Finding a place to stay in Louisville isn’t all that hard, especially if you want to stay right on Whiskey Row. There are, however, a few places that do stand out. One such place is Hotel Distil (part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection). This is where you should stay if you’re in town to drink whiskey, soak up everything else Louisville has to offer, and eat some of the best food in the city.
Before we dive in, this hotel is right in the middle of Whiskey Row in Louisville. That makes it a foregone conclusion that you’ll be visiting the many distilleries mere steps away. Hell, Old Forester is literally next door. Within just a few blocks along Main Street, you can hit up Evan Williams, Angel’s Envy, Rabbit Hole, Michter’s Fort Nelson, and Kentucky Peerless Distilling with a hell of a lot more within another few blocks. Then a short drive west and you’ll be in Shivley where Stitzel-Weller (Diageo), Brown-Forman, Michter’s, and a Heaven Hill outpost sits. So, we’re going to focus on a few other attractions around Louisville below. Becasue, let’s face it, you can only drink so much whiskey before you need a break.
Okay, with that out of the way, let’s dive into why Hotel Distil in Louisville is one of the hotels we love!
WHY IT’S AWESOME:
As we mentioned above, this is where you want to stay if you’re in Louisville for whiskey. Walk out of the front door and there are about half-a-dozen options depending on if you turn left or right along Main, and they’re all within walking distance. For a city like Louisville, that’s pretty crucial as the Uber and Lyft scenes aren’t that great (the apps work, but you’ll need a fair amount of patience).
Walking to your favorite whiskey distillery tour is great. Highlights include the tour at Peerless, the cocktail bar at Michter’s, hitting up Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen for a little honky-tonk and shots, and Justins’ House of Bourbon for those super rare pours.
But all of that is outside the hotel. The hotel is actually a pretty rad destination on its own. The bar/restaurant just off the lobby, Repeal Oak-Fired Steakhouse, is a spot where hip locals and travelers in the know go for fantastic food. This leads us to…
IN-HOUSE FOOD + DRINK:
You’ll want to make a reservation for Repeal Oak-Fired Steakhouse when you book your room. First and foremost, get their dinner rolls. They’re not on the menu but they’re the best bread I’ve ever had in my life. And I’ve been to the best boulangeries in Paris and tandoori ovens in Delhi and have baked my own bread in ancient ovens in Tangier. These dinner rolls beat all of that. They’re the softest, buttteriest, stretchiest dinner rolls I’ve ever tasted. They feel like grandma’s house on a snowy Christmas morning. The word is, they let these rolls ferment for over five days before they’re baked with just the right amount of salt and butter. These are truly what bread is meant to be. I’ve gone back to Repeal and just ordered the dinner rolls and a glass of whiskey and sat at the bar and unabashedly enjoyed the whole plate to myself.
There’s also an excellent menu built around Euro-American classics. The Oysters Rockafeller is a must (pictured below) alongside the Oak-fired Heirloom Carrots, a ridiculously huge Wedge Salad with a cow’s-tongue-sized slice of in-house smoked and cured bacon, and the Steak Tartar … all must-haves.
Then there are the steaks. Generally speaking, I don’t get too excited for cuts like sirloin or strip, but between the bespoke rub, the fire fueled with oak whiskey staves, and the quality of the beef, these steaks were damn near perfect. I was also able to order by calling out the internal temp I wanted for my steak and the server (and chef) didn’t miss a step.
All of this is before we even get to the drinks. It goes without saying that the whiskey collection at Repeal’s bar is stellar. Grab an Eagle Rare Old Fashioned to start things off. They’re about $25 but 100 percent worth it. Then check their deep wine menu for your dinner pairing. Finally, if you’re feeling saucy, you can get a Pappy pour from $50 to $85.
Lastly, each evening, the hotel staff serves large pours of J.T.S. Brown Bourbon in the lobby for … free. If you’re hanging around the bar between six and eight, just listen for the big bell to ring in the lobby and mosey over. Just make sure to leave a good tip.
- Air conditioning
- Alarm clock
- Complimentary WiFi
- Coffee maker/tea service
- Crib, on request
- Individual climate control
- In-room dining, on request
- Iron and ironing board
- Valet Parking: $32.00 daily
- 24-Hour Fitness Center
- Maximum of 2 pets per room, $100 non-refundable pet fee includes bourbon barrel dog bed, Pupjoy treat box, and Hotel Distil toy
The standard rooms come with either two queens or one king, a small bar cart (and minibar), a work desk, coffee machine, plenty of closet space, and a well-fitted bathroom with tiles and decent fixtures.
One step up, and you can get yourself a Corner King which has the same amenities but a view over the Ohio River or Louisville from a corner window. There’s a little more room and a proper seating place with a small couch and chair.
The top tier is the Connessuir Suite which has quite a bit more space with a proper seating area, a full wet/bourbon bar, a larger bathroom with a view, and just more space to stretch out in.
THE BEST THING TO DO WITHIN A 15 MINUTE WALK:
We already talked about the whiskey plenty above. So, take a little time to hit up the Muhammad Ali Center. It’s a short walk from the hotel and won’t take up too much of an afternoon. Even if you’re not into boxing, the Center does a great job telling the story of Ali’s many other achievements in life and how deep his impact truly has been for both Louisville and the world.
THE BEST THING TO DO WITHIN A $10 CAB RIDE:
A great way to spend an evening away from Whiskey Row is at Churchill Downs. The iconic race track has races happening most nights. You can post up in the bleachers with a mint julep in hand and bet on the ponies all night (there’ll be around a dozen races).
If you’re not into the gambling aspect, you can also go during the day. There’s a tour of the facilities, a museum, restaurants, and you can even pay to ride some horse around the legendary track. No matter what you choose, it’s a nice change of pace.
7/10 — Overall, these are just Marriott beds. They’re fine and perfectly comfortable but still have the stiffness you get from Marriott’s line. Let’s just say that thread counts and down-sourcing are not at the top of the list when making these beds.
8/10 — The bar scene at Repeal is pretty lively most nights. You can definitely meet either a local or tourist if you post up at the bar and order a cocktail or whiskey pour. The rooftop bar, Bitter Ends, also has a lively scene that runs a little longer in the summer months.
That being said, the restaurant definitely leans more towards couples out for a night on the town.
10/10 — If you want that perfect shot of an expertly made cocktail, this is the spot. The lighting is generally pretty good at the bar for drinks but fades nicely away at the edge of the bar, allowing for more atmospheric lighting over the seats. The staff is all in white shirts and bowties, adding to the mystique of the place. Plus, the food is super photogenic.
BEST SEASON TO VISIT:
Generally speaking, late summer/early fall is probably high on the list as that’s when whiskey festivals take place. Plus, Louder Than Life happens around the end of summer (usually) in case you want to see some serious metal bands in between whiskey tours.
Otherwise, you can really hit Whiskey Row and Hotel Distil year-round.
IF I HAD TO COMPLAIN ABOUT ONE THING:
The rooms do have a twinge of corporate-ness to them. It’s not as blank as a standard Marriott, but it’s still there. Muted colors, matte art, and plastic coffee machines don’t really add up to much. The rooms are very comfortable in an average sort of way, which gets the job done. Look at it this way, the bar scene and food more than make up for any fault I have in the greyness of the rooms.
Rooms start at $200 per night.
We’d like to acknowledge and honor the original peoples of this land, the Kaskaskia, Ni-u-kon-ska (Osage), ᏣᎳᎫᏪᏘᏱ Tsalaguwetiyi (Cherokee, East), Shawandasse Tula (Shawanwaki/Shawnee), S’atsoyaha (Yuchi), Adena, and Hopewell nations.