by Katy Koontz
The Galt House Hotel is not only the largest hotel in the state, but it’s also the only full-service waterfront hotel in the city. Located right downtown, it’s within walking distance of most attractions — not to mention a ton of restaurants and shops. The Galt’s imposing 1,290 rooms (in two separate towers connected by a glass bridge) include a whopping 650 suites. All rooms have free Wi-Fi and cable TV with premium channels, and many have great views of the city and the river. Waterfront balcony rooms offer a splendid view, and the executive suites all come with refrigerators (and lots of space). The Galt also offers extended-stay apartments. Access to the private concierge-level lounge (called the Triple Crown Club) comes with selected rooms on the 14th, 15th, and 16th floors of the Suite Tower; the lounge offers a wide-screen TV, but no complimentary drinks or snacks.
The Galt houses six restaurants, including the fancy Rivue Restaurant (one of the best restaurants in town), Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse (serving steak, seafood, and sushi with live entertainment), Cafe Magnolia (a more casual, family-friendly eatery open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily), and Thelma’s (a 24-hour deli serving coffee, sandwiches, and salads). The hotel also boasts a state-of-the-art rooftop fitness center (available for a small fee, or free for those in Triple Crown Club rooms), a spa-salon, valet parking, and an outdoor pool with a waterfront view.
Our Editor Loves
- Walking distance to most area attractions
- Six onsite restaurants
- Outdoor pool with a waterfront view
Disappointed that when I made my reservation where room in the West tower I was not informed that the lobby area in the West tower what's under construction and was not open had to cross the street to fulfill my reservation come back and work around the construction area be able to get to my room
First, the hotel is undergoing a renovation. It will, I am sure, be much better post-renovation than now. However, the experience during the renovation is very bad, and there are some larger problems with the hotel.
The room was not just dated but shabby. Stains everywhere, including the marble countertops; rusty/mildewed corners in the shower; dust on the surfaces. Room was huge, which was nice, but the layout meant there was no natural light in the suite section (and the overhead light was very dim). This was fine, as the couch sagged and the tv was tiny, so we spent almost no time there. Very few plugs. A clock that didn't keep time. Out-of-order elevator. Broken/missing vending machines and ice machines. Huge shower with tiny shower-head. Etc.
The beds were lumpy and the sheets were scratchy. Oddly, I still wished there were more, because the room was freezing (and there was no duvet, only a small waffle blanket between two sheets, and no extras in the closet). You had to set it to 80 to get any heat going at all. This was important as there weren't any bathrobes, so you had to rely on wearing extra pjs not to freeze at night.
The renovation itself was very disruptive. It ran 8-5.30 every weekday and Saturday. Yes, it started at 8 am on a Saturday, waking up my family. Banging and sawing and drilling and all sorts.
The room service was very poor (something that won't necessarily be helped by the renovation). I ordered a rare steak. They sent a medium-well and a butter knife to cut it. (Not kidding.) I ordered for two people. They sent one water glass. Sides came without the requested sauces. Beer delivered in a non-screwcap bottle without an opener. (Had to open with said butter knife.) Genuinely a disaster, and an expensive one at over $100 for the dinner; to be fair, this included starters, mains, and a drink. I can recommend the salads, which were good, as was the beer selection and the wings.
The good news: the new restaurant is lovely, which gives hope for the future. Service was charming if slow; food was quite good. The hotel has most things you'd need; in fact, you really never need to leave if you're there for a conference. Plenty of parking. And the front desk was very kind. The towels are good, even though the sheets are awful.
But that was really it. I have rarely had a less happy stay: the whole thing was just straight-up depressing.
My husband turned to me at the end of the stay and said "this has been the motel of hotels." I love a hotel, and I'm usually very kind about accidents and incidents, but he's absolutely right. Not everything is the Ritz, nor does it need to be, but I'd far prefer to stay in a Holiday Inn Express than the current incarnation of the Galt, especially at the very high price point (with tax, over $200 a night for a shabby and uncomfortable stay).