21c Museum Hotel Louisville
What We Love
- Part hotel, part art museum; the hotel's collection of 21st-century art is outstanding
- Farm-to-table restaurant Proof on Main offers over 75 KY Bourbons
- Housed in a historic former tobacco warehouse
What To Know
- The first hotel in the 21c collection, the property opened in 2006
- Art-forward design may not appeal to travelers looking for traditional Southern charm
- It’s a quirky, small hotel
- Free WiFi
- Handicap Accessible
- Parking On Site
There are lots of reasons people open hotels: to make money, to have fun, to satisfy their egos. Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, the owners of the 90-room 21c Museum Hotel, had a different motive: to introduce the world to their vast contemporary art collection and their beloved city of Louisville at the same time. North America’s only museum dedicated solely to art in the 21st century, 21c has 9,000 square feet of gallery space that is free and open to the public 24/7. Art is so essential at 21c that the museum hosts rotating concerts, screenings and even Yoga with Art classes.
Bed and Bath
In keeping with the hotel’s art bent, the rooms are highly design-oriented. High ceilings and large windows are standard, while many rooms feature exposed brick, a reminder of the building’s past life as a tobacco warehouse. Guestrooms offer luxury bedding, but it’s the bizarrely endearing items such as pewter mint julep cups and the hotel’s omnipresent Red Penguin sculptures that remind you that this is a true boutique hotel, with personalized service and modern Southern hospitality.
You don’t have to leave 21c to sample some of the best bourbon in Kentucky: The hotel’s restaurant, Proof on Main, has a bourbon list long enough to be called the Bourbon Library. Even the low end, an Old Rip Van Winkle 10-year-old, is excellent, while the 23-year-old Van Winkle Family Reserve will knock your socks off. Don’t miss the specialties on the cured meat menu, which features ultra-authentic local specialties like Kentucky country ham and pork jowl terrine alongside standards including Tuscan salami.
In the Area
Eight distilleries make up the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and all are open for tours. From famed Maker’s Mark and Jim Beam to lesser-known Tom Moore and Heaven Hill, these distilleries make 95 percent of Kentucky’s bourbon, and all are close to the city; you might want to spring for a car and driver for the day. Even if you aren’t a baseball fan, the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory is a worthwhile tour. See the factory floor, then browse the fascinating collection of baseball memorabilia. For the city’s best nightlife, drive — or cab it — to Bardstown Road. There you’ll find quirky bars, cafés and music venues that have nurtured many of the great Louisville bands through the years.
How to Get There
Fantastic two (2) night stay at 21c visiting downtown Louisville and the play Hamilton. We walked everywhere in a safe environment to visit museums, restaurants,and distilleries. A perfect location and a perfect visit. Very Friendly city!!
We have stayed at 21c often. I surprised my wife with this stay after seeing Hamilton on our wedding anniversary. We arrived just before 11PM and wanted a quiet area to share a bottle of wine and apps. However, the restaurant was about to close and we were refused seating and directed to the bar which was jammed with people. We finally elbowed our way to the bar and, after a while, were able to find seats, but surrounded by many standing patrons shouting and nudging us from behind for their drinks. When we got to our room, the TV didn't work. And at 3AM we were awoken by extremely loud rap music and partiers in the room next store. We had to call the front desk. At over $500 for the room that one night (outrageous to begin with!), I feel we were poorly treated in the restaurant and deserved better service and atmosphere. It was not the evening I envisioned. We received little value for what we spent and will have trouble recommending 21c Louisville in the future.
Was able to curate a wonderful staycation for my girlfriend thanks to the easy communication and advise from the hotel staff. Delicious meal at Proof on Main followed by a bottle of bubbly and chocolate covered berries in the room. Best massage ever the next morning and a fulfilling breakfast. Great service and even better hotel!
Just a very fun hotel in a great location. Beautiful artwork in the museum and a beautifully designed hotel. Staff was very friendly and helpful. Only negative is there aren't any mini-fridge's in the rooms.
My wife and I attended an event in downtown Louisville and were looking for a hotel that would enhance our overall experience for the one night we were in town. 21c was just what we were looking for. Beautiful hotel with cool ambiance, hip lounge with enjoyable people made us feel like we were at “the place to be.” The event was fun, but the time we spent at 21c was even better.