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Seelbach Hilton 4.0

Louisville, Kentucky, United States

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Review Summary

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  • Located in the heart of downtown, a brief walk to many attractions
  • Historic hotel dating to 1905 with spectacular public spaces 
  • Fine-dining in the Oak Room, an opulent, destination restaurant
  • Casual eatery, bar specializing in Kentucky bourbon, and on-site Starbucks
  • Traditionally decorated rooms and spacious suites
  • Unique event space including Rookwood Pottery Rathskeller
  • Fitness center with cardio and weight-training machines
  • Business center with four computers 
  • Free downtown shuttle
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout 


  • Tired, pedestrian rooms with older furnishings
  • Room layouts and configurations are inconsistent
  • Small bathrooms, some with awkward step-up entrances

Bottom Line

The four-pearl Seelbach Hilton is a historic landmark hotel centrally located in downtown Louisville, a short walk to several attractions. The Suites in the hotel’s 321-room inventory are especially spacious and distinctive, but Standard Rooms vary in size and layout, and their traditional decor is lackluster and looks tired. Bathrooms are small as well. Its opulent, fine-dining restaurant and Rookwood Pottery-tiled Rathskeller are truly unique attractions with colorful histories. An attractive alternative could be the nearby Brown Hotel, another upscale, historic property, but expect to pay slightly higher rates to stay there on most dates. 

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Spectacular historic setting buzzing with social and business events

It’s clear to see why this circa 1905, Beaux-Arts Baroque style hotel was inspiration for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s "The Great Gatsby." In fact, the author frequented the hotel and was said to have begun writing the novel on bar napkins here. Different colors of marble line the columns and walls in the lobby that lead up to coffered ceilings and hand-painted murals depicting scenes from Kentucky history. Light marble floors abut a round, vintage front desk with an antique bookcase behind it. A vaulted dome of 800 window panes and classic crystal chandeliers illuminate the opulent space. The majestic grand staircase breaks off into two different directions as it leads up to an equally impressive mezzanine level with sweeping views of the lobby below. Extensive use of fine oak and mahogany throughout the hotel increase the wow factor. This hotel buzzes with well-dressed patrons attending social events and business meetings, as well as people indulging in fine dining or simply experiencing the unforgettable ambiance of this historic, landmark property. 


Near downtown entertainment district, walking distance to riverfront attractions 

The Seelbach Hilton is located in downtown Louisville, adjacent to the Fourth Street Live entertainment district (a four-minute walk), which has numerous nightclubs, restaurants, and shopping. It's a six-minute walk to the Kentucky International Convention Center near the Ohio River and a 12- to 15-minute walk to the KFC Yum Center sports arena, Muhammed Ali Center, and the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. The Brown and Palace Theaters in the city’s theater district are about five minutes away on foot. Louisville Slugger Field is six minutes away by car, taxi, or free downtown shuttle. Churchill Downs, Louisville International Airport, and the Kentucky Exposition Center and Fairgrounds are 10 to 15 minutes away by car. A pharmacy is directly across the street and numerous restaurants are within a walk of five minutes or less. There are metro bus stops located throughout downtown Louisville, but it takes significantly longer to reach outlying attractions by bus.


Rooms with pedestrian decor, small bathrooms, and a variety of sizes and configurations

With a hotel that’s over 100 years old, it’s not unusual to see variations in room sizes and configurations. Such is the case with the Seelbach. Some of the Standard Kings offer plenty of space, while some of the Standard Double-Doubles are cramped, with one of the beds abutting the windows. Despite the differences in size and layout, rooms share a common, traditional decor that’s certainly not distinctive or luxurious. Rather pedestrian brown patterned carpet, cream wallpaper, brown drapes, and yellow upholstered armchairs make for a lackluster appearance. The wood headboard, leather-top desk, dresser, and nightstands are perhaps a step above standard-issue hotel furniture, but many pieces show signs of age. Each room is equipped with a flat-screen TV, a coffeemaker, an electronic safe, and bathrobes. Guests report that beds are comfortable. Bathrooms are small throughout with a tan color scheme, and some offer granite sinks with no vanity, while others have a simple white pedestal sink. All have shower/tub combos and some have a step-up entrance guests might find awkward.

Rooms on the Concierge Level include the services of a dedicated concierge and access to the Concierge Lounge, which includes a free continental breakfast, afternoon hors d’oeuvres, and an honor bar. Junior Suites have separate living room areas and second flat-screen TVs, but the bedrooms are smaller than the typical Standard King units. Suites -- such as the Seelbach Suite -- are much nicer, with hardwood floors, wood paneling, oriental rugs, and fireplaces with nice mantels. Some suites -- such as the Fitzgerald Suite -- have second bedrooms. Views are primarily the streets below and surrounding high-rise office buildings, but some face brick walls. 


Three restaurants, free downtown shuttle, concierge, and unique meeting space

Three restaurants offer various dining experiences as well as room service. Gatsby’s on Fourth serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and has children’s menus. An on-site Starbucks offers casual breakfast fare. And the fine-dining Oak Room serves dinner nightly in an opulent space with early-twentieth-century decor including dark oak wood columns. Gangster Al Capone was known to play poker in one of the restaurant’s side dining rooms. The Old Seelbach Bar has an extensive Kentucky bourbon selection and a distinctive mahogany bar. 

There's also a wedding studio and a huge amount of meeting and special event space, including the basement Rathskeller, which is adorned with arches made of world-famous Rookwood Pottery tiles. The business center has four computer stations with Internet access and connected printers. Free Wi-Fi is offered throughout the hotel. The large fitness center has various cardio and weight-training machines as well as free weights. The hotel concierge can arrange for in-room massage treatments. There is a gift shop, an ATM, and a safe deposit box at the front desk. Dry cleaning and valet laundry services are available. Pets are welcome in select rooms for a fee. On-site self and valet parking is available, and a free shuttle bus takes guests throughout downtown. 

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500 Fourth Avenue, Louisville, Kentucky 40202-2518, United States