21c Museum Hotel in Durham, North Carolina, is a truly unique experience. In this review of this downtown Durham hotel, we'll share why it's a great place to stay in the area and what makes it extra special.
It's a hotel not too far from downtown Raleigh and Chapel Hill and only 30 minutes from the airport. The only question we asked ourselves after our first stay was, “Why didn't we stay here sooner?” And we can't stop recommending it to all family and friends since our stay!
Our review comes to you in the form of reasons we love 21c Museum Hotel in Durham in addition to photos of this fabulous hotel.
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➤ The Location of 21c Museum Hotel Durham is Ideal
21c Museum Hotel in Durham boutique hotel is within walking distance from downtown Durham's hot spots, including tons of local shops, restaurants, bars, and performance spaces like DPAC.➜ Check Availability at 21c Museum Hotel Durham
➤ 21C MUSEUM HOTEL in Durham Honors the City's History
Dan and I absolutely love the history of the hotel. In fact, it's on the National Register of Historic Places.
Its past life is celebrated from its 1970s-esque Terrazzo floors to its basement vault to this ultra-cool Directory board. It's posted immediately after you walk in the front door and provides museum information and weekly events.
➤ There is an Ulta-Cool Bank Vault in the Basement of The 21c Museum Hotel Durham
This is one of the coolest features we have ever seen in any hotel. You'll instantly feel like a James Bond character here! Head downstairs at 21c Durham to see the many small safety deposit boxes to gargantuan vaults.
The floor tiles are cheeky and have money printed on them! How posh would it be to have a little downtime after a day of exploring downtown Durham in a bank vault? Talk about #InstagramWorthy.
The couches and tables jive with the vibe of the space too.
➤ 21c Museum Hotel in Durham Makes a Lasting First Impression
When you walk into the hotel, it feels like a combination of the era of Fitzgerald and the roaring 1920s and modern day.
The art deco nods on the directory sign and post office letterbox by the elevators are intriguing – 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 from the ground level. We were directed to level two to check in and see the hotel's additional art.
➤ Rooms are Luxurious at Durham's 21c Museum Hotel
The rooms were amazing! The bed was comfortable, and we had a wonderful night's sleep. The wifi was fast and free, the Nespresso machine made high-quality coffee (not the weak coffee excuse you often receive at less wonderful hotels), and the bathroom was spotless.
We even noticed that the grout in the sleek black-tiled shower looked brand new. We were on the 11th floor, so had an added bonus: the VIEW!
Their bath products are available for purchase in their hotel gift shop if you end up loving their bath products as much as we did.
5. You can Enjoy the onsite Restaurant and Bar AT 21C MUSEUM HOTEL IN DURHAM
We had the most delicious drinks and appetizers in their restaurant, Counting House. Would our downtown Durham staycation have been as complete without time at the Counting House? Probably not!
Bloody Marys are my jam, and I have to tell you, having just returned from Spain about two weeks prior to our 21c Museum Hotel trip, they put truly delicious authentic Spanish olives in the cocktail. I was in heaven!
I would have asked for a whole bowl of olives if not for the filling Deviled Eggs and Fried Oysters appetizers in front of us, which we thoroughly enjoyed as well. (I'm a sucker for a tasty deviled egg.)
Their menu changes a bit over time, but overall their food is great, and it's worth ordering something if you're hungry.
21c Counting House Bar
Enjoying cocktails at the bar is always nice too. It's a swanky bar and fun for a pre or post-dinner drink or date night idea. It's popular, so if there isn't a seat in the house, take advantage of ordering a drink to bring to your room or get a bottle of champagne for your hotel room instead.
No matter when you go, The Counting House's inviting couches, plush yellow velvet curtains, and incredible collection of animal-inspired art will certainly have you visiting at some point during your stay.
We appreciated their local touches, too: the tables in the photo below in their lounge area have maps of Durham on them.
6. Atypical Ballroom Bliss at 21c Museum Hotel
21c Museum Hotel in Durham has various meeting and event spaces throughout the hotel. My favorite, however, is the vast celebration space pictured below that can seat up to 250 people. The tall ceilings and gorgeous huge sphere-like light fixtures are inspirational.
It used to be where the bank tellers were. Now, you can celebrate with hundreds of guests 'til late in the evening at a wedding or holiday party under the space's beautiful light fixtures and next to the most spectacular velvet curtains there!
I can envision a bride and groom's wedding ceremony entrance through plush curtains here with their cocktail hour amongst the art exhibits upstairs. This ballroom is the perfect place to dance into the late hours of the night – it feels upscale and luxurious and anything but your typical “hotel ballroom.”
7. The Staff at 21c Museum Hotel Durham is Wonderful
I read a comment in Conde Nast Traveler magazine mentioning that no matter how much the quoted writer traveled, it was the hotel staff who truly made it feel like a welcoming place she'd want to visit again.
If that's the measure of a hotel's superiority, then 21c Museum Hotel in Durham is at the top of its game. From the front desk greeter to the housekeeping staff, I said hello to the mini-bar restocker and to The Counting House waiter and bartender…everyone greeted us with a smile and an upbeat personality.
I can truly say every interaction we had with their team was pleasant, from the moment of booking to the last goodbyes said as we sadly exited their doors.
8. 21c Museum Hotel in Durham has Exquisite Contemporary Art
All the art in the hotel, whether part of a temporary or permanent exhibit, is carefully curated and hand-selected. If you love contemporary art museums throughout the US, you'll definitely appreciate 21C.
Some art is more there to stay – like the screen clouds in their stairway – while other pieces rotate approximately every six months.
So if you were at the hotel in the past but plan to return over six months or even years later, expect some fresh pieces of art to admire.
9. There are Pink Penguins at 21c that Make Your Stay More Photo-worthy and fun
We made some new friends during our stay! They were pink penguins about 3.5 feet tall and were very photogenic.
The hotel has 200 pink penguins that are carefully accounted for at any given moment of any day. Little did we know we would be staying with one in our room – she was a welcomed third wheel. 🙂
We also learned that each of the 21c Hotels across the nation has its own unique color. For example, Louisville, Kentucky, has red penguins. We loved the vibrant pink color of Durham's!
10. Exit Survey Sent by 21c Museum Hotel in Durham
I received an email with a link to a survey requesting my feedback after our stay. Sigh. Usually, Dan and I hate these things…but wait! I clicked the link to complete the survey wanting to pass along the positive review of our stay.
I was so incredibly pleasantly surprised…so much so that we had to include it in our hotel review.
They're tongue and cheek about the entire survey adding requests like rating the following statement on a scale of 1-5, “Love the ambiance: lighting made me look 10 years younger, great tunes and fantastic art.” I was actually a little sad when I got to the end of the survey. It had me smiling from ear to ear.
So what are you waiting for? Look up their availability and reserve a stay! And if you're curious because you love hotel loyalty programs as we do, 21c Museum hotels are part of MGallery Boutique Hotels, a division of Accor Hotels.
Heading to Durham? Also check out:
- RDU Airport: Everything you Need to Know for Smooth Travel in Raleigh + Durham
- 12 Best Photography Spots in Downtown Durham
- The Best Hotels Near the Durham Bulls Stadium