Posted by: wrmcnutt | April 21, 2009

Hotel Review – Galt House

In fairness, I should include the disclaimer that I am staying at the Galt House strictly as a conference participant, and not as a meeting planner, organizer, or staff member, so my impressions are entirely from the point of view of someone easily inconvenienced. The Galt House is a massive pile on the banks of the Ohio River in Lexington, Kentucky.  I’m here for a professional meeting, but as luck would have it, I’m here for the “Thunder Over Louisville” or “Kentucky Thunder” event.  This is, to judge from the hype, a fireworks spectacular that is going to explode more ordnance than the assault on Corrigedor.  It’s also Derby Week, and insane time to be in Louisville, unless you plan to attend the Kentucky Derby.  All I’m sure of at this point is that if you are here the night of the Grand Derby Ball, your hotel rates are going to go up like goverment spending during the Obama administration.

As I said, the Galt house is a massive pile, and that’s a little at odds with the image that the term “house” brings to mind.  My mind, at least.  To me, a house ought to be a small or medium-sized building that evokes feelings of comfort and safety.  This “house” is made of two rebar-reinforced towers twenty five stories tall, and connected with a walkway across a wide street that leads to the river.  There’s a tiny mall with a photography store, barber shop, and liquor store in the basement, and you could lose the entire city of Cleveland in the parking garage.

Galt House  suffers from all of the features and flaws that any big convention hotel has. On the one hand, they have everything here you could imagine wanting for a meeting.  On the other hand, you have to sell a kidney to pay for it.  For what they want to charge for a folding easel and pad of giant notepaper, I could hard wire the room for Ethernet and subscribe to cable modem service for a year.  (Twenty Cents a page for a printout at the business center, and thiry cents a minute for computer use in the business center. That’s not a revenue stream, its piracy! And we won’t even talk about what they want for video projector.  For two rentals, I could own one.) It’s got to be three-quarters of a mile from my car in the garage to the meeting rooms where I need my equipment.  Coffee is two dollars a cup.  The food is well prepared, tasty, and only slightly more expensive than the cuisine Disney World.

My room is sufficiently spacious to house two queen-sized beds, TV, work desk, and bay window, with enough floor space left to pace when you need to find the right phrasing for your blog. The furniture is attractive, in an vague early American style that’s sufficiently neutral as to avoid any stain of “character” or individuality.  The TV is an old tube model, and not HD, but there are sufficient channels such that, if I had any time, I could waste it just fine.

The bathrooms are a hair small, and nothing to blog about, but that just makes them the same as any giant convention/conference hotel.

Where I have my real complaints is where they so often are at convention hotels: the elevators.  The Galt is two massive buildings.  My room is in the Rivue Tower. As near as I can tell, there are four elevators in the lobby intended to serve six hundred rooms.  My normal wait for an elevator is ten minutes.  When there’s something big happening, like check-in, it’s fourty.  Mind you, once I’m aboard, the elevator seems to get where it’s going promptly.  But there are only four of them in my building, so wear comfortable shoes.

The room was clean and the daily maid service is competent and timely.  The bathroom has the usual smarmy, self-serving note to the environmentally conscious.  I refer, of course, to the plea to save the planet by using your towel more than once, thus not using all that energy, water, and Gaia-destroying soap.  While it may be true that for every towel you wash, the heat-death of the universe comes a little sooner. That’s not why they want you to re-use your dirty towels.  Washing towels costs money, and they haven’t found a way to get away with billing you for each towel you use.  So using a fresh towel daily cuts into their profit margin.

Did I mention that there aren’t enough elevators?  My last ride, I saw a glacier go by.  That’s not fair.  Once you get ON the elevators, they are plenty fast.  The problem is the epic wait.  When I’m encumbered with piles of tech gear and can’t hit the ejection level and make for the stairs, I’ve clocked waits as long as 40 minutes.

The decor in the public areas all vary on a mix of burgundy and and antique brass.  On the whole, the impression is one of quiet competence, when there is any impression at all.  The Galt’s decor seems to have been deliberately chosen for aesthentic neutrality. For the most part, the interior of Galt House manages to be an utterly forgettable architectural and cultural experience. 

In the end, I am forced to conclude that, if you are planning a giant convention or any other kind of meeting that requires enough rooms for a small to medium-sized southern town, Galt House is perfectly adequeate for the job.  It’s convenient to the riverfront, convenient to the interstate, and convenient to the 4th Street entertainment district.  It has all the amenities of a giant convention hotel, and they are competently administered. 

But this is no place to come on vacation.  It has all the character and charm of a corporate working lunch.

I give Galt House

Three Comfy Beds for Service

Four Comfy Beds for Amenities

And One Comfy Bed for Atmosphere.

That’s 2.6 Comfy Beds overall

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  1. Thanks for the review. My boss will be staying there next week for a conference. I think they will only be there one night, so atmosphere is not a necessity. However, the distance between vehicle and room, as well as the long elevator waits, are definitely things they will need to know.

    • To be fair, now that Thunder is over and COABE is about 1/3 departed, the elevator waits aren’t nearly as bad.

    • You may wish to check tomorrow’s post, a review of the Rivue restaurant at Galt House.


  2. […] – The Rivue at Galt House By wrmcnutt Some of you may recall that I gave the Galt House a less than stellar review.  As a giant convention hotel, it is fine, if rapaciously expensive, but it’s no place to go […]

  3. I found the headboards annoying – very pretty to look at, but almost impossible to sit up in bed and read, chat, or feed your kid a bottle comfortably. – all fancy cut outs and turned dood dads that poked me in the back of the head quite sharply often.

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