21c Museum Hotel: Cincinnati, Ohio
Everyone needs a weekend getaway every now and then... If you follow me on Instagram (emsontheroad) or snapchat (emsontheroad), it's likely you saw me running around Cincinnati recently with Ryan and our good friends Celia and Toby. We spent most of the weekend exploring the Over the Rhine neighborhood checking out breweries, the market and other historic buildings, but the highlight of the weekend was our hotel, 21c Cincinnati.
Disclaimer: I received a media rate from 21c Museum Hotels but all opinions are my own.
If you remember from my visit to the 21c in Louisville, the concept of this hotel group is quite unique: integrating contemporary art into everyday life while reusing historic buildings. Their properties create such unique juxtaposition seen in the careful preservation of the distinguished exterior and the modern mix of minimal furniture and colorful art on the interior. The art galleries are the main attraction and are open 24-7 and free. Genius.
The 21c Hotel in Cincy was originally home to the swanky Metropole Hotel that was completed in 1912 with an addition in 1924. The hotel fell into decline in the 1970s and in 2011 the 21c brand stepped in to breathe life back into this historic hotel. The Neoclassical building is still a gorgeous red terracotta, standing tall in the heart of downtown Cincinnati and now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Each property is different, featuring a permanent art collection as well as rotating exhibits. In Cincy, the lobby is bright white, with plush purple sofas in the waiting area surrounded by the Pop Stars! Popular Culture exhibit featuring a video instillation of Britney Spears, flashy "hustle" coat by Nick Cave, white baby grand piano, and etched mirror of Paris Hilton. The design team did a brilliant job of restoring the historic details of the Metropole Hotel while creating a crisp canvas for its unique exhibits.
Make sure you to visit the second floor gallery.
These are the original mosaic floors from the Metropole Hotel.
Our suite in Cincy was sleek and quite cozy. I loved the L-shaped sofa nook; it was the perfect place for morning coffee while taking in the cityscape. The bathroom was classic, terry cloth robes and all.
Naturally, the light fixtures were showstoppers.
Wishing I could fall into the cloud of pillows right now.
Other amenities of the room include a nice stack of local mags, a phone receiver for your cell (LOVE these! I have one in blue), and complimentary Nespresso and hot teas. Be careful of the minibar - everything is on a 60 second sensor.
21c's mission is to incorporate contemporary art into everyday life so each property serves as a cultural and social hub in the city. The galleries were packed all weekend and I can understand why. Admission is free and the art is beautiful, really interesting, and open 24 hours a day. Not to mention all of it's Instagram potential. The coolest instillation is on the ground floor in a hallway... these psychedelic waves move with your footsteps mesmerizing anyone walking by.
The gallery wall instillation by Brian Paumier on the main floor was another one of my favorites too - beautiful colors and textures.
From the artist: “Act Of Faith” is a balancing act of polarities, exposures and rituals. At once, it exposes and celebrates the essence of the culture of my childhood in an effort to collapse stereotypes and preconceived ideas. By driving to their essence and beauty, “Act of Faith” provokes curiosity and interest into a culture that might have been unfamiliar.
Don't miss the stairs to the second story gallery. There is a full wall of bedazzled Condoleeza Rice and Oprah paintings as well as a slick Mad Men-esque lounge and Elvis/Marilyn Monroe Warhol inspired portrait.
No art history pre-requisites required.
You may be thinking hotel restaurants are bullshit but that is not the case with 21c. We're not talking well done burgers or a boring breakfast buffet. The Metropole, named for the original hotel, was ideal backdrop for late night drinks on Saturday night. First off, they stay open til 1am (score!) which was welcome news to us when we returned to the hotel after a night out. I wanted one more nibble before heading to bed. I scanned their snack menu and ordered hand-cut fries with a dill dipping sauce and a couple of Rhinegeist brews to finish us off. The bar was still pretty full around midnight, great tunes and happy bartenders.
For my next visit I'm definitely gonna try out some of the seared octopus and charcuterie tasting.
I can't say no to breakfast food so we decided to end the weekend with a bang and do brunch with our friends at Metropole before departing.
We started off with coffees, a sticky bun and whipped ricotta. Sweet and savory is a must in my book. For mains we had a little bit of everything... the broccoli omelet, breakfast sandwich topped with pimento cheese (YUM), quinoa hash and a carrot salad. I would never think to order a carrot salad for brunch but it was the most beautiful salad I've ever seen and equally tasty.
Metropole is truly stunning. I fell in love with their big leather banquettes; so comfortable I could've posted up here for hours chatting and sampling. We probably would have stayed all afternoon if it weren't for our road trip back to Indiana. The design team did a beautiful job keeping and enhancing many of the original details of the restaurant and bar in the 1920s hotel like the original arched windows that pour the warm sunlight in. The original mosaic tile floors from the lobby make an appearance here as well.
Even if you aren't staying at the 21c Cincinnati overnight, you must check out Metropole. It's the perfect place for a nightcap or breakfast before hitting the road.
If you want to be in the heart of the city near all of the action of Over the Rhine, 21c is the place to be. Thank you to the 21c Cincy staff for a wonderful weekend! I didn't have a chance to visit the spa this time so a massage is in order for the next trip.
Don't forget to hit the gift shop before you head home!