Friday night, I met up with some friends from university to check out the brand-new 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati. It’s one of the hot spots in town and Elissa had suggested we meet up for dinner and drinks at Metropole, the hotel’s restaurant. I’m so glad we went. Because if I had to describe this place in one word, it would be cool.
The 21c describes itself as a “boutique hotel, contemporary art museum and cultural civic center.” But it’s all that and more too. Because this is a contemporary art museum that’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for free. Plus, there’s a spa, restaurant and bar and lots of places where you can hang out by the art (even beanbag chairs). Now do you see what I mean about this place being cool?
Just now, the museum is exhibiting Illuminati, a collection of new media projects that are “designed to engage viewers with art, light, space and each other.” I was fascinated by Brian Knep’s Healing Tiles, a projected software animation that when you walk on it, reforms itself into a new shape. The tiles are on the way to the toilets, so that meant that someone was always checking out the installation. So this place has a clever sense of humor too.
Adding to the fun, there are penguins. Yellow penguins to be exact. They are in the restaurant, the elevator and in the hallways. All the waiters wore yellow penguin pins. One of them sat at our table with us. And you can buy them in the gift shop. I have to say that I kind of wanted to take one home.
I love the concept of mixing art with a restaurant and hotel. A few years back, I stayed at The Olsen, Art Museum Hotel in Melbourne and got a kick out of it too. If you’re in Cincinnati, this place is worth checking out. Or you can also go to the original 21c in Louisville.
As for the restaurant, it was packed. To start, we tried the Metropole gin and tonic. It was so good that we had two. And while the menu is not huge, it has interesting choices. I had the hamburger and it was the best I’ve eaten in a long time.
Good friends, good food, good drinks, good art. It all added up to a great evening.