Hotel Group: 21c Museum Hotels
Hotel Status: No Loyalty Program
Booking Type: Points Booking
Room Type: Luxury King
Date of Stay: February 2018
The 21c hotel opened its doors in November of 2012 as the second addition in the growing 21c Museum Hotel chain. They currently operate seven different hotels with one coming soon to Kansas City. This hotel occupies what was once the Metropole Hotel, originally built in 1912 as a 10-storey building in the heart of downtown Cincinnati. In 1924, the owners added a mezzanine and an 11th-floor penthouse to the building. In 1971, the hotel was converted into one-bedroom low-income housing with restaurant space on the first floor. In 2009, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. That’s when 21c announced plans to renovate and turn the property back into one of the best hotels in the Queen City. Here’s a bit of history on 21c and 21c Cincinnati.
The hotel offers guests 156 rooms with five different suite types, a restaurant and bar named Metropole, led by chef Jared Bennet, a seasonal rooftop terrace with fantastic views of downtown Cincinnati, a full-service spa, fitness center, business center, overnight valet parking costing $38, cruising bicycles on a first-come, first-serve basis, and, of course, a 24/7 free art museum with rotating themes. They also have an ATM on premises.
This is one of five hotels in Cincinnati that have earned a AAA Four Diamond rating.
I booked a Luxury King room for 11,721 Chase Ultimate Reward Points. If I had paid cash, the price would have been $146.51. I’ve been through this many times in old hotel reviews, but I want to reiterate that I don’t recommend using your Chase points for a booking like this. There are far better ways to get more value from your points than just 1.25 cents per point.
I checked in at 12:30pm with no intention of going to the room. For one, I didn’t expect they would have a room ready by then. Secondly, I had brunch plans in OTR with friends who were arriving soon to pick me up. The receptionist was polite and welcoming. She did say they had a room ready on a lower floor than mine, but I stayed with my original room on the ninth floor. Having a good view is one of the things I value most in a hotel room. I left my two bags at the desk, and she didn’t give me any bag tags, but insisted my luggage would be in the room when I arrived.
Luxury King rooms are the smallest room type they have, ranging from 227-347 sq ft. I had room 907, which was to the right off the elevators and down the hall. The room was simply designed with a king bed, a lounge chair and ottoman, and work desk station. I always try to bring you all great photos, but these are not my best. The lighting was bad, so I apologize, but you get the overall idea.
The Nespresso machine, mini-bar, and snacks were located in the work desk station along with the 42in TV. They had a wide range of TV channels, including Golf Channel, and I appreciate that they have Nespresso coffee machines in the room but their mini-bar prices are too high. I’m sure they’ll say something like, “they are in line with other hotels in the area,” but why not be a leader in the industry instead of following what other hotels are doing? $5 for a 12oz can of soda is absurd for this type of hotel. Just for reference, Hotel Covington, which is less than 10 minutes away, charges $2.50 for the same soda.
The bed had a soft mattress with great plush pillows, but the bedding was very thin. It felt like I was sleeping with only a sheet. Both nightstands had easy access to outlets attached to the lamps.
The views from the room were pretty good overlooking the Aronoff Center for the Arts. I’m sure they have rooms with better views and some with worse.
The in-room Wi-Fi was good, with solid download speeds.
The bathroom had a glass-enclosed walk-in shower with custom tile done by local Rookwood Pottery Company. On some of the tile, you can see different body parts, including an eye, nose, lips, ear, and what I think was a breast. The water had good pressure and quick hot water, but the stream from the shower head was very small. I’m a big fan of 21c’s bathrobes. These were the same I had when I stayed at the 21c Lexington.
The toiletries are done by Malin+Goetz. I’ve heard some people say they don’t like them but I think they’re great. I’m always happy to see them in bathrooms. The Andis Ceramic ionic hairdryer was disappointing though. This is probably the most widely used hairdryer in the hotel industry, or at least in midscale hotels. I would like to see them offer something better with a concentrator attachment.
The fitness room is one level below the lobby. It’s a spacious area with seven cardio pieces and three weight machines with free weights. Oddly enough, I found no information about the fitness center on their website, only that they have one and it’s open 24 hours a day.
They have several different themes going on in the museum, including The Future is Female and some other works by Emily Hanako Momohara. Here is a sample of some of the art that is displayed around the hotel. Included in these photos is a piece displaying a half-naked woman, so everyone cover your eyes.
One of my favorites was the floor leading to the restrooms in the lobby. It would change when someone stepped on it.
This is one reason why I love 21c Museum Hotels. I love that they bring art and societal issues out in the open. They are not afraid to bring provocative issues to their hotels.
The spa is on the 10th floor. From there you go up a flight of stairs to reach the reception area. I was fortunate enough to get a tour while no one was in there. They have two single-treatment rooms and one couples room. Each room has a shower with a sun light in it, while the couple’s room comes with a deep soaking tub as well. I think she did mention that the floors are heated in all rooms.
Metropole is an award-winning restaurant, lounge, and bar led by executive chef Jared Bennet. The menu focuses on locally sourced dishes cooked in their custom built wood-burning fireplace.
We had a few cocktails here early in the day and later that evening I ended up having a few small plates. Before I get into the food and drink I want to say the service was poor both times I was there that day. The young lady who was running the bar was unfriendly, slow, and had a very matter-of-fact attitude. I hope she was just having a bad day because she came off as rude and unpleasant. Now back to the food and drink. I had a Madame Butterfly’s Pet Unicorn, which is a champagne cocktail made with gin and butterfly pea flower. The two starters I had were the flank steak tartare and pickled shrimp with cara cara orange, crispy kale, pomegranate, and pickled garlic scapes. Both the drink and the food were fantastic. I hope this was just an off day for the bartender because the food is delicious. It’s a place worth visiting.
The seasonal Cocktail Terrace on the roof was closed during my visit, but Nicole (manager) did give me a tour, so I could get a few photos. I have to say this is one of the better rooftop lounges in Cincinnati I’ve been to. The views of downtown were gorgeous at night.
I’ll give service a 7.8/10. Before I get into what needs improving, I want to point out the valet guys were fantastic. They opened the door for me every time I came and went from the hotel and were polite every time. Manager Nicole and these guys were a highlight of the property. Now for what wasn’t a highlight, the bartender, who really brought the score way down. Service also missed when I left my bags at the front desk and the receptionist insisted my bags would be in the room when I returned. They were not. I was exhausted by the time I reached my room at around 7pm. When I called for my bags to be brought up, no one had any idea which bags were mine, so I had to go back down to the lobby and pick my bags out of the storage room. I literally could have picked any bag I wanted. The manager on duty, Nicole, was very apologetic about the situation and sent me a coupon for two cocktails at the bar. Personally, I would rather just have my bags in the room like they were supposed to be, instead of two more cocktails, but I appreciate her gesture to try to make it right. Moral of the story, always get a bag tag when you leave your belongings with hotel staff.
With that said, I still think there is a lot of upside to this property. They are close to being a great property if they just make a few small changes and tighten up on service. I would have no problem recommending this hotel to anyone looking to staying in downtown Cincinnati.
Have you stayed here, what are your thoughts?