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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Check Out Cincinnati’s New Cool

Long known for its industrial past, the city is getting new life from craft breweries, bold new restaurants, and a major neighborhood transformed.

1. Where to Stay

Eye-catching art enlivens public and private spaces at the 21c Museum Hotel.  

Uncover oddities at every turn inside the 21c Museum Hotel (from $259). Before heading upstairs, explore the lobby, which functions as a two-floor art gallery, filled with Surrealist sculptures by international artists and playful interactive displays (watch out for the light installation guarding the entrance to the restrooms). The bold exhibits contrast with coolly minimalist, airy rooms with pocket-spring mattresses and nightshades depicting 19th-century daguerrotypes of the Cincinnati waterfront. Relax at the end of the day with a Rub-a-dub-dub Ritual foot bath and massage ($220) in the intimate three-room spa; then head to the tenth-floor cocktail terrace to sip a Pilsner- and grapefruit-shrub-infused Slim Shandy ($7) while overlooking the surrounding hills.

Ascend the grand marble staircase at The Cincinnatian (from $219), which was designed to accommodate the wide skirts of its fashionable 19th-century female guests. While the vibe here is still throwback elegant, all of the rooms recently completed a top-to-toe refresh, with bright tones of silver and red, gleaming tile floors, and luxe extras like flat-screen TVs in the bathrooms. Old-school service remains the hotel’s M.O., whether it’s the tuxedoed bartender pouring out a $15 glass of single-malt Scotch at the Cricket Lounge (a daily happy hour hawks $3 beers, too) or the prim front-desk agent presenting your weighted brass room key.

Tuck in for the night at one of the city's stylish Airbnb rentals, like this peaceful sanctum ($115/night), nine minutes from downtown. It’s housed in a Colonial revival church built in 1901, though the interior now has a polished yet homey feel, thanks to a 2004 update by the owner: The main living room occupies the church’s original nave, though in place of saint statues and choir pews, you’ll find chandeliers, leather sofas, flat-screen TVs, and a pool table. Closer to downtown, this contemporary loft ($130/night) is industrial-chic with soaring ceilings, exposed-brick walls, a tiny but colorful kitchen, comfy leather couches, and plenty of natural light to nourish the house plants scattered throughout the living room.

Published on Oct 10, 2014 as a web exclusive.