Plan an Overnighter in Louisville

Apr 5, 2019 | Travel

Sit down in the dining room with the record-shaped tables and large selection of albums to choose from to set the mood.

Crosley turntables, bourbon, and horse racing. These are a few of the themes indigenous to the River City you will see throughout Guesthouse on Story, a seven bedroom rental concept in the heart of Butchertown that celebrates everything awesome about our hometown.

As you enter the completely renovated 5,000 square-foot space, you are reminded why Forbes deemed Louisville one of America’s coolest cities. Throughout the vibrant, festive space, bins of records wait to be spun on the 12 colorful Crosley record players that adorn each room. Three giant record-shaped tables line the dining room, and pictures of Louisville neighborhoods, famous Louisville natives, and loads of album covers line the walls. This is a place to have an unforgettable party–and your hosts Kim and Kate Lesak (sisters and business partners) have painstakingly cultivated an environment of fun.

Sisters Kim and Kate Lesak decided to take a gamble and invest in a 5,000-square-foot building to create an upscale boutique hotel.

Kim says the concept was a bit of a gamble, but she and her sister willingly placed their bets on the property they purchased in 2015 for $50 a square foot. The bones of the building were solid, but the sisters needed to turn the work/live structure they purchased into an upscale hostel-style boutique vacation rental. The first thing they realized was that every room was going to need it’s own bathroom–no one likes sharing.

“We knew that adding all the plumbing was going to be costly, so we went in with plan A, B, and C. Our worst-case scenario was that we would sell our own homes and move in together,” Kim says in hindsight. “But here we are on year three! We’ve been written up in Money Magazine and have hosted people from all over the country.”

The sisters have both kept their day-jobs, but take turns fulfilling the business’s needs. “We are always cleaning and painting and answering emails,” Kim says as her daughter listens from the other room. She sits at the record-shaped table, drawing, and chimes in about the details of the house with confidence, evidence that she’s spent a lot of time here working alongside her mother.

The Guesthouse on Story rents single rooms Sunday through Wednesday and the whole house Thursday through Saturday. Tailoring to a niche market of the 10+ crowd, their typical local renters use the space for reunions, girls’ nights out, and wedding parties. In addition, much of their business comes from out-of-towners visiting Louisville for concerts, the Derby, and of course, the bourbon trail.

“My biggest surprise was the amount of people that come through to experience the bourbon trail. I would say that is about 90% of our clientele,” Kim explains while walking me through the vast three-story space. Kentucky’s 8.5 billion dollar bourbon industry has been acclaimed to be the next Napa by some, and many industries, such as the boutique hotel industry, are riding the wave.  

Tourists (and locals alike) flock to this space, with its proximity to restaurants and downtown, because of its festive ambiance and celebration of everything Louisville. Each bedroom that Kim showed me celebrated something native. There is the bourbon room (a favorite), with a king-sized bed adorned with an ornate headboard, Work the Metal horse pictures, bourbon glasses, and a shower that makes you feel you are inside a bourbon barrel. There’s a Hunter S. Thompson bedroom and a Muhammad Ali-inspired room complete with posters of the Louisville Lip and a pair of boxing gloves. You can stay in the Derby Room with two-queen beds and framed Derby photograph and vintage Derby ticket stubs, or The Bluegrass Room that pays homage to the local bluegrass music scene. On the third floor, families can rent the Jockey Suite that boasts four beds joined by a Jack-and-Jill bathroom, an antique saddle and exposed barn-style beams. Each room is equipped with bed, bathroom, and fleur-de-lis hooks, and of course, a Crosley record player. Whether renting a room or the entire house, guests can hang out in the third-floor reading nook or the second-floor common area (although, Kim says guests tend to congregate in the fully-equipped kitchen).

It may have been a long-shot, but Kim and Kate have hit the trifecta on this local vacation rental. The combination of an eclectic style,  a love of Louisville, and a synergistic-sister partnership (Kate is good with a screwdriver and knows real estate law; Kim is business-minded and creative), is exactly what makes the Guesthouse on Story a winning formula.

Extra tidbit: A hotel that marries beauty with function.