21C Museum Hotel opens in Bentonville today as an exciting new option for a place to stay in the heart of the downtown, a fabulous place to eat, and as an attraction in and of itself with its museum gallery space.
I got a sneak peek of the hotel a couple of weeks ago when they were still installing the art and the restaurant was days away from opening. 21C struck me as whimsical, fun, not intimidating, yet it is contemporary elegance at its finest.
Rick Reed, director of sales and marketing, told me, “We want to be a museum first, and oh yeah, we have rooms and a restaurant.” But that’s sort of an understatement to me in regard to this incredible boutique hotel.
Everything about it is different. The staff does not wear uniforms; they wear penguin pins. Green ones. Not only is it the staff uniform and name tag, but there are large statue penguins throughout the hotel that are mobile. They might appear in your room, in the fitness room, hallway or who knows where.
The hotel has 104 rooms and suites and more than 12,000 square feet of gallery space. The design is crisp and clean and lets the art pop on the walls, whether in a hallway, gallery or in a room. There is a ton of natural light during the day and artificial light at night the makes the space take on a whole different feel and experience.
About 85 percent of the art in 21C is from the owners’ private collection. The rest is on loan or commissioned pieces. You don’t have to be staying at the hotel to have access to the space. The galleries are open to the public to stroll through. You can even schedule a walk through with the art manager, taking 20 minutes to an hour depending on the depth you want to go into in discussion of the pieces. By his own admission, he said he can be as art nerdy as you want or keep things on a kindergarten level.
Outdoor spaces include an art yard with a fire pit and 20-foot-tall orange “tree” of basketball goals. You can’t play basketball though. It is still a work of art. But it’s fun to look at. Other fun includes a video gallery with Fatboy beanbag chairs to lounge in. A video plays 24/7. The art on the walls is contemporary and I can’t wait to see more of it today. One of the favorite elements I saw during my sneak peek was a large, blubbery Batman hanging from the middle of the fitness center ceiling. This oversized super hero made you want to jump on a treadmill and run, as well as laugh while you were doing so.
The hotel restaurant is The Hive and Matt McClure is the chef. You can read more about it by clicking here. While it’s pretty darn cool and snazzy, it wants to be a regular part of the community, not just a place you only go when you’re celebrating something like a birthday or anniversary. Reed said, “We want to be an everyday option. So we’ve priced our self like Table Mesa or Tusk & Trotter,” two nearby restaurants.
You can rent the space for special occasions, of course. There are several spaces that can be used together or separately to accommodate your party. There are conference rooms as well where artwork even serves as the lighting.
Rooms have twice a day maid service, regular service and then a turndown service. Bathrooms and showers are more like what you find in Vegas and Europe.
21C Museum Hotel is another exciting dimension to the art scene in Bentonville and northwest Arkansas as well as an alluring place to stay and dine. It’s no wonder The Washington Post listed Bentonville on its “In” list for 2013.