Destination Hotels: 21c Museum Hotel

A trip for the mind in Louisville

Where: Louisville, Kentucky; 502-217-6300,

Rate: $299 per night;

We recommend: winter—it’s cozy

You wouldn’t think cross-breeding the Big Lebowski’s lived-in Pendleton cardigan with David Crosby’s walrus-y mustache would work as a hotel concept. But throw in a candy-colored ceiling that looks like Grandma’s old quilt ran into the Partridge Family’s bus, and in the words of The Dude, it really ties the room together.

21c Museum Hotel
Proof on Main at the 21c Museum Hotel

“Asleep in the Cyclone”—a functional art installation of an actual hotel room, with a record player, albums, and a look-but-don’t-touch curio cabinet—is all that and more from artists Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe. Louisville’s 21c pioneered the art-hotel concept, and this one-off room (all others in the hotel were done by the famous architecture firm Deborah Berke Partners) goes where no other imitator has yet. Steps from the hotel’s galleries, the room draws arched eyebrows and approving head nods from hotel staffers when they hear you booked it, even if they can’t explain why. “Oh, you’ll see,” they say. Funny, then, that the room is a virtual conversation pit—and no feature inspires more back and forth than that kaleidoscope ceiling.

The domed sculpture pays homage to the geodesic designs of American architect Buckminster Fuller, yet it feels like the entrance ramp of a wormhole into Greg Brady’s id. No—a Lakota sweat lodge. Maybe a blanket-and-pillow fort? In whichever case, the room’s hallmark provides the kind of coziness that makes you want to pull the covers over your head in the sunken king-sized bed for a long winter’s nap.


Eat in: Food & Wine calls 21c’s Proof on Main one of the country’s best farm-to-table restaurants.

Photo op: A double-size, golden replica of Michelangelo’s David.

Take home: The President’s Choice, a limited-release bourbon available at the newly opened Old Forester Distilling Company on nearby “Whiskey Row.”