Lexington, Kentucky is best known as the horse capital of the world. It’s where the winningest thoroughbred racehorses are born and bred, and the majestic stallion is far and away the quintessential symbol of the city. A downtown hotel in the former Fayette National Bank building, however, is home to a mascot of a very different species—the penguin.
On my recent visit, I noticed several blue penguin sculptures created by Cracking Art Group near the front desk, next to my table at the on-site restaurant, Lockbox, and even waiting for me in my room. The exhibition is just one of seven permanent works of contemporary art on view, and more pieces rotate through hotel’s gallery spaces every nine months.
The Lexington iteration of this modern art gallery meets hotel is one of six 21c properties scattered throughout the south and midwest. In cities like Bentonville, Arkansas and Oklahoma City, the concept of a luxury hotel coupled as a cultural destination meets multiple needs.
Here, General Manager Andrew Carter filled us in on the best room available in Lexington.
The most requested room:
I think our 14th floor is probably the best floor and often the most requested.
What makes it so special?
The heated floors in the bathroom. Also the in-room art done by Laura Lee Brown, who is one of our founders. We have six different forms of in-room art in Lexington that are scattered throughout the building. All the rooms are designed by Deborah Berke Partners and that kind of brings its own design element to all of the 21c properties which makes it special.
Which room is your personal favorite?
I’m going to say 1402. It’s a corner king room, two walls are made of arched windows and in the bathroom is an area that has the arched windows as well. It gets great sunlight and great views. It has a lot of character. 15 is the top floor but it doesn’t have those arched windows.
Have you had any celebrity guests?
We have. I’m not sure I can mention them, but being in horse country with Keeneland being one of the most reputable race tracks with a lot of history to it, you can imagine we get a lot of horse folks and they are often celebrities.
There is a creek called Town Branch running through downtown underground, and this building is actually on top of it. Another cool thing is that the private dining room in the hotel restaurant was converted from the old vault. We have six permanent art installations and we have other spaces that are going to be the rotating every nine months. They’re all living artists curated out of our Louisville office by Alice Gray Stites.