Like the mythological Egyptian bird Phoenix, two historic buildings, rising from the ashes of their
burned-out past, have emerged in the form of two new hotels. Like the bird that is associated
with creation and renewal, the two hotels…in two cities…in two adjacent states separated by one
river… have gotten rave reviews and awards since their rebirth.
LYTLE PARK HOTEL: Overlooking the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati’s Lytle Park
Historic District, the Lytle Park Hotel is the result of a creative design that magically melded two
obsolete historic buildings with a historic park that traces its history back to 1789 when it was
the site of Fort Washington.
The hotel takes its name from the boutique Lytle Park, a verdant oasis smack-dab in the middle
of the urban renaissance that is ongoing in downtown Cincinnati’s Central Business District. An
11-foot bronze statue of a rugged, beardless Abraham Lincoln, has been a resident of Lytle Park
since March 31, 1917. The statue was commissioned by Charles Phelps Taft, the brother of
President William Howard Taft. Lytle Park, and its namesake hotel, are directly across the street
from the Taft Museum. A former home of Charles P. Taft, this small art museum is one of the
finest in the country.
The Lytle Park Hotel was born in 1909 as the Anna Louise Inn, a five-story building on a site of
land donated by Charles P. Taft. Named after Taft’s daughter, it was a suitable home and safe
refuge for young girls (earning less than $10 a week) who came to work in the booming big city.
The great demand for one of the 120 single rooms at the inn prompted the Tafts to donate some
adjacent property and $128,000 to construct a much needed addition to the inn. It was
completed in 1920.
In 2014, after Anna Louise Inn’s remaining residents moved to a modern newly constructed
building, plans got underway to merge the two historical buildings into one completely new
hotel. Both buildings were totally gutted, leaving only the 100+ year-old facades. Six years, and
millions of dollars later the Lytle Park Hotel officially opened in March 2020. Welcomed by an
affable doorman, guests enter into a splendid light-filled lobby ablaze with sparkling trees and
teardrop lighting dripping down over a lively lobby bar.
Subito, the hotel’s casually sophisticated restaurant, offers Northern Italian cuisine with an air of
European elegance. The Northern Italian cuisine includes homemade pastas, scratch-made
sauces, seared steaks finished in an infrared broiler, brick oven pizzas, a raw bar and fresh
seafood. For starters, try a shareable plate of Carpaccio, marinated in red grilled frisée (a frilly
lettuce), beef tallow marmalade and an amazing agrodolce sauce…a magical meld of reduced
honey or sugar, vinegar, pine nuts, and a mixture of dried fruits and veggies, such as golden
raisins, red onion, or currants. You very well might order a second one.
Adjacent to Subito is the lively Lobby Bar, a chic spot to enjoy hand crafted cocktails, craft beer
and an extensive wine list. With its open layout, fireplace and classic piano, it is a cozy spot to
enjoy that heavenly hamburger you’ve been craving.
Vista, the rooftop bar at Lytle Park Hotel offers sweeping views of Lytle Park and downtown
Cincinnati. With its retracting glass roof and folding side walls, Vista is a year-round,
While you’re on the 6th floor, drinking in the view (and the spirits) from Vista, take a turn down
the hallway towards the restrooms. You’ll find yourself in a verdant crystal-lit forest.
Travel + Leisure’s 2022 World’s Best Awards recognized the Lytle Park Hotel as one of the best
hotels in the world. It placed number 71 among the Top 100 Hotels in the World, and number 5
among the top 15 City Hotels in the Continental United States.
HOTEL COVINGTON: From this Kentucky hotel, it is only a 15-minute walk, to the Ohio
River bridge that connects Covington, Kentucky to downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Kentucky has
always claimed to be the state of “good whiskey, beautiful women and fast horses”. Therefore,
it’s little wonder that the Hotel Covington began with a horse race.
With big winnings and big dreams, John Coppin built Coppin Department Store, a high-end
department store that was born from Coppin’s bet on a long-shot…a horse named Knowledge.
When Coppin’s original dry goods store was relocated on Madison Avenue in 1907, it was a
marvel of modern architecture…the first reinforced concrete skyscraper in the Commonwealth of
Kentucky. The newly-named Coppin Department Store flourished for approximately seven
decades until urban sprawl took its toll. After falling into disrepair during the next decade, the
Coppin Department Store rose from its ashes and was reborn in 2016 as Hotel Covington.
Hotel Covington is a small luxury boutique hotel (114 guest rooms) that has built upon its history
and preserved the architectural elements that celebrate its former glory. The dapper, large
corner Knowledge Suite is named after Coppin’s winning horse Knowledge who was the start of it all.
Coppin’s Restaurant + Bar, the hotel’s gathering spot named after John Coppin, features
signature cocktails and a rotating seasonal menu in a vast open dining space and lounge.
Coppin’s lucky long-shot horse Knowledge also pops up on the bar’s craft cocktail menu. “Liquid
Knowledge” is a blend of Four Roses single barrel, ginger, lime, soda water and Jamaican #1
bitters. Weather permitting, food and beverages are also served on the restaurant’s delightful
outdoor patio. First-come…first-served…no reservations taken for the patio.
In its 2022 Best Hotel Ratings in the United States, U.S. News and World Report ranked Hotel
Covington the number one hotel in all of Kentucky, and number 201 in the whole country. Lytle
Park Hotel and Hotel Covington, the dynamic duo on the north and south sides of the Ohio
River, have successfully burned their past lives and have triumphantly risen from their ashes.
Photo Credits: Janet Steinberg
Janet Steinberg, winner of 55 national travel-writing awards resides in Cincinnati but
calls the world her home.