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  • Writer's pictureTamara Schneider

Stay Aloft in Louisville

Updated: Sep 11, 2019

Louisville is the largest city in Kentucky which means it has a ton of fun stuff going on all the time! It’s a great destination for a staycation, which is exactly what Leigh and I had last weekend. We were invited to come and stay at the amazing Aloft Hotel located on West Main Street, so we made the most out of our 48 hours in the ‘Ville by taking in all that the downtown area has to offer. The fact that we were staying right where all the action is meant we didn’t have to move our car, and this is just the beginning of the benefits of booking a room at this gem of a hotel.

Upon arrival, we gladly turned the keys over to the valet and said, “We won’t be needing the car again for the remainder of our stay”. We headed into the lobby and were greeted by a very friendly representative. The whole look and feel of the Aloft is modern with clean lines and Ikea-inspired furniture clustered into inviting seating arrangements. There is a fireplace, pool table, and huge bar off to the right. On the left is an eating/kitchen area that contains food and sundries available for purchase. We were excited to take it all in while we waited for our room key. Coming and going through the door we saw several people with their dogs. Guess what? Aloft is pet friendly! They even have dog biscuits in a jar on the check-in desk. After Katie gave us our keys, we peppered her with questions on where to go, where to eat, and the usual barrage of questions out of towners like to ask. She was very adept at giving us her top picks and she did so with a smile on her face and didn’t once act like she had answered those very same questions a thousand times before. That’s good customer service!

The rooms at Aloft echo the feel of the lobby of the hotel with beautiful blue, green and gray tones. The large bathroom was stocked with Bliss bath products; such a nice touch. A coffee maker and a bottle of water were also at the ready, and you didn’t have to pay mini-bar fees! The bedding was exquisite. Sumptuous sheets and fluffy pillows made us want to dive right in and take a nap, but the city was waiting, so we dropped our stuff and hit the door to explore downtown.

Downtown Louisville is packed with restaurants, so you really can’t go wrong in choosing one. The hard part is the choosing. One place that we had been recommended was Proof on Main, located in the 21C Hotel just a few blocks from Aloft. After booking a table on our Open Table app, we headed down the sidewalk, feeling the Friday night energy of the city. The skies, however, looked like they were going to open up at any moment, and since we didn’t have an umbrella, we thought we should probably eat at the next closest dining establishment, which just happened to be Milkwood. This place had been recommended to us, but unfortunately when we tried to make a reservation online, it said they were full. We took a shot anyway, and lo and behold, they were able to accommodate us! Score! This is the description on their website: Milkwood=Southern Inspiration + Asian Flavors + Bourbon Cocktails. How can you say no to that? It sounded very interesting and lived up to the hype. The wings and ramen, along with a side of broccoli, was very satisfying. So flavorful and tasty! How lucky were we that it almost rained on us? It never did, so we left Milkwood and sauntered on down the sidewalk as we gazed at the beautiful architecture and storefronts all along Main Street.

I absolutely love a progressive dinner. Don’t you? For those of you who aren’t aware of this type of dining experience, a group of people start with one course at one location, the second at another, and dessert at another. Usually it’s done at different people’s homes, but I love to take this idea to a city as a way of trying several different restaurants all on the same evening. After finishing our main entrée at Milkwood, we walked on down to Proof on Main for dessert. Proof on Main, as I stated above, is located inside the 21C Hotel. If you aren’t familiar with this boutique chain of hotels, you’re in for a real treat as they are museum hotels and the one in Louisville is the original. They are very colorful, all with their own revolving art galleries, and this is where you will find lots of cool people. Even though it was Friday, we were fortunate to get a table in the bar, and from there we explored their drink and dessert menu. All of the offerings were tantalizing, but we settled on the strawberry cream puff. I mean, clouds of whipped cream nestled between two flaky biscuits, cream cheese frosting, lavender whip, fresh berries and pistachios, what’s not to love? After dessert, we rolled ourselves out of there and walked around their art gallery, which is FREE, by the way. It’s fun to walk through an art gallery with a friend, each of you trying to decide what it is that you’re looking at and the profound meaning, or not so profound meaning, behind it. It’s a hoot!

The night was still young, so afterwards, we decided to check out a rooftop bar that had been suggested to us called 8Up. Clever name, huh? It’s on the 8th floor of the Hilton Garden Inn on West Chestnut Street. Since we were wearing heels, we opted for a fast Uber from Proof on Main that delivered us safely there and only for about $5. This place offers panoramic views of the city, especially beautiful at night with everything lit up. The libations were plentiful, and they had a DJ spinning some Hip Hop. There was a diverse crowd of people talking and lounging on the plentiful seating outside and in, and it truly was the perfect summer evening. We felt very much like we were in New York, only without the New York prices. Unfortunately, I turn into a pumpkin about 11:00, so we left there via Uber and returned to Aloft, ready to jump into that pillow bedding and get some shuteye in order to be fresh for our Saturday adventures.

I don’t know if you’re like me, but when I wake up, I need one thing and I need it right away…coffee! I can remember staying at hotels a long time ago where coffee pots in the room were nonexistent, but fortunately it is more of a usual amenity in hotels these days, and it’s something for which I’m very grateful. Luckily, no one has to see me in my PJ’s with hair all a mess as I stumble my way down to the lobby for the magical elixir that will turn me into a real human again. But Aloft doesn’t just offer coffee in their rooms, they offer really GOOD coffee with half-and-half and sweeteners there for your pleasure. I made a cup and quickly returned to the comfy cozy sheets while I watched the morning TV shows on the beautiful LED TV and thought about what we were going to do first.

Once we were showered and ready, we went downstairs to try out their breakfast offerings. It’s an interesting concept they have. If you desire something hot like a breakfast sandwich, you can place an order with the attendant, but there are plenty of gourmet items you can pick up and go, so it’s ideal for those who just want something quick that they don’t have to sit down and wait on for a long time. There was a large contingent of young ladies staying there for a basketball tournament and this arrangement served them well by getting them out the door and to their game in quick order. Leigh and I had a little more time on our hands, so we opted with a hot breakfast croissant and split a delicious cinnamon roll from a local bakery that they offered. We enjoyed it immensely. Just outside their front doors, they have a couple of rocking chairs, so we opted to finish our coffee out there rocking and watching traffic go by. When was the last time you did that?

Now, of course, this is Kentucky, so what’s one thing Kentucky does better than anybody? Bourbon. We are known for our bourbon and therefore, as good ambassadors of our great state, we should know a little bit more about it than how we like to drink it. The best place to gain knowledge on a topic is to go to its source, where it’s made, so we knew a trip to a distillery would be smart. Located just a few blocks from Aloft is Angel’s Envy. It’s directly across from the baseball stadium; you can’t miss it. We had noticed on our walk the night before these motorized stand-up scooters parked all over and after doing some research and downloading an app, we were ready to do something else we hadn’t done in a long time. Actually, something we had never done (at least not an electric one)…ride a scooter! These little things are the most fun. Super easy to operate. They say you should do something every day that scares you, and that’s exactly what we did. After a few minutes, though, we were pros and we zipped to Angel’s Envy in no time.

The Angel’s Envy distillery is family-owned and operated, and they focus on producing hand-crafted, small batch whiskey. This is just the beginning of a wealth of information we learned from our incredibly knowledgeable and affable tour guide, Jimmy Hamblin. He walked us through the entire process as we toured throughout the large building. One thing to understand about distilleries, they’re hot in the summer. Soldier on, however, because it makes the arrival into the beautiful tasting room even sweeter. You feel like you have arrived in heaven. The beautifully appointed room with its massive natural tree table and leather stools has huge windows and tall ceilings. The tasting is always the best part of a bourbon tour. Jimmy showed us how to properly sip the amber liquid so that you can discern the many notes of flavor such as cherry, caramel, butterscotch, and even candy apple. Who knew it can be so complex? Even pairing it with chocolate can enhance the flavors in such a beautiful way that it’s easy to see why the people at Angels’ Envy are so passionate about their work. We were given drink tokens to take to their bar and told to take our time enjoying the beauty of the space and talking with our fellow tour folk. What a fantastic way to spend an afternoon! We hopped back on our scooters, and after a quick tour of the waterfront, headed back to our place to grab some lunch at their restaurant Corner.

Corner Restaurant and Bar is on the Urban Bourbon Trail and offers over 80 of Louisville’s finest bourbons. This makes perfect sense since Aloft is located on Whiskey Row. In addition to having this extra perk, their food is amazing. Our lunch here was so delicious. The cool vibe inside provides great ambience or you can dine on its flower box lined patio. Either way, you’re going to get high quality food at reasonable prices.

How we thought we could eat again so shortly after the magnificent lunch we had at Corner is beyond me, but that’s what you do on vacation, right? Eat! Located, again, within walking distance of the hotel is a honky tonk that serves up three of my favorite things: food, drinks and live music. Inside the place was bustling, so we opted to sit on their patio lined with pink and white flowers. The food here was fresh and hot and we scarfed it down while listening to a full range of music, not just country, which made Leigh happy because she isn’t the biggest country music fan. That night, we had decided to revisit one of the places we had toured on our scooters that afternoon, the famous Fourth Street Live. Since we were all dressed up, we chose another quick and inexpensive Uber rather than mess our hair up on the scooter. Fourth Street Live is a semi-covered block of bars and restaurants where it seems everyone from out of town has to visit at least once during their stay. It’s easy to see why. The neon lights accompanied by the different music floating out from the bars is like a siren beckoning you to come in. They have a variety of establishments to please everyone. We went from watching people ride a mechanical bull at the PBR to singing loudly and without abashment at Howl At The Moon, a dueling piano bar that’s just loads of fun. After the raucous night, it was such a pleasure to come back to the quiet comfort of Aloft to sink once again into clouds of softness.

Sunday morning was sad. It was sad because we knew we had to leave and return to our regular lives. Our time there had been magical. After another great cup of coffee, we said adieu to Aloft. We had a sublime weekend, one that everyone should indulge in from time to time, and if you do, make sure you stay at Aloft. There are many reasons why, but these are our top three reasons:

  1. Location, location, location

  2. Reasonably priced

  3. Pet-friendly

Take it from The Buds, Aloft will have you floating on high as you tour beautiful downtown Louisville with so many places to explore and fantastic food to enjoy.

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