown, a real throwback to the very moneyed days of the American South and the birthplace of Kentucky’s famous ‘hot brown’.. So what is all the fuss about? 21c is remarkable for one very apparent reason. It’s an art museum. Well, it’s actually a museum and a luxury hotel of course but, the museum is integrated into the hotel in a very artful way (sorry). And it’s open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
The ground floor, lobby and basement combine to provide over 9,000 square feet of galleries of contemporary art showing off emerging and established international artists and throughout the hotel you’ll find additional glimpses of work. In fact, never overlooking an opportunity to promote to a captive audience, there were even posters of a forthcoming exhibition actually taped to the headboard in my room. Talking of rooms, mine was quite a place. A docked IPod full of tunes was already on and humming when I walked in, the 42 inch plasma was a welcoming sight together with the gourmet coffee maker, the beautiful décor and the wonderfully inviting Egyptian cotton sheets that wrapped themselves around me each night. And even more welcoming was the free wi fi which many hotels these days are still insisting on charging for, which is a disgrace.
21c’s restaurant Proof on Main was an equally joyous experience for me for breakfast and dinner. Paying homage to the 50 odd whiskey distilleries that used to grace Main Street, the restaurant retains much of the original brickwork and arches from the buildings’ 18th century past and manages to capture the feel and spirit of southern hospitality in a highly subtle way. The food and service were equally top drawer with a menu that whilst not expansive was varied enough for all tastes. Especially mine.
So, is 21c Museum Hotel the best hotel in the USA and 6th best in the World? I think that is a tall order personally, but Louisville has something very special here, a luxury boutique hotel with a difference that simply has to be experienced and can only add to Louisville’s hidden charms.
How much does it cost?
Rates from $269 per night Deluxe King Room.