Every year for generations, travelers flock to Louisville for two things: Derby and bourbon. With a place rich in culture beyond imbibing and horseracing, there’s much more to experience, including one of the city’s newest boutique hotels, worth planning a trip around.
One of the top stays in the ‘River City’ is Hotel Genevieve, from the Bunkhouse Hotels group. Bunkhouse is known for its design-led properties, often with a funky, memorable twist, and this property fits the bill. Its exterior is unassuming, but inside is a world of wonder. In the vibrant, walkable NuLu neighborhood, Genevieve is the floral, art-loving, and architecturally forward hotel on the block.
Inspired by the regional limestone, a key ingredient for making the city’s famous bourbon, and for the Patron Saint of Paris, both named Saint Genevieve, the dwelling is a nod to Louisville’s historic French roots. The 122-room French-inspired hotel has an undeniable Midwest meets Southern charm. From the arched doors meant to mimic a brasserie to the antique art that lines the lobby walls, every corner feels like an art installation. The salmon and gold lobby and plant-topped front desk greet visitors with an intentionally feminine feel and warm customer service you’d expect in the South.
The dynamic layers of Louisville’s history and culture show up all around the hotel, too, for a uniquely local touch. In Lucky Penny, the not-so-secret on-site speakeasy nods to the famous disco ball-making era of the city. Horses appear in the art behind the front desk as an ode to Kentucky Derby culture.
Part Parisian, part Appalachian-rustic, Rosette’s, the hotel’s mainstay restaurant, is a must-try. Available for dining throughout the day, the space is bathed in sunlight, featuring expansive open windows and parlor-style seating beneath orange chandeliers, creating an overall relaxed and airy ambiance. At the helm of Executive Chef Christopher Ayala, the menu distinctly reflects Southern influences. Notable brunch dishes include the Hot Madame breakfast sandwich, comprising a croissant bun, a fried egg, turkey, mornay, bacon, gruyere cheese, and marinated tomatoes. For dinner, indulge in the Beef Bourguignon Tortellini, which features Demi-glace, pickled shallots, and onion soubise.
Guest rooms feature shades of blue, yellow, and pink, from ceiling to carpet, with scalloped floor-length drapes, floral velvet cornered chairs, waved headboards trimmed in wood, terracotta touches, and pillows made of upcycled vintage quilts. Stepping into the bathroom feels like a walk into the 60’s mod design era featuring a curved ivory marble vanity, bold circular golden light futures, and a waved mirror that playfully compliments the decor of the sleeping area.
One of the best parts of the property is the sixth-floor rooftop bar space. It sits beneath grand chandeliers and has arched cognac leather chairs, green checkered tiles, and deep emerald finishes. The bar is undeniably chic but maintains a vintage feel with sweeping city and river views. The menu is simple and perfect for an afternoon bite, while the cocktails are hand-crafted and made with the freshest ingredients. You shouldn’t leave without trying their espresso martini—made precisely how it should be: freshly brewed, balanced, and slightly frothy.
Location: Louisville, Kentucky
Rating: Four Stars
The vibe: Cozy Southern charm with a Parisian flair
Amenities: restaurants, mini market, rooftop bar, in-room Bluetooth speaker, dog-friendly and free wifi
Food + Drink: The hotel has a few food and drink options: Rosette’s, a lobby restaurant with the feel of an al fresco Parisian cafe with a distinctly Southern menu inspired by African-American foodways. The rooftop haven, Bar Genevieve, has panoramic views overlooking the city and the Ohio River with delicious cocktails and light French-inspired bites like the Hot Brown Monsieur with turkey and gruyere on a brioche bun. At the Mini Marché, a bright yellow and checkered-tile market, find typically convenience store bites, with fresh coffee breakfast sandwiches and local provisions sold too. Lucky Penny, the hotel’s speakeasy perfect for cocktails and a quick bite, is tucked into the back of the hotel where you’d least expect it.
Our favorite thing about the hotel? Yes, the hidden speakeasy, Lucky Penny, is located behind an unassuming stickered within the Mini Marché. Beyond the usual secretive vibes of any speakeasy, Lucky Penny’s moody, dark, almost futuristic feel contrasts and retreats from the rest of the hotel’s rich, eclectic spaces. They’re open on weekends until 2 AM for nightcaps and bar snacks.
Any neighborhood recs? Just a few blocks away is ‘Please and Thank You.’ The coffee shop and bakery sells gooey chocolate chip cookies, earning them the title “Best Cookie Shop” in the US. Vintage shopping lovers should head to Vie Elevéefor throwback pieces, including jewelry, eyewear, and clothing. One of the city’s most popular Cuban restaurants is just across the street, La Bodeguita De Mima.
What’s nearby? Muhammad Ali Center, Rabbit Hole Distillery, Biscuit Belly, Old 502 Winery, and many other shops and restaurants.
Pricing: Rooms start at $135/night
Rooms: 122 rooms
Closest airport: Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport