The Best Hotels to Book Near Churchill Downs Racetrack

Dine in the arty 21c Museum Hotel Louisville for a unique experience near Churchill Downs Racetrack
Dine in the arty 21c Museum Hotel Louisville for a unique experience near Churchill Downs Racetrack | Courtesy of 21c Museum Hotel Louisville / Expedia
Photo of Nick Dauk
25 October 2021

One of the most famous horse races in the world, the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs Racetrack is also close enough for sampling Louisville’s bourbon and whiskey scene in haunts such as Whiskey Row. It’s easy when you stay at these top hotels nearby, bookable on Culture Trip.

The Brown Hotel, for Georgian-Revival glamour / heavyweight history near the Muhammad Ali Center

The Brown Hotel
Courtesy of the Brown Hotel /

You can’t visit Louisville without tasting the famous hot brown, and where better to taste it than where it was created: the Brown Hotel. It may be the city’s culinary icon, but the hotel itself is no side dish. Hand-woven throws and hand-polished Spanish Ramora marble floors add an old world warmth to every refined suite. The room named the Greatest is obviously the Muhammad Ali Suite, where a mahogany four-poster bed and marble jacuzzi tub will make you feel like a champ.

21c Museum Hotel Louisville, for art-driven dreams near the Frazier History Museum

21c Museum Hotel Louisville
Courtesy of 21c Museum Hotel Louisville /

You don’t need to see the vibrant installations or framed art along the walls to know that this hotel doubles as a museum – you’ll get the hint when you spot the double-sized replica of David on check-in. More galleries, museums, the science center and historical tours are all within two blocks of your artfully decorated rooms. The rooftop apartment is awesome but nothing compares to the immersive Cyclone Suite, a sculptural installation you can spend the night in.

Vu Guesthouse & Luxury Boutique Hotel, for industrial chic in Smoketown

Vu Guesthouse
Courtesy of Vu Guesthouse /

Whether you’re headed to Churchill Downs or Cardinal Stadium, Vu puts you a short cab ride from the action. Hanging out in the historic Smoketown area of Louisville, this boutique hotel is a quiet retreat where you’ll savor doing nothing more than lounging on the leather couch in your suite. If you need a change of scenery, slide into a seat at the lobby bar as an aspiring songwriter dances their way across the black and whites of the grand piano.

The Seelbach Hilton, for Victorian grandeur on South 4th Street

The Seelbach Hilton Louisville
Courtesy of the Seelbach Hilton Louisville /

Allow the Seelbach Hilton to provide a grand experience that’s as dressed up with sophistication as a Kentucky Derby crowd. Though even the one-bedrooms have separate parlor spaces, we suggest reserving a room worthy of the Winner’s Circle. The eponymous suite is as luxurious as ever with its carved-oak fireplace, 9ft (2.7m) bookcases, cathedral ceilings and stained-glass windows that are as ornate as ever. Same-day dry cleaning service will ensure that your Derby attire looks as primed and proper as the grounds of Churchill Downs.

Omni Louisville Hotel, for fine-dining foodies near the Kentucky International Convention Center

The modern, towering Omni Louisville Hotel exterior at dusk
Courtesy of Omni Louisville Hotel / Expedia

Foodies will do well to pack a bib when staying at this architecturally striking hotel topped with a rooftop pool cafe. Omni’s half-dozen hotel restaurants range from Pin + Proof, which will bowl you over with speakeasy-style cocktails and four bowling lanes, while high-end bourbon tasting at Lewis + Louis will amp up your appetite. Prime Midwest beef will moo you into Bob’s Steak & Chop House unless you’d rather start with dessert at the gelato corner in Falls City Market.

The Galt House Hotel, for waterfront wellbeing near the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts

A sleek bar with shelves of liquor and cushioned barstools at the Galt House Hotel, Trademark Collection by Wyndham
Courtesy of The Galt House Hotel, Trademark Collection by Wyndham /

Consider the Galt House Hotel your ambassador of all things Louisville. This waterfront hotel is right in the epicenter of Derby City: Whisky Row, the Louisville Riverwalk, the Urban Bourbon Trail, the Museum District and more are at your fingertips. We doubt you’ll be out for long, though – between the balcony views from your suite and the head-to-toe pampering at the salon and spa, this will feel like a home you never want to leave.

Embassy Suites by Hilton Louisville Downtown, for sophisticated city suites near Whiskey Row

Embassy Suites
Courtesy of Embassy Suites by Hilton Louisville Downtown / Expedia

Need a day to recover from a night on Whiskey Row? This historic corner hotel will soothe your senses in neutral-toned suites with sink-into beds and a sofa bed, if you’d sooner spend the afternoon recuperating on the couch. Tuck into a hearty hot breakfast of potatoes, eggs and bacon. As for the hair of the dog, the complimentary wine, beer and spirits will help you rally for another night out.

Sheraton Louisville Riverside Hotel, for riverside rest near Ashland Park

Sheraton Louisville Riverside Hotel
Courtesy of Sheraton Louisville Riverside Hotel / Expedia

Soak up the sights of the Ohio River from a cozy river view suite bathed in biscuit-brown across the bridge from downtown Louisville. It’s almost impossible to escape the waterway during your stay – from breakfast at the Riverside’s Cafe to Kentucky bourbon nightcaps at Bridge & Barrel, you’ll constantly savor views of the water and the Louisville skyline. Still searching for that perfect selfie backdrop? Stop for a scoop of ice cream in Ashland Park’s Victorian shop.

Fairfield Inn & Suites Louisville New Albany IN, for relaxed river views near Buffalo Art Park

Fairfield Inn & Suites Louisville New Albany IN
Courtesy of Fairfield Inn & Suites Louisville New Albany IN / Expedia | Courtesy of Fairfield Inn & Suites Louisville New Albany IN / Expedia

Check out the other side of the Ohio River from this welcoming hotel with scenic Louisville views and a warming lobby-lounge fireplace. Buffalo Art Park, a two-minute drive away, is a picturesque place to admire the hillside. Then head inside for hot oatmeal and lengths in the pool – or if you must have more of that fresh Indiana air, the outdoor patio is as comfortable as the king mattress in your suite.

These recommendations were updated on October 25, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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