Experiencing Great Hotels in Intriguing Places


21c Museum Hotel – Guest Room – Durham NC

Here are photos of my “Luxury King” guest room on the 13th floor.

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With a bright welcome by my personal fuchsia penguin, I walked into an impressive, comfortable guest room with a view. It is a luxurious  appointed space with a plush rug, inviting bed,  and cozy sitting area.

The bed headwall is upholstered with a large reeded gold fabric panel flanked by mirrors and built-in night stands- it sounds gaudy, but is actually quite sophisticated.

The gloss black wall tile and original terrazzo floors in the bathroom, the golden tan drapery, and the warm light grey finishes mimic the art deco heritage and limestone walls of the historic building. The winter white cylindrical bar cabinet has a subtle presence in the room – until you open the curved doors. Inside a bold orange finish reminds you that this is a modern adaptive reuse of the old bank building by a hospitality group insisting on having fun. But then I already knew that by the flock of 4′ tall plastic fuchsia penguins that occupy the building.


21c Museum Hotel – Durham NC

111 N. Corcoran St. Durham NC

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As are most of the 21c properties, this hotel is in a renovated historic building in an urban setting. Originally named the Hill Building, it was designed in 1937 by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, the same architects as the Empire State Building. Deborah Berke Partners have transformed the bank and office tower into the 21cMuseum Hotel Durham. It is the 4th property in their portfolio (with several more in the works according to their website).

I had visited their original 3 properties and actually went to Durham just to stay in this hotel – and to visit Durham which I had not previously visited. I do not have any connection to 21c and they do not know who I am (as far as I know). I just appreciate their concept and  execution of the museum hotel concept into these historic properties – and  my expectations have been exceeded each time.



aloft Durham – (Preview)

New aloft was almost ready to open in Durham NC.

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This appears to be a larger version of the aloft brand than the suburban versions I have stayed in. What a great location with it’s vast front lawn. It is connected to the Durham Performing Arts Center, and adjacent to the American Tobacco Historic District and the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Downtown Durham has 3 great design oriented hotels that have opened just this year, what a coup!

I would like to come back to Durham to explore this aloft, or should I stay at The Durham next time? The 21c Museum Hotel Durham is worth another trip onto itself….decisions decisions…..

The Durham – Durham NC

315 E. Chapel Hill Street, Durham NC

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What a find! I discovered this fascinating mid-century modern building a block from the hotel I was staying at. Come to find out, the former bank building has recently been converted into a boutique hotel.  So new that the restaurant has not opened yet, but the rooftop lounge was hopping the afternoon I stopped by. With an sort of classic Miami Beach aesthetic, this 53-Room hotel will be a hot spot for sure. I will definitely try this gem when my travels take me to Durham.


The Durham Website

InterContinental Montreal – Quebec Canada

360 Saint Antoine Ouest, Montreal Quebec Canada

Visited August 2015

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Amway Grand Plaza Hotel – Grand Rapids MI

Visited March 2015

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Originally the Pantlind Hotel (1913), The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel is on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Historic Hotels of America list. The historic hotel had a 29 story glass tower and reception lobby added in 1981.

The original lobby is spectacular. It is worth just taking some time and sit under one of the chandeliers and just take in the surroundings. The warmth of the lighting and the detail in the finishes is impressive.

The guest room I had in the historic tower was spacious with decor befitting the buildings pedigree. To be honest I requested a room in the new tower to experience the contrast with the historic tower (and I liked the website photos of the new tower guest room better than the historic tower) but none were available.

The staff was very pleasant and professional, and all in all a first class experience. I was there for a business conference and the conference and banquet facilities were equally first class.

Visit the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel Website for photos of the new tower rooms (or the traditional rooms)…and to make a reservation. I recommend it.


Courtyard – Grand Rapids MI

Visited March 2015

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