KY Travel Guide
UPDATE: A rep for 21C Museum Hotel tells us that you don't have to know the hotel founders to book a room but you do have to book early. For example, they are already getting requests for next year and since there are only 90 rooms and a lot of repeat guests, the rooms will go fast. Hurry!
This weekend is the 2012 Kentucky Derby and if you were smart, you booked a hotel room way back in February. But sadly, the hotel that we all really want to stay at for the Derby is never going to be available during the horse race.
We're talking about the arty cool 21C Museum Hotel, a hybrid contemporary art museum/boutique hotel. The hotel is booked this year and presumably, next year and the year after that and the year after that. The reason being is not just because it's a popular spot but also because we've heard during the Derby, friends and family of the hotel's owner get first priority. Aw shucks.
For now, we'll have to live vicariously through these up close and personal snapshots from Business Insider. In the meantime, we'll be scheming of ways to get into the owner's good graces.
[Photo: Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider]
We know, we know. It's not even Valentine's Day and we're already talking about booking hotels for Kentucky Derby but the truth is, even though the big race is not until May 4, it's probably harder to book a last-minute room for the Derby, especially if you want to be in town, than it is to book a last-minute hotel for the Super Bowl. So if you're interested in going, we say book now.
So, what are the hotel options like right now? We hit up Expedia during the Derby weekend (Thursday, May 3-Sunday, May 6) and found a few budgety hotels like Days Inn and Ramada for under $280 a night. You might be saying "Ouch" right now and you might not be thrilled about staying on the outskirts of town but those are actually doable rates for the Derby.
Looking at the four and five-star hotels, we see that they are all sold-out. At least on Expedia. They may have availability if you book with the hotel directly or if you work with a travel agent. (See our tips for Super Bowl.) There are a few three-star hotels left like the Hyatt Place Louisville for $499 and the Holiday Inn Louisville in North Clarksville for $429 a night. The Galt House is available but at $1,500 a night. Yikes!
It may be over in two minutes, but the Kentucky Derby is a weekend-long celebration in Louisville, and this year it's even tougher to find a hotel room in town. According to the local Courier-Journal, rooms have been filling up much more quickly than last year. In fact, most places you'd want to stay are sold out.
Already bought your fancy hat and still want to blow your month's rent at Churchill Downs? You can still find a place to stay, as long as you don't mind budget chains of the Holiday Inn, Best Western variety.
The 21C Museum Hotel is one of the funkiest, quirkiest, art/design hotels in the world but if you can't find a way to get to Louisville, Kentucky, don't worry, there's still a way for you to bring home a piece of the hotel's sensibility--through its newly launched Online Shop.
Items from the hotel like scented candles from Malin + Goetz, jewelry from local designer Elva Fields, chocolates from TCHO and 21c-branded items like water bottles ($10), umbrellas ($30), t-shirts ($21, heh) and even mint julep cups ($48.)
And for those still lusting after hotel bathrobes, the 21c Museum Hotel robe starts at an affordable $72. However, our favorite item is the 6 1/2" tallred ceramic penguin that you also see placed at various parts of the hotel but in larger sizes. Waaay better than a t-shirt.
While you'll likely be spending Black Friday elbowing people at Target for $3 appliances, you Kentucky Derby fans will want to do some hotel shopping before braving the crowds. The Galt House Hotel in Louisville, the official hotel of the Kentucky Derby, will offer a one-day-only sale on November 27 from 1:36 a.m.—to commemorate the 136th running of the race—until 11:50 p.m., EST.
Yes, the May 1 derby is far away, but the hotel's early specials will save you 700 smackers. It's not atypical to shell out more than a couple grand for a room during the derby, which makes it worth it to plan ahead. Plus, you can use the savings on some good betting at the tracks.
This could be a Killer View, we suppose, depending on how you look at it. This is the view from the urinals in the public men's room at 21C Museum Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. And those are real people. And they could be you!
Alright, we get it. 21C is an art in a hotel that dually functions as a public art museum but its "gender-specific latent exhibitionist fetish features" within the lobby bathrooms are a topic we've discussed before, and now that we're seeing a real (read: non-PR) shot of the view from in the little boys' room, we're not so sure we're okay with this.
Allow is to explain what's going on here:
The men's restroom has a two-way mirror that allows users of a long urinal to contemplate passers-by outside the restroom. Both the men's and women's restrooms have tiny LCD screens displaying a multitude of different, open eyes in the mirror above the sink area that make washing up or primping a communal affair.
Dudes peeing in urinals while looking at us. Does that not make you a wee bit uncomfortable? Think about it. Really.
Anyway, rooms here start around $185 if you're interested in booking your own private bathroom without these exhibitionist features.
Whether you're headed to the Kentucky Derby tomorrow to actually watch the races or just to don a silly hat and stalk Paris Hilton, you'll be happy to know that there are hotel rooms open. But they will cost you a pretty penny.
For instance the Embassy Suites is charging $450 a night. Granted, it's a suite and you can fit four friends in there easily but still, are people really going to shell out that much for the Derby? Similarly, the Hilton Garden Inn is now charging $579 a night. And The Brown Hotel is asking for $1,333 a night. Um. Ok. If you say so.
Your best bet for affordable Derby hotels continues to be budget brands outside the city center. Louisville doesn't have that much of a boutique hotel scene to begin with and the existing rooms have been sold-out for a long time.
If you're not celebrating the Derby in New York, then we say just wear a crazy hat from the flea market, make your own mint julep and plop yourself down on the couch to watch the races instead.
Cubicle Dreamin' is a feature in which we ask the hotel mavens to take some time out of their busy work day, surf the Internet, and tell us what hotel they wish they could beam themselves to right that very second--all on the slave driving companies dime, of course. Oh, like these people aren't surfing aimlessly anyway--at least now their purposeless clicking will be cobbled together into useful hotel stories--we hope. Have a destination hotel you are just dying to leave your cube for? Send the story our way.
In this episode, Hotel Maven Katie K visits Kentucky...in her mind. Enjoy.
Lately I’ve been in a Great-Gatsby-decadence-craving sort of mood (as recessionary escape?). So dress me in my nattiest frock and hand me a bourbon tumbler, because I’m headed to the 1905-built Seelbach Hilton in Louisville, Kentucky, blueblood haunt and one-time writing muse to F. Scott Fitzgerald (penned into immortality as his backdrop for Tom and Daisy Buchanan's nuptials).
The Kentucky Derby will be held this year on Saturday, May 2 and it's sure to be less glitzy than other years thanks to the economy and well, the loss of Anna Nicole Smith. Her absence is still felt two years later. Oh well, there's always Heidi Montag or Lindsay Lohan to step in.
But despite these tragedies, hotel room rates are not coming down. Even though, hotels are moaning about the loss of business and empty rooms for Derby weekend, you will be hard-pressed to find any mildly respectable hotel brand that is not going for less than $200. In fact, most room rates are averaging about $350.
We checked rates on our own Hotel Rates Search Engine and found the Hyatt Place Louisville for $449 a night. The Hilton Garden Inn was $579 a night and the Hyatt Regency Louisville was $1,130 a night. The uber-cool 21C Museum Hotel was sold-out.
These rates turn us off entirely and we can only imagine that rich folk are spending that much money for a Derby hotel room. Perhaps as the weekend gets closer and hotels realize they aren't selling out will the rates come down. But we won't bet (har, har) on it.
Just in time for the arrival of thousands of Ryder Cup attendees, Louisville, Ky., lost power Sunday. About 75% of the city lost electricity --including yours truly.
We were without news until we could get to civilization Monday (the office) where we learned the power company estimates a 10-14 day period with no power. That's no internet, no TV, no air conditioning, no lights, no appliances, zilch. What's a high-maintenance girl who dislikes showering by candlelight to do? Move into a hotel.
There are all those pesky tourists in town, and not a hotel room to be found. On Sunday night a few hotels offered price breaks to the in-the-dark locals but when the high-spending golf fans hit Louisville that was all over.
The few hotels left with rooms available have ratcheted up the rates to take advantage of the big event, never mind the quarter million people without power. We'll stay in the dark, thank you, before we pay almost 200 bucks a night for the luxury of light at the Howard Johnson Express Airport.
Let's just hope the power comes back on before the rooms open back up.
[Photo: Courier Journal]
Crazy/Sexy/Cool Art Hotel in Louisville
$129 a night
The21C Museum Hotel is one of the funkiest hotels we know of in the U.S. It's both a modern boutique hotel and a contemporary art museum with somewhat scary things on display. But it also has clean bathrooms. Tablet Hotels is offering $129 room rates at the hotel plus a complimentary sweet at check-in from now until August 31st.
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Add another to the list of haunted hotels: A former Ford employee purchased the abandoned, vandalized 30 acres of Waverly Hills Sanatorium in south Louisville for $225,000 in 2001, and is now determined to turn the spooky property into a first-class hotel complete with spa and business center.
Currently this gutted old hospital for tuberculosis patients, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, hosts paranormal camp-outs for $100-a-head and was the subject of a six-hour feature on the Sci Fi Channel. Even wikipedia-ing this place will give you the heebie-jeebies. So will night-vision goggles and thermal sensors be part of the mini bar?