I love history and all the things we can learn from the past. I love to tour older buildings, just imagining the things that the walls have seen and heard and how life has changed.
When the opportunity arose recently to stay at the Seelbach Hilton Hotel (map), a luxury hotel on the National Register of Historic Places, I was packed and in the car before you could say, “which way to Louisville, Kentucky?”
Built in 1905, this downtown Louisville landmark is a flashback to the golden era, oozing an ambiance that inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald, while writing “The Great Gatsby”, to use the Seelbach as the scene for Tom and Daisy Buchanan’s wedding. In my mind I could picture genteel ladies with hats perched on their heads and powerful businessmen with starched white shirts and suspenders gracing this lobby.
Expecting that kind of charm as I walked through the front doors of this Four-Diamond hotel, I was not disappointed. The beautiful wooden front desk, the marble flooring, an ornate skylight and grand staircase, and an equally warm and friendly greeting of the staff, making me instantly feel like a welcomed guest.
Exiting off the wood wrapped elevators and walking down the hallway to our room, I noticed small compartments with tiny doors about a foot from the bottom of each thick wooden guest room door. After entering our room, and noticing the same compartment door on the inside of the room, I realized this was a shoe-shine portal and another flash of an era gone-by.
Having recently undergone a $12 million renovation the hotel has maintained its world class charm while satisfying a new generation of travelers with all the modern conveniences, including new room furnishings and fixtures, in-room technology and a state of the art business center.
While I can’t imagine Daisy Buchanan on a treadmill, the new fitness center has a large bank of windows overlooking the street and all the activities of the adjacent 4th Street Live complex (map).
The Seelbach is home to Kentucky’s first and only AAA Five-Diamond restaurant, The Oakroom. Originally a gentlemen’s-billiards-hall in 1907, the decor retains the carved lion’s head columns, wood accents and brass chandeliers, the perfect atmosphere to sip the specialty of the house, a glass of reserve bourbon.
A stop on the Urban Bourbon Trail, the Old Seelbach Bar, located off the lobby has been named one of the 50 best bars and features live jazz music on Fridays and Saturdays.
Restored to its original condition, the 1900’s era mahogany bar serves up a “world-class whiskey collection”. If you are like me, however, skip the whiskey and go straight for a Kentucky classic dessert, warm Bourbon chocolate pecan pie!
Up for a little adventure? Head to the basement and search out The Rathskeller. The only surviving Rookwood-Pottery room in the world, is used now only for special occasions. With walls and ceiling covered in decorative tiles and hand-painted leather, this room is not to be missed.
The Seelbach Hilton is conveniently located near many of Louisville’s attractions including Churchill Downs (map), the Louisville Slugger Museum (map), and Bourbon Distillery tours to name a few.
It is this historic architecture, modern convenience and grand service that has welcomed famous guests including a Duchess, nine Presidents, and dozens of Hollywood celebrities and musical performers. I am sure that on your next trip to Louisville, you will feel as welcomed at the Seelbach Hilton Hotel.
Photo Selections: flickr and personal collection
Fourth Street Live!, Louisville, KY 40202
Fourth Street Live!, Louisville, KY 40202
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