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TravelBourbon, horses and boutique hotels: Louisville, Kentucky's booming hotel scene

Bourbon, horses and boutique hotels: Louisville, Kentucky’s booming hotel scene


As a longtime Louisvillian, I like to think I know where to find the best hotels, restaurants and things to do around town. The problem I used to have when making recommendations to out-of-towners, though, was that the good food and fun were nowhere near the city’s hotels. Before recently, the hotels were largely clustered downtown, near the airport and in the East End suburbs.

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If you wanted to experience the eclectic shops, galleries, eateries and nightlife in Louisville’s historic Highlands neighborhood or the burgeoning arts and culinary scene in the revitalized NuLu (short for New Louisville) neighborhood, you had to figure out how to get there from your hotel.

However, a handful of new hotels are now infusing these must-visit neighborhoods with a home base for visitors and Louisvillians who want a stylish hotel with local flair.

The Myriad Hotel in Highlands

The Myriad Hotel. TARAH CHIEFFI/THE POINTS GUY

One of those new spots is the 65-room Myriad Hotel, which opened in September 2023 in Louisville’s Highlands neighborhood. In its former life, The Myriad Hotel was the world’s largest disco ball factory, and its lobby lounge, Switchboard, was once home to the local Southern Bell Telephone Company. Paseo, the restaurant connected to The Myriad Hotel, opened shortly before the rest of the property in June 2023.

The Myriad Hotel could easily lean too far into that history with overt references around every corner, but you won’t find a disco ball spinning above the bed in every guest room. A few well-placed disco balls in the hotel’s public spaces add just the right amount of 1970s flair, while other references to the hotel’s history are more subtle (the glaring exception being the “party lights” button in the elevator).

“Design played a really important role here in interpreting some of the historical elements,” Craig Pishotti, co-founder of Common Bond, the hotel and hospitality management group behind The Myriad Hotel, told TPG.

Switchboard’s ceiling lights and wall sconces resemble the wires and lights you’d see at an old-school telephone company, and artwork in the lobby plays up the hotel’s ties to the groovy disco era.

The Myriad Hotel. TARAH CHIEFFI/THE POINTS GUY

But what really amplifies The Myriad’s sense of place as a historic building befitting the neighborhood’s eccentric personality is the meticulous preservation and restoration.

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“We love taking what’s out there and reimagining it. Instead of trying to hide the building’s industrial roots, we celebrate them,” Pishotti said. “We kept the original concrete floors, a lot of the exposed brick and windows.”

Even the bright orange tower overlooking the pool is original to the building’s factory days. When I toured the space, it felt lived in and sparkling with personality, thanks to the preservation, vibrant art, funky furnishings and an element of fun.

The Myriad’s Swim Club. THE MYRIAD HOTEL

I’ve enjoyed several delicious meals at Paseo. After my overnight stay, I can attest the coffee was good enough for me to skip my regular coffee shop and grab an iced Americano from Switchboard.

“We have really good food here in Louisville, and it’s because of the local farms,” Pishotti said. “We are affiliated with 25 local purveyors. We make everything at Paseo from scratch, which is painstakingly challenging, but you can taste it in the dishes,” he added.

I also snagged a spot at The Myriad’s Swim Club later this summer, which was no easy feat. The pool stays booked and busy, likely because of the regular DJ-led events and access to a poolside bar and food service from Paseo.

Unlike most area pools that require a membership, The Myriad Hotel pool offers day passes to local guests 21 and older Tuesday through Sunday. (Passes cost $10 per person Tuesday through Friday and $25 on Saturdays and Sundays. The pool is only open to hotel guests on Mondays.)

The Myriad Hotel. TARAH CHIEFFI/THE POINTS GUY

Pishotti doesn’t only want out-of-town guests to enjoy The Myriad Hotel’s alluring personality.

“We want people to come to Switchboard for coffee in the morning and cocktails at night or have brunch at Paseo and stay to swim at the pool,” he said. “We really want to embrace our Kentucky roots and create something that locals will love. We know if locals love it, visitors will come to love it as well.”

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Common Bond also operates the Bardstown Motor Lodge, a retro roadside motel in Bardstown, Kentucky, and soon plans to open the Broadway Hotel Frankfort in Kentucky’s capital within the heart of the Bourbon Trail.

Hotel Genevieve in NuLu

Hotel Genevieve. NICK SIMONITE/HOTEL GENEVIEVE

About a mile down the road in NuLu, you’ll find another of Louisville’s newest boutique properties, Hotel Genevieve. Hotel Genevieve is operated by Austin-based Bunkhouse Hotels, a hospitality group specializing in design-driven boutique properties. The hotels use artwork, design, and food and beverage offerings to honor and celebrate the communities in which they are based.

Hotel Genevieve is no different.

“Bunkhouse is a very local, communal brand that is also very design-driven,” Lisa Bonifacio, president and general counsel for Bunkhouse, told TPG. “When people travel, they are looking for an experience, and we’ve always been an experience-based hotel brand.”

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Louisville is the proud home of the original 21c Museum Hotels location, which opened in 2006. Since then, though, Louisville has long been overlooked by boutique brands when choosing new locations.

When asked why Bunkhouse chose Louisville as an outpost, Bonifacio said, “South Congress in Austin has changed drastically in the past 10 years, and that’s kind of how we saw NuLu in terms of the beautiful buildings, the local shops and restaurants and the walkability.”

In terms of theming, Hotel Genevieve could have gone heavy-handed, with tables made from bourbon barrels and paintings of horses in every room. Instead, it embraced Kentucky’s heritage and the neighborhood’s history.

A colorful mural outside the building painted by Xavier Schipani depicts the history of Louisville’s Haymarket — an early 1900s outdoor farmers market in what is now known as the NuLu neighborhood.

You can find nods to Kentucky’s quilt making history on pillows in the guest rooms, the hotel’s signature robe (each Bunkhouse location has its own robe pattern) and the logo of the hotel’s Parisian-inspired restaurant, Rosettes. Even the hotel’s speakeasy, Lucky Penny, is named for Penny Chenery, the owner of the 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat.

Lucky Penny at Hotel Genevieve. NICK SIMONITE/HOTEL GENEVIEVE

Hotel Genevieve doesn’t stop at representing authentic Kentucky traditions; it also supports local artisans and businesses in surprising and innovative ways.

The sauce drizzled over Rosettes’ popular Roasted Banana Bread French Toast is made with bourbon from Rabbit Hole Distillery, the hotel’s next-door neighbor. Additionally, works by local artists are displayed in every guest room and throughout the hotel’s public spaces. At Mini Marche, the hotel’s small market and coffee shop, you’ll find a selection of goods from local purveyors among the available snacks and drinks.

Hotel Genevieve. TARAH CHIEFFI/THE POINTS GUY

Like other Bunkhouse properties, Hotel Genevieve is much more than a place to stay. Locals and hotel guests can pop into Mini Marche for their morning cup of coffee (which I can also attest is delicious) and visit the rooftop Bar Genevieve for happy hour and panoramic city views in the evening.

“If you are working remotely, the hotel has places you want to sit in all day instead of a sterile lobby,” Bonifacio said. “With more people having that flexibility, it provides an even better opportunity for hotels like Genevieve to thrive because it’s an environment people really want to be in.”

Other conveniently located hotels

Louisville’s 21c Museum Hotel, The Myriad Hotel and Hotel Genevieve aren’t the only lifestyle hotels sprinkled throughout the city. There’s also The Bellwether in the Highlands, The Grady Hotel in downtown and Tempo by Hilton Louisville Downtown NuLu in NuLu.

These properties are invigorating Louisville’s hotel scene with something we desperately needed: affordable places to work, stay and play that both visitors and permanent residents actually want to spend time in. They also provide something I have been searching for: spots to get a great cup of coffee.

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