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Going to the Kentucky Derby is a bucket list item for many people because of this unique twist on sports and fun. Even if you’ve been to other major sporting events, such as a Super Bowl or World Series game, there’s nothing quite like a good horse race. There’s much more to this event than just watching horses run around a track though, because of all the pomp and circumstance, impressive outfits, nostalgic cocktails, and don’t forget about the hats! The atmosphere of the Kentucky Derby is festive and fueled by adrenaline, offering some of the best people-watching opportunities you’ll ever have. So, as you plan your trip to Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby weekend, here are eight top-notch places to stay.
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One very highly recommended hotel for the Kentucky Derby is the Galt House Hotel, which actually offers Kentucky Derby hotel packages. This hotel dates back to the early 1800s when it was a residence owned by Dr. W.C. Galt. It is the official host hotel of the Derby and offer local and authentic accommodations for your three-night stay. The package includes a call to the post party on Thursday, an in-room Derby amenity, overnight covered parking for a vehicle, fitness center access, and complimentary Wi-Fi. On site you’ll find six restaurants and lounges and also shops to pick out a new hat for the event. When you stay here, you’ll also be close to Whiskey Row, have lovely waterfront views, and be in a good location to explore Louisville highlights at nearby Museum Row.
The Seelbach Hilton Louisville also offers a wonderful Kentucky Derby experience to enjoy the nostalgia of the Derby in style. This hotel’s Derby package starts at $4,600 plus tax and includes a room or suite for three evenings and brunch for two people each day in the Oakroom. When you stay here, you’ll be just a few minutes from Churchill Downs and also in the heart of Downtown Louisville. Guests who choose this package will also enjoy complimentary airport transportation and being right next door to the 4th Street Live Entertainment Complex. Onsite dining and drinking options include Gatsby’s on Fourth for all meals, the extensive bourbon collection at the Old Seelbach Bar, and in-room dining to relax and unwind.
For a truly unique place to stay when you come to the Kentucky Derby, consider staying at Hermitage Farm. This has been a working farm for around 200 years and has deep Kentucky roots. It is also home to a renowned thoroughbred operation and sport horse training facility. Groups of friends or large families who come to the Derby together might consider renting out the Main House, which has five bedrooms and sleeps up to 10 people. This 19th-century farmhouse is about 20 minutes from Downtown Louisville and less than 25 miles from Churchill Downs. Inside the house, you’ll find a kitchen, areas for dinner parties, original artwork, fireplaces, and lovely hardwood floors. You might even want to take a farm tour or go for a carriage ride while staying here.
Louisville’s Inn at Woodhaven is also a wonderful place to stay for the Kentucky Derby, and there’s even a Derby-themed room on the first floor with a whimsical theme filled with horses, chickens, and bees in the décor. This room is even pet-friendly if you bring your pup along. The inn is on the National Register of Historic Places and has eight guest rooms in a bed and breakfast setting. Enjoy the look of antiques in the inn, complimentary coffee and after-dinner liquors with desserts on the porch, and the inn’s central location on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. The breakfasts here are deliciously made with fresh and organic ingredients, and package deals are offered that include bourbon and chocolate, girls’ getaway perks, whirlpool baths, and picnics to go.
The Brown Hotel is also a top choice for attendees of the Kentucky Derby and a glamorous place for group gatherings. When it’s Derby time, Brown Hotel guests enjoy luxurious accommodations, a welcome gift, Sunday brunch, and of course mint juleps to celebrate the race traditions. Overall, this is a landmark hotel in Louisville that is the perfect mix of old-world elegance and modern comforts. The elegant J. Graham’s Café is onsite and offers delicious cuisine, including the “hot brown,” which is a legendary local dish. Package deals are offered that include breakfast for two, bourbon flights, valet parking, keepsake souvenirs, and romantic roses.
The Fairfield Inn & Suites Louisville Downtown is also close to the Kentucky Derby and a convenient place to stay when you’re in town. Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum are about six miles away. The hotel has easy access to both I-64 and I-65 and is just steps away from lots of downtown attractions, such as the KFC Yum! Center and 4th Street Live. Fairfield offers free Wi-Fi, flat-panel televisions, a 24-hour fitness center, and free breakfast. There’s also an indoor pool here, and parking ranges from $10 to $19 per day.
We also love the 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville for a fun place to stay during the Kentucky Derby. This hotel has offered a Derby After Dusk event that celebrates Louisville culture and a big party after the race. Located on West Main Street on Museum Row, this hotel is also a museum and home to the Proof on Main restaurant by Executive Chef Mike Wajda. The museum here is free and open to the public every day of the year. This hotel also has a fitness center and offers spa treatments with 24-hour advance notice.
For a luxurious and historical stay near the Kentucky Derby, consider booking a room at the DuPont Mansion bed & breakfast. The Dupont Mansion is only a little over two miles from Churchill Downs. This B&B is also just steps away from Louisville’s central commerce and perfect for a weekend. Free off-street parking is available, as well as whirlpool tubs, free Wi-Fi, and delicious daily breakfasts. Special offers include the Kentucky Bourbon Tour, romantic getaway packages, and the Louisville Ghost Tour.