Cool Derby Hotels: Bet On It

Events / Travel

French Lick Resort provides spacious rooms for its guests (Photo by French Lick Resort)

With two-star motel rates running north of $500 in Louisville, I figured it’d be worth profiling a few area hotels that have affordable accommodations and occupancy (at publication) for those of you who are tossing around the idea of a last minute trip to the Kentucky Derby.

Win: Hillside Inn

The Rate: $109

The Lowdown: This spot is an absolute steal, if you’re willing and able to make the one-hour drive to Churchill. Located on the banks of the Ohio River in the sleepy town of Madison, Ind., the Hillside Inn is another sappy, throwback hotel that seems to be a recurring theme in this series.

According to management, the legendary Dean Martin once spent the night here. Now, why does this matter? Martin recorded the incredible gambling love song “Who’s Got the Action,” which should be a staple on any horseplayer’s playlist.


Place: French Lick Resort

The Rate: $259

The Lowdown: French Lick, Ind. is often heralded as the home of hoops legend Larry Bird, but this resort cleans up nicely and is the perfect fit for those with a more upscale taste. Refined, yet outdoorsy is the best way to describe it. Nestled in the Hoosier National Forest, you’re definitely going to get a little Southern charm here.

The commute to Churchill Downs will run you about an hour and a half each way, so it’s a bit of a trek. French Lick sits between Louisville and Indianapolis, Ind. so you can save some coin by flying in and out of Indy. Use that extra savings to bolster your bankroll for the outing.

Show: Breckenridge Inn

The Rate: $250

The Lowdown: With the Breckinridge Inn, you’re paying a steep premium for ho-hum accommodations. The kicker here is that compared to the previous two landing spots, you’re located in Louisville proper and your drive to Churchill will be cake.

The Inn features a Thoroughbred and bugler atop its entrance, so you’ll be in Derby spirit in no time.  

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