21c Museum Hotel
Louisville’s newly opened 21c ranks as a bona fide cultural institution in the making, not just a hotel with art. Designed by New York architect Deborah Berke, the 91-room property houses a $10 million collection of paintings, sculptures, photos, and video installations by living artists (hence the hotel’s name, a reference to the 21st century). Most of the art comes from the personal collection of owner and philanthropist Steve Wilson and his wife, Laura Lee Brown. (Upon check-in, guests receive iPods preloaded with customized music or a narrated tour of the collection.) Occupying five 19th-century brick buildings, 21c showcases Berke’s spare-but-polished industrial style of exposed-brick walls and bead-board ceilings. Old poplar floorboards were turned into bar fronts, and recycled carpet backing became the bar’s floor.