I’m always on the lookout for unique experiences — especially anything art-related. I had heard about 21c Museum Hotels, the award-winning boutique hotel chain that focused on contemporary art and great food, so I was excited to have the opportunity to check out their location in Bentonville, Arkansas. Some of you might be aware that Bentonville is the headquarters to the retail giant Walmart, but not many know that it is also the home of the Crystal Bridges Art Museum. Coming from an art background, I have always wanted to plan a visit there. It seemed like the ideal weekend getaway since it’s less than a four-hour drive from Oklahoma City, so my husband and I decided to set off on a little road trip to check it all out.
Outfit Details // Dress — Ella Moss Astra Diamond Tiered Dress c/o // Jacket — BB Dakota Ariana Drape Front Jacket c/o Shopbop // Heels — Stuart Weitzman Nudist Sandals (similar here) // Bag — Chanel, similar Rebecca Minkoff Quilted Mini Affair Bag // Bracelet — Vita Fede Titan Bracelet
This hotel truly exceeded our expectations. It’s located within walking distance of both Bentonville’s charming town square and the Crystal Bridges Museum. Not only is it in a great location, but the hotel is by itself a fully functioning art museum. The building was designed in such a way to mimic an art gallery while furnishing the needs of its guests as any hotel would. They invite these guests, along with the public, to enjoy their collection of constantly updated art pieces 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This museum never sleeps!
Speaking of sleep, I was looking forward to seeing where we would be snoozing. Upon arriving to our room the first thing I noticed were the artistic touches that don’t just end in the hotel’s public areas. All the guest rooms showcase interesting art pieces as well. For example, our room featured original art pieces, along with a doorstop roller skate, and pillows that were decorated with photos of animals from the owner’s farm in Kentucky. Included amenities such as a Nespresso machine, plush robes, and Malin + Goetz bath products are a nice touch too.
The next morning I ordered pancakes in bed. While room service food can sometimes be uninspired, that wasn’t the case here. The food comes direct from Chef Matthew McClure’s restaurant The Hive. It’s known for refined country gastronomic delights that pay homage to the south, like shrimp and grits and Chef McClure’s famous Pimento Cheese. I of course had both and they were delicious!
We began our first full day there admiring the many amazing works of art in the hotel. My favorite piece being Serkan Ozkaya’s A Sudden Gust of Wind. It is made up of 400 metal sheets crafted to resemble pieces of paper blowing in the wind. Even though the exhibit is stationary, it really felt like it was flying past me!
Later we explored the Crystal Bridges Museum (where I got in trouble) followed by a relaxing stroll around the town square. The downtown area is home to the Walmart Museum, which also features a cute soda fountain, along with several charming shops and restaurants. My favorite spots included the women’s fashion boutique Lola, the Onyx Coffee Lab where I had delicious coffee and macarons, and Pressroom with its spectacular salt & pepper squid. It was the best squid I’ve ever had, and I don’t even like squid.
Probably the most unusual aspect of our weekend at 21c had to be the sight of all the penguins. One thing you may not know about me is that my favorite animal is the penguin. My grandfather and I were the “penguins” of the family. Ever since I was in kindergarten, we would collect and give each other anything with a penguin on it. With his recent passing, seeing all these penguins in the hotel flooded me with so many emotions. They still fill me with happiness, though. It’s impossible not to be happy when you see these bright green birds. They travel all over the hotel and you are free to move them as you please. According to the manager, the penguins ARE freely migrating birds.
So we did what anyone would do: We had a penguin party. They appeared everywhere in our room, from drinking champagne to taking a shower. You never knew where one would turn up! Above you can see the penguin shenanigans and some of the art around the hotel.