Discover the Historic Rathskeller Room at Louisville’s Seelbach Hotel

In 1903, two Bavarian brothers named Otto and Louis Seelbach decided to open a grand hotel replete with ornate old-world craftsmanship in Louisville, Kentucky. The Seelbach Hotel was so wildly popular when it opened its doors in 1905 that the Seelbach brothers immediately started on an expansion that included an ornate Rathskeller Room—basement barroom—that featured ceramic pelicans crafted by Rookwood Pottery in Cincinnati, leather ceilings, and handcrafted clay tiles with intricate designs.

Al Capone's Seelbach Hotel Alcove

Al Capone’s Seelbach Hotel Alcove
Al Capone, probably the most legendary gangster of the 1920s, used to visit The Seelbach frequently for blackjack, poker and bootlegging. Today, you can dine in a small alcove in The Oakroom where Capone would play cards… Capone’s favorite room also has two hidden doors behind special panels, leading to secret passageways.
Photo by Flickr

The Rathskeller Room was modeled after Germany’s “council’s cellars,” which are basement bars and restaurants located in or near a city hall where officials can have important discussions over food and drink. The Seelbach’s ornate Rathskeller Room attracted luminaries such as writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, who based some of the opulent ballrooms featured in his classic novel *The Great Gatsby* on the Rathskeller Room. Notorious mobster Al Capone was also a Rathskeller Room regular. Capone allegedly used hidden passageways in the Seelbach Hotel to smuggle booze and evade law enforcement during the Prohibition era.

Rathskeller at The Seelbach Hilton in Louisville KY

Photo by Flickr

Today, the Rathskeller Room is used for special events such as conferences and weddings. The Rathskeller Room is generally closed to the general public, but if you’re a courteous, well-behaved guest, Seelbach Hotel staff members will sometimes allow you to view the space. The lavish Rathskeller Room is slightly eerie when no one else is around. Seelbach Hotel staff and guests have reported spooky happenings in the Rathskeller Room, including the sound of footsteps when the room was empty, unexplained cold spots, and apparitions appearing in the corner of the room.

The Rathskeller Room in the Seelbach Hotel is one of the finest examples of ornate old-world architecture in North America. If you’re an architecture lover, a trip to Louisville to walk beneath the exquisite vaulted ceilings of the Rathskeller Room is an absolute must.

500 S 4th St
Louisville, Kentucky
United States

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