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21c Museum Hotel Bentonville

  • Hotels
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville
    Photograph: Whitney Neal21c Museum Hotel Bentonville
  2. 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville
    Photograph: Courtesy 21c Museum Hotel

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

When traveling to Bentonville, Arkansas—where one of the main attractions is the world-class museum Crystal Bridges—there’s truly no better place to stay than a hotel where art is the focus. Enter 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville, a 104-room boutique property whose lobby, corridors and outdoor areas all serve as exhibition spaces. You’ll find artwork in a number of mediums, from photography and site-specific installations to sculptures and paintings. Some if it is interactive, altering the way guests behave in the hotel’s common areas.

Don’t be surprised to find yourself idling near the front desk while your significant other spends what feels like a lifetime spinning a wheel to make the sand in a piece of art move. The next day, he’ll be waiting for you to snap photos of the coin-covered Cadillac parked at the entrance of the hotel. Neither of you will be annoyed nor will you be late for dinner reservations because chances are you won’t have made any. Bentonville is laid back like that.
Head upstairs to your room and glass-encased artwork greets you just outside the elevator bank. The numerous vitrines make up “Elevate at 21c,” a temporary exhibition of works by regional artists. Key cards give guests access to the display on their floor but hotel staff is happy to arrange a visit to the works on other guest room floors. You’ll encounter one more piece before you make it to your door, and it happens to be our favorite. 

The Hive at 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville
Photograph: Stephen Ironside

Giant green plastic penguins mysteriously find their way through the property. We saw them down our hallway, in the lobby and, one time, ominously facing a guest room. Created by the artist collective Cracking Art, the Penguins are synonymous with 21c Museum Hotels and were first exhibited in red at 21c Louisville in 2006. Now each property (eight in total) has its own flock; Bentonville’s green reflects the location's wooded landscape and serves as a reminder of environmental sustainability, which is central to Cracking Art.

When we asked a staff member at the front desk whether someone moved the penguins, the person cleverly replied, “Perhaps they move on their own at night? Though I don’t work evenings, so I couldn’t say.” We’ll take that answer and continue wondering about what other mischief these little guys get into.

So, you’ve finally made it to your room and it doesn’t disappoint. Our king room was thoughtfully appointed with a comfortable chair and ottoman set and a built-in booth for meals and room service. It’s worth noting that downstairs restaurant The Hive provides guests with breakfast, lunch and dinner and the plating is equally as impressive as what you expect to find at the restaurant. We were even able to get a locally brewed IPA sent up to our room with dinner.

The bathrooms are spacious and stocked with Malin + Goetz products: peppermint shampoo, cilantro hair conditioner and rum body wash. You’ll walk out of the shower feeling like a luxurious, well-groomed cocktail. There are two plush robes in the closet, a Nespresso machine on the dresser and two water bottles, which are generously replenished daily by the housekeeping staff. The view from our room left something to be desired as our window looked out to the free parking garage. Fortunately, there’s plenty of art to gaze at instead.

Time Out tip: While room service is great, do make time to dine at The Hive. The refined, regionally focused menu packs local ingredients into dishes large and small. The roasted beets with whipped quark, citrus and pistachio as well as the Hive burger with pimento cheese and tomato jam were definite crowd-pleasers.

Virginia Gil
Written by
Virginia Gil


200 NE A St
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