International Influence with Local Appeal

AC Hotel opens in NuLu

Story by Mariah Kline

Photos by Kathryn Harrington

For the last few years, NuLu has been labeled an “up and coming” area. With the extensive number of restaurants, shops and galleries that have popped up, however, it’s safe to say the East Market Street district has arrived. On May 2, the thriving neighborhood welcomed its latest addition: the AC Hotel Louisville Downtown, part of the Marriott company.

The AC franchise was started by Spanish businessman Antonio Catalan (hence the name AC) in the late 1990s. The hotels quickly took off in Europe, and soon American-owned Marriott caught wind of their success. AC partnered with Marriott to bring the chain to the US and opened their first collaboration in New Orleans. While they’ve made their way to the states, the brand has maintained its European origins through its style of both decor and hospitality.

“The style is very sleek and modern,” explains Jill Klus, director of sales for the hotel. “It’s timeless and it’s not trendy to where it’ll have to be changed every two years.

“The lobby area is all open and that speaks to the kind of European feel,” she continues. “They feel it’s very important to be able to congregate and connect with each other or connect with co-workers while doing business. AC doesn’t want guests to feel like you only have to stay in your room; they can be out and interacting with each other, community style.”

The design of the building’s lobby lends itself to this open and fellowship-driven feeling. The entrance is right off of the street and the vast, floor-to-ceiling windows allow you to feel that you’re right in the neighborhood rather than retreating from it.

In keeping with the community-oriented vibe, the choice to break ground in NuLu was a simple one.

“With the AC brand, they like to be part of the neighborhood,” Klus explains. “It’s a unique brand and NuLu is a unique neighborhood, so it’s a perfect match.”

The menus of the AC Kitchen and AC Lounge have European-inspired traditions – tapas with Spanish flair and freshly sliced meats and cheeses for breakfast – and actual European arrivals, including Spanish wine and croissants flown in from France. Of course, they’re not forgetting what this city has to offer; the bar will serve local microbrews and locally-distilled spirits.

As part of their decor, they’ve partnered with Louisville Visual Arts (LVA) to bring in installations from Louisville artists for the lobby and its adjacent gallery room. The art will rotate out every six months, giving an endless number of artists the chance to have their work displayed. The hotel will be included as a stop on the First Friday Trolley Hop, so locals will have one more destination in which to stop and admire local talent.

While they’ve made the hotel’s atmosphere welcoming and accessible, the staff at the AC is most excited to see guests explore NuLu and take in all that Louisville has to offer.

“We want people to come stay with us, but then we want them to get out and enjoy the restaurants and shops all down this street,” says Klus. “That’s our aim: let’s get people out, not stuck in a hotel room.” VT