Article by: Luxe Getaways
Known for it’s natural beauty and, of course, as the home of Wal-Mart, Arkansas has emerged as a thriving arts, music and foodie destination in recent years. Southern charm is paired with an adventurous spirt and fresh culture of the growing, youthful population to make Arkansas a surprisingly original vacation destination for those looking to relax amid nature while enjoying all of the modern draws of the ideal weekend getaway. LuxeGetaways’ Eric Althoff journeys through three very different cities (Little Rock, Hot Springs and Bentonville) to provide the ultimate Arkansas travel guide.
Bentonville, in Northwest Arkansas, was once the “far side of nowhere,” to quote the Social Distortion song. But that has all changed thanks to the vision of one Sam Walton, whose five-and-dime shops would expand so much that one day Walmart would become the nation’s largest private employer.
Bentonville has grown up around the megacorporation. One of Sam Walton’s daughters built a world-class art museum here; Geena Davis co-founded an annual film festival that brings in her friends from California; and craft cocktail bars and chic restaurants dot the downtown corridor. Hipsters are moving here from Austin and Memphis with the “secret” officially out, and with them came well-kept mountain biking trails and the outdoors industry to match.
At the center of it the happenings sits the 21c Museum Bentonville hotel, one of several “museum hotels” in the company’s portfolio. The brand is so dedicated to this unique offering in the hotel world that the ground floor offers an ever-changing roster of artworks near and far, from historical to the very present.
Even checking-in, I didn’t feel quite like it was a hotel. The art was visible in every direction. But after being assured this was my hotel, I walked from the main desk toward the elevator, passing intriguing works of art every step of the way.
My room was lengthy, with a foyer area that opened up onto a living area with king-size bed and L-shaped sofa. A writing desk sat at the corner by large windows, which peered down onto one of the numerous plazas that make Bentonville so pedestrian-friendly. The decor was a welcoming shade of white that seemed to only increase the sense of how large the room was. To top it off—and in keeping with the property’s motif—various artworks had been positioned on the walls. It feels like you are sleeping inside a museum.
I was then shown around the 21c’s lobby art collection. The exhibits rotate, and one of the mainstays was a recycled plastic penguin from the Cracking Art Group. I was told that the 21c Museum Bentonville is the only hotel in the chain that was built to suit; all others were repurposed from other constructions.