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Fit for a queen: Kentucky hotel hopes 'The Queen's Gambit'-themed room drums up bookings

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Posted at 4:33 PM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-08 16:44:00-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. — It is the most-watched scripted limited series ever on Netflix, and now you have a chance to walk right into the world of "The Queen's Gambit."

The fictional show about a chess prodigy is partially based in Lexington, so 21c Museum Hotel and VisitLEX have teamed up to create a hotel room fit for Beth Harmon herself. Chess set included.

From the custom wallpaper to a vintage Herald-Leader newspaper, and even chess pieces dripping from the ceiling, there is no other hotel room in the world quite like this one.

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"That was the original intent from the design phase to execution in the room, it was really to transport the guest into the experience that is depicted in the show, " said Brian Pulley director of sales and marketing at 21c.

Chances are, you are one of the tens of millions who have streamed Netflix's hit show The Queen's Gambit. With the show being partially set in Lexington, Gathan Borden, of VisitLEX, knew they had to bring that magic home.

Borden said, "We're always trying to follow culture, that's how you market a destination."

It is no secret; it has been a bad time for tourism and hotels. Since the beginning of COVID, Borden says revenue is down 100-million dollars across the county, so they looked at the show's success as an opening of their own.

"As we started talking more and more about it and with hotel revenues being down and trying to find ways to inspire people to travel to Lexington again, we came up with an idea to just create a room, " Borden said.

The new "Harmon Room" on the 11th floor of 21c, went from concept to reality in just ten days. Local artists and creators contributed their expertise and even some of their own period-specific furniture to the room. In another nod to the show, those who stay in the room will even leave with their own "Lexington Liquors" tote bag.

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Borden said, "Black Swan Books had the books, Scout antique shop had some of the antique pieces."

"We all just kind of latched on to this and created this awesome experience for our guests," added Pulley.

In a time that's been grueling to work in hotels, this project is breathing new possibilities into the walls of the historic 21c building and, they hope, new life into the local industry.

"This comes at a time when we really need a boost not only for the destination but also for our hotel partners, so we're hoping that this room not only inspires people to come to visit but also inspires some of our other hotel partners to think outside the box," Borden explained.

The room is available to book now through 21c's website.

Even if you don't stay in the room, you can access part of the experience through "The Queen's Gambit Guide to Lexington." The guide will walk you through reference points from the Netflix series, like the Ben Snyder Department Store, and what stands in its place today.

This story was first published by Claire Crouch at WLEX in Lexington, Kentucky.