I have a confession. I love really nice hotels. I haven’t always been able to stay at well-appointed hotels. In fact, motels were often where I stayed anytime I had the luxury of traveling somewhere outside of Kentucky. But then I started staying at nicer places, and once you do so, you can’t really go back. If a hotel has a historic past, I’m even more on board. Luckily, there’s a historic hotel that has all the frills I love and it’s right here in Kentucky. It’s The Galt House Hotel.
The idea of a hotel along the river in Louisville dates to 1835, and in fact, two different hotels were built along the riverfront. The first one hosted notables of the day like Abraham Lincoln and Charles Dickens. A fire destroyed it in 1865, and the second one built on the site closed in 1919 after facing financial trouble. In 1972, the current version of The Galt House was resurrected by developer Al J. Schneider as part of a renewal project of downtown Louisville’s riverfront. The hotel now consists of 1310 guest rooms thanks to the addition of the East Tower that was added in 1984, and it’s Kentucky’s largest. Three years ago, the hotel underwent a massive $80 million renovation and having been to The Galt House a few times before then, I was anxious to take a tour and spend the night there. It was everything I had hoped it would be, and here are five reasons why you should love The Galt House, too!
1. It’s beautiful. Thanks to that renovation I mentioned earlier, everything is bright and new. We stayed in one of the Parlor Suites in the West Tower and it was very spacious. The two-room suite has plenty of room to spread out, and it has two bathrooms (something you really appreciate if you’re traveling with a companion). The real standout, however, was the spectacular view of the river.
2. Location, location, location. If you're doing anything in downtown Louisville, like seeing a show at the KFC Yum Center, visiting the Muhammad Ali Center, the Louisville Slugger Museum, or Whiskey Row, this is the place to stay. Another popular spot to visit is 4th Street Live and it's just a short walk away. If it’s cold or if you’re wearing high heels, there are plenty of ride-sharing options to get you there fast. One of our favorite places to visit there is Howl at the Moon. It’s a piano bar that welcomes all ages to join along in the fun. There are also plenty of food options available.
3. Speaking of food, that's another reason to love The Galt House because they have seven restaurants and lounges, including Swizzle, which is where we had a spectacular meal. Swizzle is on the 25th floor of the West Tower and it's inspired by 1940's Louisville. It has panoramic views that you can easily take in because the dining room rotates. Wine Spectator awarded them an Award of Excellence this year, and the food was tremendous. They offer the usual suspects: steaks, seafood, and pasta. They also bring around a candy cart. (Who doesn’t love a candy cart?) Their tag line is sexy, swanky, social, and I would agree with all those adjectives. It really is ideal for any special occasion or date night.
If you’re looking for other dining options, there is Walker’s Exchange that offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a weekend buffet. The Jockey Silks Bourbon Bar was voted #1 bar and restaurant by Trip Advisor, and there you can sip on Kentucky’s finest spirits while enjoying their bites menu. The beautiful Conservatory Bar is billed as Louisville’s “longest” bar and it’s in the atrium connecting the two towers. With an array of TV’s and plenty of seating, this is where you want to hang out for any ball game. If you’re going to an event at the KFC Yum Center, you need to stop by the Down One Bourbon Bar that is located on Main Street at the corner of the property. They pride themselves on fast service and strong whiskey.
No matter what you’re in the mood for, the Galt House has a dining option for you, three out of four which were voted best restaurant in Louisville. Not too shabby!
4. Pelo West Spa. The Galt House also renovated their spa and it’s fantastic. There's graffiti art on the walls, everything is dark and moody...just what you want when you are looking to unwind and indulge in some self-care. They offer several massage options, including couples massage, and each one comes with a complimentary 30-minute sauna session. They have a full-service hair and nail salon, so they will have you looking and feeling your best.
5. It’s the simple things. For some reason, higher-end hotels have started charging for Wifi and no longer have coffee makers in the rooms. This is not the case at the Galt House. They proudly offer both. I don't know why this makes me so happy, but it does. Who wants to stumble downstairs in your jammies with your hair all a mess just to get a cup of Joe so you can come back to life? Trust me, nobody wants to see me before I’ve had a chance to get myself together.
All in all, it’s easy to see why The Galt House remains an icon in Louisville. A lot of thought has been put into every detail and the staff is more than happy to accommodate any of your needs. For these reasons, it’s at the top of the list of places we recommend when visiting Derby City. If you’ve never visited, you’re in for a real treat, and if you’ve not been in a long time, make a return visit. You will be so happy you did!
Some Photos Courtesy of https://galthouse.com/gallery