21c Museum Hotel in Durham contains everything a posh boutique hotel should: iconic architecture, a great bar and restaurant, and many levels of eye-catching modern art. What further interested me about this hotel, which I’d be hearing so much about, was their available event space, which always perks up my ears since I’m also a wedding photographer.
You walk in and it feels like a wonderful kickback to the era of Fitzgerald and the roaring 20’s. The art deco nods on the directory sign and post office letterbox by the elevators intrigue you – are you in a hotel? Are you in an office building? Alas, you are certain you’re in a hotel once you turn the corner and are greeted by one of the hotel team members, happy to answer questions! The lobby is actually a floor up and I was directed to level 2 to see the space and additional art.
The hotel check-in desk had a really cool installation of records and little plastic figurine women. This installation is underneath the glass countertop of check-in. I love that if you look at it from different angles it looks different each time. Far away it looks like an army of women, close up you can see their individual form. Don’t be surprised if the art behind the desk changes, as it often does!
A team member was kind enough to show me around and explain some of the art. I learned that it rotates every 6 months and was sure to capture photos of the record cutouts knowing I may not have another chance to. If you look closely at the record title it has to do with the laser cutout shape.
Whoever curates the art collection does a really beautiful job. There’s so much variety in mediums, textures, colors and subjects while all being modern and vibrant enough to keep your interest. Even their mirrored staircase interested me – I couldn’t resist a selfie.
I was then shown two other great areas: the vault and event space. The vault is original from the time the building served as a bank. I love that they installed flooring with a money motif! Even the couches and tables jive with the vibe of the space. After we toured the vault we went upstairs to the grand event space. It used to be where the bank tellers were; now you can celebrate with up to 300 guests ’til late in the evening at a wedding or holiday party under creative light fixtures and next to the most spectacular velvet curtains.
Before heading out I was sure to thoroughly look around the restaurant and bar. I LOVED the fake animal heads (because fake animal heads are way better than real ones) and I just loved how playful and colorful they were. I appreciate their local touches too: the tables in the photo above in their lounge area have maps of Durham on them.
Thank you, 21c Museum Hotel for an awesome tour. I am looking forward to photographing a wedding there one day and simply coming back to view future art incstallments. 21c also has locations in Louisville (Kentucky), Cincinnati (Ohio), and Bentonville (Arkansas).
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What are some of your favorite boutique hotels around the world?