With spring just around the corner, racing season is almost upon us – and if you enjoy dressing up in your finery for a day on the tracks, then what better place than the iconic Kentucky Derby?
Set to take place on 1st May as the finisher for the 146th two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival, this famous race, set in Louisville, Kentucky, is once again set to be a highlight of the 2020 racing calendar – and is a bucket list experience that avid racegoers must tick off at least once in their lifetime.
A Grade 1 stakes race for three-year-old thoroughbreds, it’s not just the on-track action that makes this event quite so spectacular, and the pomp and circumstance is easily one of its main draws. Expect to get dressed up to the nines and enjoy five-star catering and champagne on tap in your favourite VIP box – and be sure to purchase yourself a stand-out hat for the occasion, too.
So, if you’re as partial to the glitz and glamour of the races as you are the adrenaline and excitement of seeing the Kentucky Derby horses take off down the track, then it may well be time to start planning your trip. You sort the transport, we’ll sort the hotels – because Louisiana is home to some luxury accommodation choices you won’t want to miss.
Where to Stay
Galt House Hotel, Trademark Collection by Wyndham
If you’re looking for a luxurious place to base yourself throughout the Kentucky Derby weekend, the Galt House Hotel, which dates back to the early 1800s, certainly won’t disappoint. It might be old, but that is all part of its glamour and sophistication, and as the official host hotel of the Derby, you know it must be something pretty special. Located close to the famous Whisky Row, the Galt House offers sweeping views over the Ohio River.
Three-night packages over the race weekend itself include a call-to-the-post party on the Thursday night, and there are six restaurant and lounges on site, as well as a selection of designer shops and a luxurious spa. Unsurprisingly, this place gets booked up fast – so make your reservations now to avoid disappointment.
Seelback Hilton Louisville
Set just 900 yards from the Kentucky International Convention Centre, the five-star Seelback Hilton is a sumptuous and sophisticated accommodation choice that offers opulence by the bucketload. Located in the heart of Downtown Louiseville and just a few minutes from Churchill Downs – home of the Kentucky Derby, it’s perfectly located for a weekend on the tracks. Rooms have a regal feel, and come fully equipped with all the luxury mod cons you’d expect – from flat-screen TVs to air conditioning – while a concierge service will ensure that your every need is met throughout your stay.
Dining options include the glamorous Gatsby’s on Fourth, while the Seelback bar offers an extensive Bourbon collection you just have to try whilst in the city.
Once again, this hotel offers specially designed packages over the Derby weekend, including a room or suite for two people for three nights, will daily brunch each day in the beautiful Oak Room.
The Brown Hotel
A stay at the spectacular Brown Hotel is a little like taking a step back in time. With a distinctive nod to times gone by, everything about it adds to the feeling of regal opulence – right down to the traditional mint juleps which are an iconic drink to raise in toast come race day.
Fusing traditional elegance with modern luxury, the hotel offers a range of options for eating and drinking. A favourite is the sophisticated J. Graham’s Café, which offers a range of local dishes that you’ll want to try whilst in the city.
Package deals for the weekend include a three night stay with breakfast for two, plus valet parking, a bourbon flight and a beautiful bouquet of roses.
Where to Eat
After the races, head to Decca for mouth-watering cuisine served up in a vibrant American restaurant and cellar bar. Headed up by talented chef, Annie Pettry, the kitchen is committed to working with high-quality, locally sourced ingredients, and the restaurant regularly features local artists and musicians, creating a warm and sophisticated atmosphere to accompany your dining experience.
Serving up rustic, wood-fired European cuisine alongside boutique wines, artisan cocktails and craft beer, La Chasse is a great place to celebrate a win at the races. With head chef Tina Dyer at the helm, this unique restaurant bases its inspired menu around a fusion of Southern French and Spanish flavours.
Image credit at the very top of the article: Jonathan Weiss/Bigstock.com