Until recently, most people who visited Bentonville, Arkansas, came on business with the Walmart empire, which is headquartered there. Since the 2011 opening of the Moshe Safdie-designed Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, however, tourism has flourished. And so the growing 21c Museum Hotels chain has chosen this sleepy Ozarks town for its third location in a light-filled new building designed by Deborah Berke Partners.
21c's mission is to boost rejuvenating city centres with sophisticated boutique hotels that double as galleries for contemporary art. In Bentonville, video art by Bill Viola, Abbas Kiarostami and Mark Bradford plays on in-room televisions; green plastic penguins, by Cracking Art Group, are liable to surprise you in the elevator or on the roof. Exhibitions are free to all, and open 24 hours.
At the Hive restaurant, chef Matthew McClure pays tribute to what he terms the High South, with ingredients such as hickory-smoked hams and sorghum sausage. Future 21c developments are currently underway in Lexington, Kentucky and Durham, North Carolina.