The 21c Museum Hotels St Louis is filled with local art and offers guests free shots of bourbon to sip while they walk around the gallery. Gemma Harris reports
21c Museum Hotels has opened its latest property in the heart of downtown St Louis, amid the iconic city landmarks. The newest addition for the multi-venue contemporary art museum and hospitality brand seamlessly merges travellers and locals to experience exhibitions, community-focused cultural programmes and an array of culinary delights in St Louis.
To honour its historical roots, the group has partnered with architects Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff and Goettel and the interior design expertise of Hufft and Bill Rooney studio to restore the 95-year-old, ten-storey renaissance revival style building that was once home to a YMCA. Restored with a contemporary twist while preserving original features and paying homage to the YMCA’s original purpose as a gathering place. A new lease of life for the property has resulted in a 173-room boutique hotel and more than 1,300 sqm of museum exhibition space featuring site-specific installations and rotating, curated exhibitions. One permanent site-specific installation includes a spherical orb filled with distilled water by Serkan Ozkaya in the hotel’s reception that alters reflections and fills the welcoming space with light.Thanks to the building’s historical features, each room has a distinctive character and finished with exclusive artworks from artists with strong ties to Missouri, including Carmon Colangelo, Collin W Elliot, Brandon Forrest Frederick, Bethanie Irons and La Vispera. Introductory room rates start from US$191.
The two suites also house contemporary artwork alongside views of downtown St Louis through the double-height windows, an entertaining space, living and dining rooms, a kitchenette and an upper-level fitness area with state-of-the-art Peloton equipment. Elsewhere in the property is a 975 sqm athletic and wellness centre complete with the restored historic lap pool, fitness centre and studio, hot tub, steam and sauna and two spa treatment rooms. This Locust Street Athletic and Swim Club is open to hotel guests and as a membership to the local community. The space also includes the Good Press coffee shop, utilising local roasters and growers and serving in the daytime to the guests and community.
For dining, the Idol Wolf restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating and takes an innovative approach to tapas-style dining – chef Matthew Daughaday helms both establishments. As a nod to the bourbon culture, free nightcap pours are available for guests to enjoy in their rooms or while they explore the exhibitions as crowds wind down. The property’s opening is marked by three temporary group exhibitions in the galleries and public spaces on the first and second floors, including “Revival: Digging into Yesterday, Planting Tomorrow”.
The chief curator and museum director, Alice Gray Stites, says: “Featuring over 70 artworks in a wide range of media by 47 artists from all over the world, Revival explores the use of historical sources in contemporary art as a transformative lens to understand the past and the present, and through which to consider the future, as individuals and as a global community in St Louis.”The building’s remaining historic spaces will be transformed into art-filled public meeting and event spaces equipped with AV technology to accommodate museum programming and other events.