The history-steeped city of Cincinnati is beloved for its good manners, European-style neighborhoods and rich architecture, with buildings from the likes of Frank Gehry and Cesar Pelli. Artsy and prosperous, Cinci (as locals call it) has a wealth of theaters, art museums and music halls, and a booming culinary scene. A recent renaissance outside downtown has seen bars, coffee shops and boutique hotels pop up in formerly downtrodden areas such as Over-the-Rhine and Northside. While anonymous conference hotels still tend to dominate (albeit often in beautiful Art Deco buildings), a cluster of alternatives takes in a hip hotel in a former department store, a boutique spot that doubles as an art gallery, and a music-themed mansion. Be warned though – accommodation doesn’t come cheap. In fact, the city’s hotels have been ranked the most expensive in the Midwest.
The 10 Best Hotels in Cincinnati
An oasis of old-world elegance, The Cincinnatian has offered the classiest lodgings in town since it opened as the Palace Hotel in 1882. Over a century on, the grandeur still overwhelms from the moment you step into the towering eight-story atrium lobby, dominated by an imposing marble and walnut grand staircase. The refinement continues in recently renovated rooms boasting ornate furniture, luxurious linens and cosy fireplaces. But it’s the hotel’s gracious service and unique touches that continue to make it so special – from fresh baked cookies to complimentary travel across the city for guests in a London cab.
Conveniently located in the heart of downtown, the sleek and contemporary Westin is the cream of Cincinnati’s crop of business hotels. Guestrooms are spacious and well-appointed, with marble-floored bathrooms and dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows – try to bag a spot overlooking Fountain Square and the iconic Tyler Davidson fountain for unbeatable views. Don’t worry, blackout curtains (and the Westin’s signature Heavenly Beds) will ensure an excellent night’s sleep. Take a dip in the hotel’s indoor heated pool or, for real decadence, book an in-room spa treatment. Feeling peckish? You have a deli, gourmet seafood restaurant and upmarket after-hours lounge to choose from.
With a starry list of past residents including Winston Churchill and Elvis Presley, the Hilton offers a winning mix of historical splendor and contemporary comforts. Situated in the stunning Art Deco Carew Tower, its immaculately preserved lobby is a design fan’s dream – a colossal space filled with bas-relief sculptures, exquisite rosewood paneling and elaborate ceiling frescos. Rooms are more simply decorated, but fully equipped with modern amenities. Pick up a brochure in the lobby and take a self-guided tour of the hotel’s historic features, before dressing up for dinner at the awards-garlanded Orchids at Palm Court formal restaurant.
Cincinnati’s hippest new hotel isn’t technically in Cinci itself, but just across the Ohio River in neighboring Covington, Kentucky. Combining contemporary urban design with plenty of nostalgic touches, you can feel evidence of the property’s past as a department store throughout, from its towering ceilings to its huge window displays. Sip on a craft cocktail and mingle with the local creative classes in the lobby bar or enjoy revamped takes on southern classics like collard greens and fried catfish at in-house restaurant Coppins. If the weather’s fine, head out to the vast patio for lawn games or a film screening
This Best Western is a small conference hotel with a difference – an extraordinary Swiss Alps-meets-Tudor Revival façade that looks more Verbier than southern Ohio. The hotel dates back to 1926 and features bedrooms firmly in the mock-Tudor style, with fireplaces, oil paintings and huge TVs cheekily hidden behind roll-up tapestries. In-house restaurant The National Exemplar has been winning plaudits for its fresh take on staples like prime rib and linguine. Make sure you take time to explore the neighborhood – Mariemont’s eye-catching architecture and sense of quirkiness endure. The area even lays claim to the only elected town crier in the USA.
Appropriately located next to the Contemporary Art Center and across from the Aronoff Center for the Arts, this boutique hotel is an art gallery in itself, with rotating exhibitions covering the lobby walls, and guided art tours are on offer. The hotel’s reimagining of the 100-year-old Metropole Hotel building is credited with helping to revitalize Cincinnati’s historic centre. Rooms feature original artworks alongside neutral custom furnishings, Nespresso machines, and Malin + Goetz toiletries. Visit 21c’s buzzy roof terrace bar for kno
This inviting, personality-packed boutique hotel lies in the hip, newly regenerated neighborhood of Over the Rhine, originally home to the city’s German immigrant population. The restored 1871 mansion has a strong musical history – it was used for music lessons and as a boarding house for musicians over the years – and the celebrated Cincinnati Music Hall is just over the road. Nine decadently decorated rooms are themed around great composers, from Mozart to Mahler, and all include plush bathrobes and complimentary daily snacks. Jazz fans should head to the lounge for seasonal cocktails and electrifying live performances three nights a week.
One of the newest hotels on the Cinci scene, the Renaissance opened in 2014 in the neoclassical Bartlett Building, formerly home to a bank. There’s a definite focus on conferences in the hotel; historic Burnham Hall has space for a whopping 700 guests. Yet warm service and a cosmopolitan clientele stop the place feeling impersonal. Generously proportioned rooms have a modern, Pop Art-flecked aesthetic and include ergonomic workspaces and roomy bathrooms with posh Aveda toiletries. Stylish in-house restaurant D Burnham’s is named after the building’s architect – don’t miss the incredibly tasty signature burger bearing his name.
A contemporary spin on the classic B&B, this inn is ideal if you’re after a more intimate place to stay. It lies on a quiet, residential street in the historic neighborhood of Hyde Park, which is packed with great eateries and trendy boutiques. Every detail has been considered to help visitors feel right at home, from phone chargers by the bed to a well-stocked self-serve coffee bar. Rooms are beautifully decorated in calming deep blues and greys, with polished hardwood floors and sparklingly clean en suites. Guests rave about the lovingly prepared breakfast of fresh pastries and organic treats.
Spread over (unsurprisingly!) six acres in a serene spot 15 minutes from downtown Cincinnati, this B&B is a fascinating place to spend a night on your way in or out of town. The striking buttercup yellow property lies in the diverse suburb of College Hill, and has a truly remarkable past. Originally built by Quaker abolitionist Zebulon Strong in the 1850s, it was used to hide fugitive slaves as part of the Underground Railroad. You’ll find the current owners’ passion for (and knowledge of) the house and its history infectious – as you will their warmth. Sunny guestrooms have large, comfortable beds with soft sheets and private baths.