In 1883 immigrant brothers from Bavaria, Louis and Otto Seelbach came to America with a dream, to bring a touch of the old world to the new, The European Seelbach Hotel was realized.

The Seelbach is a crown jewel among the great historical hotels of the United States of America.

Located in Louisville Kentucky, a port town on the banks of the Ohio River where Southern and Northern cultures intertwine.

The Seelbach has witnessed the changes of time and tide and continues to be the premier hotel where high society rubs shoulders with Presidents and Kings, a legendary wedding destination and is a proud host to The Run for the Roses, The Kentucky Derby.

Louis and Otto would be proud to know that even today, The Seelbach, Louisville’s Grand Hotel is an icon of hospitality and a synonym for excellence!

Welcome to the Seelbach, Louisville’s Grand Hotel, where you become a part of history.

Seelbach Timeline


Louis comes to Louisville, Kentucky, USA

Louis Seelbach travels to Louisville from Bavaria to learn the hotel business, working at Louisville's most prominent hotels.

After five years of hard work, Louis opens Seelbach's Restaurant and Café at 10th and Main Street. The exclusive gentlemen's club becomes an instant success with Louisville's businessmen.

The first Run for the Roses, the Kentucky Derby is held.

Louis' restaurant is reputed to have the best dining in Louisville, such a success, he relocates to larger quarters at Sixth and Main Street.  Louis' younger brother, Otto, 22 at the time, moves from Bavaria, and together they form The Seelbach Hotel Company.

The hotel's success brings increased demand and the brothers add 10 rooms to their hotel.

The Seelbach is closed for major renovation into a European-style hotel. The hotel remains closed for eight years while adding such innovations as building-wide cooling. This feat is accomplished by setting pipes into the walls that were then filled with 55-degree water from a nearby ice plant.

The completely remodeled Seelbach reopens and the brothers enjoy another immediate success. Women are admitted for the first time, although the hotel continues to maintain a gentlemen-only Union Club on the top floor of the hotel, complete with dark wood décor, leather chairs and a private dining room. The European Seelbach was sold and became known as The Louisville Inn.

The Seelbach Realty Company is formed to build the brothers' dream hotel from the ground up. Local investors join the brothers to build their hotel at the corner of Fourth and Walnut (now Muhammad Ali Boulevard).

Construction of the new hotel begins in December. The brothers spare no expense -- expensive imports include marble from all over the world, bronzes from France, hardwoods from the West Indies and Europe, linens from Ireland, and valuable Turkish and Persian rugs. Huge murals of pioneer scenes, painted by Arthur Thomas of New York, grace the grand lobby walls. And, the Mezzanine now features such innovations as long-distance telephone booths and public stenographers.

In addition to a Gentlemen's Private Dining Area -- complete with Italian-leather wall coverings, settees and Flemish-oak furniture -- the hotel opens a Ladies Private Dining Room and a Ladies Parlor with Louis XVI silk damask. In the end, the cost of the new hotel totals $950,000, an unheard-of sum in Louisville at that time.

The Great Flood strikes Louisville in January. Thanks to the hotel's emergency generators and private wells, it continues to operate.

The hotel opens The Plantation Room nightclub in November, in a space formerly rented from the hotel by a drugstore. The nightclub features a 25-foot wide diorama.

Democratic candidate for governor Earle Clements uses room 743 to plan his successful election strategies. His election causes others to use the room through 1971, believing it to be lucky. Also, the hotel's innovative steam-powered, air-conditioning system is installed.

Exterior remodeling adds a new granite face to the First Floor, eliminates one of two Fourth Street entrances and adds a Walnut Street entrance.

The hotel opens a coffee shop with a balcony dining room in May, replacing the Corner Club Bar.

Zack Jacoby, who has lived in The Seelbach since it opened, moves out and into a nursing home.

The refurbished Rathskeller reopens as a popular first-run dinner theatre.

The Royal Bank and Trust takes over the old coffee shop in a "rental steal" that gains them a prime location.

The Seelbach becomes one of only 40 hotels worldwide to be selected by the prestigious Preferred Hotels Association.

The Oakroom Restaurant Reopens
The famed Oakroom undergoes renovations and reopens with its sights on the prestigious AAA 5 Diamond Award.

Meristar Hotels and Resorts purchases The Seelbach and begins a $10 million restoration project on all guest rooms. Sister properties include Hilton's Palmer House in Chicago and the Waldorf-Astoria in New York.

The Oakroom receives AAA's distinguished Five Diamond designation.

The Oakroom is entered into the Fine Dining Hall of Fame by Nation's Restaurant News.

Present Day