Unpretentious but with a love for arts, architecture and more famously being home to the first baseball team in America, the Ohio gem is underrated as a tourist destination. It’s a surprisingly hip place with a love of ethnic food, European-style neighborhoods and with a friendly, laid back atmosphere. Take a stroll around its hills, rivers and 250-year-old buildings and you’ll find some awesome places to stay too. From gorgeous boutiques to large, chic and grand, here are the best cool and unusual hotels in Cincinnati, Ohio (in no particular order)...
1. Graduate Cincinnati – a hip, trendy and very Instagrammable hotel perfect for Millennials and Gen Zs
Located in the heart of the University District; between the University of Cincinnati campus, the College of Medicine and Burnet Woods is the Graduate Cincinnati.
Somewhat dull on the outside, the inside is a riot of colour and design with an overabundance of clashing, quirky themes reminiscent of a sort of kindergarten designed by Roy Lichtenstein. It should look awful, but it feels great. A playful escape from the surrounding seriousness of academia and medical centres.
There’s a decent choice of bedrooms and suites, function rooms, meeting rooms, a handy coffee shop on the ground floor and a pleasant restaurant. One of the few hotels that’s genuinely quirky and fun, without feeling contrived.
- To book, check prices or availability for Graduate Cincinnati
2. 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati – an award-winning boutique hotel which is also home to a contemporary art museum
In the heart of historic Downtown Cincinnati, adjacent to the Contemporary Art Center and across the street from the Aronoff Center for the Arts, is the 21c Museum Hotel. (Although it’s not a museum, it’s an art exhibition space in a former Metropole Hotel.)
Despite the external appearance of a historic building, the interior is almost devoid of original features with rooms and shared spaces being neatly styled with overarching fêng shui.
There’s a modern French-Italian restaurant and bar on the ground floor and a very nice cocktail terrace on the rooftop with good views across old Cincinnati.
It’s a great location to explore the city with the added bonus of exhibitions of contemporary art when you get back to the hotel.
- To book, check prices or availability for 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati
3. Kinley Cincinnati Downtown, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel – a sophisticated and modern upscale downtown hotel
Kinley Cincinnati Downtown is a thoughtful and stylish hotel, perfectly positioned in Downtown Cincinnati just a short walk from the parks, gardens, fashionable Over The Rhine district, and many bridges across the Ohio River to Kentucky. Externally it’s smartly confident, comfortable in its surroundings, but not brash.
Internally it’s designed with supercool décor and unpretentious chic furnishings. Someone has spent a lot of time designing spaces that work, and making the utilitarian enjoyable.
There’s the usual choice of rooms and suites – the higher up, the better the views – a good restaurant on the ground floor serving local Midwest dishes, a nice coffee shop-cum-bar on the first floor and a great fitness centre. Overall, one of the best hotels in Cincinnati; a masterclass in getting it right!
- To book, check prices or availability for Kinley Cincinnati Downtown
4. The Lytle Park Hotel, Autograph Collection – a beautiful and stylish hotel housed in a 1909 building located Opposite Lytle Park
In the historic Lytle district of Downtown Cincinnati, close to the Ohio River Trail and Great American Baseball Park, sits The Lytle Park Hotel.
Separated from the hubbub of Downtown by a small park this hotel is a clever conglomeration of two old buildings using a connecting glass atrium to create interesting and refined zones.
Spacious ballrooms, quality restaurants, understated suites and guest rooms are all furnished in tasteful, contemporary chic designs to project a feeling of inspired calm.
It works brilliantly with soothing, restful tones on simple, comfortable designs. There’s a good Italian restaurant in-house, but the crown on this hotel is the very lovely rooftop bar with some great views across Cincinnati.
- To book, check prices or availability for The Lytle Park Hotel, Autograph Collection
5. The Cincinnatian Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton – an upscale design hotel housed in a historic 1882 building
Constructed in 1882, this grande dame of a hotel must once have been the finest place to be seen in Cincinnati.
Perfectly located in the heart of Downtown, on the same block as Macy’s, is this beautiful old lady, looking very Parisienne on the outside. Inside, sadly, it’s all gone; there’s barely a glimpse remaining of her heyday.
Consecutive interior designers at The Cincinnatian Hotel appear to have smothered everything, leaving a hotch-potch of styles and themes which produce a clumsy, disjointed feeling in common areas and guest rooms.
Dining feels equally as confused with a gastropub and takeaway coffee shop being all that’s on offer. However, this is a great location – so it’s easy to wander out and explore the famous foodie delights of Cincinnati.
- To book, check prices or availability for The Cincinnatian Hotel
6. Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza – an art deco style property housed in a 1931 National Historic Landmark
Located inside the landmark Carew Tower, less than 100 yards from Fountain Square, is the exquisite Hilton Netherland Plaza.
A stunningly over-the-top art deco interior crashes the senses at every turn with a sort of silver-screen elegance. In contrast, the guest rooms are calm, frankly bleak, with very simple hotel styling.
But you don’t check in here to sit in the rooms; it’s all about the incredible public spaces, the staggeringly beautiful Palm Court bar with its live jazz, pottery fountain and triple-height ceilings.
It’s about the grand stairs for a movie star entrance before a night on the town. Netherland Plaza is a historic gem in Cincinnati and a must-see. If you do check-in for a few nights, make sure to visit what must be the biggest gym ever seen in a hotel – in the basement.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza
7. Renaissance Cincinnati Downtown Hotel – a chic downtown hotel with contemporary boutique-style rooms
Located in a historic building, in the absolute heart of Downtown Cincinnati, just a short walk to everywhere in the city centre, is the Renaissance Hotel. Nicely designed to feel warm and welcoming, with plenty of deep leathery tones in the common areas and fresh, bright designs in guest rooms and suites.
There are function rooms, if you’re planning something a little grander, and warm lounge areas if you need something more intimate. Everywhere feels simple and elegant in a homely, rather than pompous way.
If you’re lucky you might get a room with a great view from some of the higher floors or you can simply wander outside and enjoy everything the city has to offer.
- To book, check prices or availability for Renaissance Cincinnati Downtown Hotel
8. Hampton Inn & Suites Cincinnati – a chic and unique Downtown hotel
Inside a grand old newspaper office building, with the most impressive entrance, you’ll see away from a palace, the Hampton Inn & Suites confusingly shares the building with Homewood Suites aparthotel.
The Hampton Inn side of the building has spacious modern rooms decorated with bold colours and furnished with sensible, but fun, pieces in a sort of European style.
Despite the grandiose entrance, it’s practical, cheerful and casual throughout. This is a get-some-sleep, breakfast, then get out-and-about type of hotel.
There’s a small fitness centre to help you wake up, but the rest is all about the great central location to seek the bars, restaurants and venues of Cincinnati.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hampton Inn & Suites Cincinnati
9. AC Hotel by Marriott Cincinnati at The Banks – a fun, sleek and trendy hotel with a cool rooftop bar
The AC Hotel is, as its name suggests, by the legendary banks of the Ohio River. With the baseball stadium in front, an NFL stadium a couple of blocks behind and a beautiful riverside park in between, this is the perfect venue for any sports fan.
It’s also just a few blocks from the centre of Downtown so a great venue for a city break too. AC Hotel by Marriott Cincinnati at The Banks is a modern hotel, styled with clean lines and statement colours exactly as you’d expect to find. It’s a considered design, maximising the space and the light to create feelings of calm with a dash of fun.
The rooms are uncluttered wood and beige ranging from small to suites. Some of the bigger rooms have balconies with views of the river if you can get one.
There’s a great little kitchen restaurant for breakfast, a tapas lounge for evenings and cocktails, and the marvellous rooftop bar with its own winter igloos and a sneaky peek at the baseball game next door.
- To book, check prices or availability for AC Hotel by Marriott Cincinnati at The Banks
10. Gaslight Bed & Breakfast, Clifton District – beautiful quirky chic accommodation in the historic gaslight district of Clifton
In the leafy Victorian suburbs, 4 miles north of Downtown Cincinnati, is the mildly eccentric Gaslight Bed & Breakfast.
An inviting traditional villa, originally constructed in 1909, perched on a small hillock with just four sumptuous guest rooms, two lounges, a lovely outdoor terrace, sauna and a small fitness room.
Everywhere is decorated in a comfortable eclectic style, not a reproduction of past times but a fresh, modern style with character and charm in abundance.
This small bed and breakfast is a great location for anyone who wants a break from bland corporate hotels. There are nature reserves and parks right outside and just a half-mile to local bars, restaurants and a retro cinema or, just a 15-minute drive to Downtown.
- To book, check prices or availability for Gaslight Bed & Breakfast, Clifton District
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My first true adventure began as a six month voyage around South East Asia as a fresh faced backpacker and ever since I’ve lived a semi nomadic existence, clocking up visits to over 40 countries. I’m a lover of US Road Trips, deserted beaches bathed in warm glow of a sunset, Cuban mojitos, travel destinations far away from the tourist crowds and all things Scandinavian – from cloudberry liquors to Nordic noirs. When not wandering the world and running Global Grasshopper, you’ll find me walking my rescued Greek street dog in leafy South West London, strolling around the Brighton Lanes on random day trips, hunting for photogenic landscapes or daydreaming about my favourite places; Havana, Copenhagen, Italy, Laos, California and the surreally beautiful landscapes of a wintry Iceland.