Galt House Hotel

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- After a year of dark days and unknowns, downtown Louisville hotels and restaurants are feeling the Derby bump. 

No fans at the Kentucky Derby in 2020 meant businesses in downtown Louisville fully expected a recovery back to the somewhat normal business of the first weekend in May. In downtown Louisville, at least three hotels are sold out, and two others are near full occupancy for the weekend. More than 60% of rooms are booked.

That's a nice bump from when occupancy dipped below 10% in 2020. 

"We're fortunate also to have 1,100 rooms occupied for the next three nights," said Skip James, vice president of sales and marketing for AJS Hotels. “The staff, the guests, everybody is excited to just be a part of something happening like the Derby."

With more people in hotels, it means more people on the streets of downtown looking for food and drink. 

"We're the direct benefactor of that when things like that happen, so we're excited," said Ben Barker, general manager of Troll Pub. "I expect it to be one of the best Derby seasons we've had just in terms of business. In the area that we're in in Whiskey Row, it's become a destination for out-of-town guests."

Around 40,000 to 45,000 spectators are expected at Kentucky Derby 147

This year’s Derby is expected to have a $35 million economic impact for Louisville.

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