Reality, fantasy and throwback design combine in immersive experience inspired by hit Netflix series
LEXINGTON, KY – Lexington, Ky., is known around the world for the sport of kings, horse racing. It is, after all, the Horse Capital of the World. But thanks to a 1983 novel by local author Walter Tevis—and an assist from a hit Netflix series—it’s also gaining notoriety for the sport of queens...and knights...and pawns.
Anyone who’s watched The Queen’s Gambit (all 62 million households and counting) knows that it largely takes place in Lexington. And while it may not have been filmed there, there’s plenty of real places featured. In an effort to capitalize on Lexington’s starring role in Netflix’s most-watched scripted limited series ever, local tourism boosters VisitLEX and creative agency CORNETT have partnered up with 21c Museum Hotel, interior designer Isabel Ladd, and preservationist Lucy Jones to bring to life a meticulously designed boutique hotel room inspired by the show: The Harmon Room at 21c.
“The Queen’s Gambit put a spotlight on Lexington and piqued people’s interest in our community at a time when we could really use a boost,” said VisitLEX VP of Marketing Gathan Borden. “The Harmon Room and all of the activities we have planned around it are our way of rolling out the red carpet for visitors and another fun example of the way we use creativity to market our incredible city.”
Named in honor of Beth Harmon, the troubled chess prodigy heroine of The Queen’s Gambit, The Harmon Room is a time capsule of American mid-century modern design replete with vintage accessories, nods to the show’s most memorable moments and characters, and period furniture from private collectors and local antique shop Scout. Custom wallpaper in a pattern dubbed “The Knight’s Gambit” was designed for the project by Alex K Mason of Ferrick Mason Inc. And guests are treated to complimentary items like reproductions of the “Lex Liquors'' tote bags seen on the show. There’s even copies of Chess Review magazine and rare chess books on loan from local retailer Black Swan Books placed around the room as if Beth Harmon herself were staying for the night.
Of course, no room inspired by The Queen’s Gambit would be complete without an actual chess set for its occupants to hone their skills. Available for purchase at the Lexington Visitors Center while supplies last, Lexington nonprofit Iron Bridge Woodshop produced a limited run of handmade walnut-and-maple chess boards for guests of The Harmon Room to enjoy during their stay.
“I have been collecting furniture from that era for the last three decades,” said Lucy Jones, one of The Harmon Room’s designers. “It is pure joy to bring to life the rich scenes from the page and screen.”
Designer Isabel Ladd was equally enthused to join the project.
“When I watched The Queen's Gambit,” said Ladd, “I would stop and rewind just mesmerized with all the color and pattern play.”
The Harmon Room’s Instagram-worthy centerpiece is an artistic recreation of Beth Harmon’s drug-induced hallucinations, a larger-than-life chessboard installation suspended from the ceiling above the bed in an arrangement inspired by Harmon’s ultimate match with Russian grandmaster Vasily Borgov.
For fans of The Queen’s Gambit planning a trip to Lexington, whether they choose to stay in The Harmon Room or not, VisitLEX has created a fun Queen’s Gambit Tour that includes landmarks and attractions from the show, as well as unique experiences that visitors are sure to enjoy. Paired with can’t-miss Lexington adventures like a tour of picturesque horse farms and some of the region’s world-class bourbon distilleries, the Queen’s Gambit Tour is a guaranteed good time in the Bluegrass.
Top it all off with a Gibson at Lockbox, the former bank vault turned modern bar/restaurant inside 21c, and that’s checkmate on the winter blues.
The Harmon Room’s rate varies, so guests are encouraged to visit 21cmuseumhotels.com/offer/the-harmon-room for the most up-to-date information on pricing and availability.
The Harmon Room is located at 21c Museum Hotel, 167 West Main Street, Lexington, KY 40507.
Creative assets, including high-res photos and video of The Harmon Room, are available for use HERE.
For more information, please contact VisitLEX VP of Marketing Gathan Borden at (502) 727-4214 or VisitLEX Director of Communications Niki Heichelbech Goldey at (859) 797-0646.
Mary Quinn Ramer, President, VisitLEX
Gathan D. Borden, Vice President, Marketing, VisitLEX
Niki Heichelbech-Goldey, Director of Communications, VisitLEX
Leslie Miller VP, Director of Brand Management, CORNETT
Danielle Havrilesko, Senior Account Planner, CORNETT
Bailey Klutts, Assistant Account Planner, CORNETT
Whit Hiler, Executive Creative Director, CORNETT
Dave Jones, Art Director, CORNETT
John Herskind, Art Director/Videographer, CORNETT
Coleman Larkin, Copywriter, CORNETT
Kathy Martinolich, Senior Copywriter, CORNETT
Isabel Ladd, Interior Designer, Isabel Ladd Interiors
Lucy Jones, Preservationist, Harry Dean Stanton Festival
Alex K Mason, Wallpaper Design, Ferrick Mason Inc.
Amani Nichae, Photographer, Honeysage Photo Co.
Bob Banker, Wallpaper Installer
Monster Color, Chess Board & Chess Piece Ceiling Installation