Head to Cleveland, and you’ll find a happening place, particularly July 18-21 when the GOP comes to town for the Republican National Convention. Some may say, “Why Cleveland?” I say, “Why not?”
Over the past few years, Cleveland’s developed more pep in its step. For years the city sagged after the car and steel industries downsized. Downtown, where the Republican National Convention will take place at Quicken Loans Arena, referred to as “The Q” by locals, has seen a revitalization. Along with the Gateway Sports Complex where “The Q” is located, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Great Lakes Science Center and Playhouse Square are tourist draws within minutes of each other.
If you’re looking for a room during the convention, lots of luck. Although, with 19 hotels (about 5,000 rooms) within a 15 minute walk of Quicken Loans Arena tapped for places for delegates and the national and international media (estimated 15,000 people), and 11,000 other rooms in hotels as far away as a 30 minute drive, there could be a vacancy. Not all hotels have designated all their rooms to the convention hoopla.
Although, the downtown DoubleTree Lakeside is booked with convention goers, Wyndham at Playhouse Square has 10% of their inventory open to others. At this hotel, however, you’ll be competing with people who come to town for the Cleveland Clinic, one of the hotel’s corporate partners.
The scope of options can suit anyone’s tastes whether one is looking for luxury or no-fuss comfort. I’ve stayed in several at either end of the budget spectrum.
For close to the action, and within walking distance of Quicken Loans Arena consider a hotels steeped in Cleveland history.
The Renaissance Hotel, built in 1918 is Beaux Arts grandness that captures the essence of Cleveland’s early days as an economic powerhouse. This Marriott owned property combines the original ornate essence with modern day comfort and luxury, and is where to stay to get to Quicken Loans Arena without going outside. Just head through the connected Terminal Towers (Cleveland’s first skyscraper), through Tower City, the indoor mall to the walkway that heads to the arena. Sweet!
Down Euclid Ave., also within a quick walk to “The Q” are two other historic hotel properties. The Holiday Inn Express is housed in what was the Guardian Bank Building. The building on the National Register of Historic Places was built in 1894. Some of the original bank details were kept for visual interest, but the rooms are totally modern and spacious. Guest room ceilings are 13 feet high and the natural wood flooring adds to the sleekness. The free hot breakfast is a perk that adds to the value of this option.
The Hyatt Regency is located in the grand and visually stunning Arcade. Opened in 1890, this Victorian era building is actually two buildings connected by a 5-story arcade with glass skylights. One of the first shopping centers in the United States, The Arcade is worth a look. The Hyatt Regency, opened in 2000 is another example of how modern beautifully mixes with history if done well. This hotel is done well and also a short walk to “The Q.”
For modern sleek and swank, there’s the Westin Cleveland Downtown, which has a terrific views of Lake Erie and Cleveland’s cityscape. Opened in 2014, this 484 guest room hotel has a unique relationship with the LAND studio, a Cleveland-based non-profit with a purpose to connect local artists with urban redevelopment projects. The relationship has put more than 1,500 pieces of art in the hotel.
Located on 9th Ave. about an equal distance between the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and “The Q”, the Hampton Inn is one of the least expensive of downtown Cleveland offerings. Its free hot breakfast is another plus.
Since, honestly, booking a hotel in downtown Cleveland during the convention is probably a pipe dream, there are other hotels within a short drive away, as in twenty minutes or less, where you might find a room and be able to be a part of the convention action by hopping on the RTA, Cleveland’s commuter train that will take you Tower City .
The Cleveland Airport Marriott, stylish, friendly and laid-back, has wedding party gatherings down to a fine art which I imagine will translate to helping out-of-towners make it to the political gatherings downtown. The RTA has a stop near this hotel. Don’t get bogged down in Cleveland traffic if you don’t have to. The convention is bringing people in droves so I imagine traffic will have nightmare potential.
Located on airport property, the Sheraton’s bar is a people magnet. While you enjoy a libation, try your hand at chess or pool. These games are a Sheraton perk. Also, both the Marriott and the Sheraton have a fitness center and an indoor swimming pool for R&R in between the politicking.
Of course, you can check for availability at each hotel, but check out Hotels.com, Priceline or Travelocity to see multiple rates and availability in one place. If people cancel, opportunities for a deal could open up. Then once this particular event is over, it’s doubtful there will be another one anywhere close to this size. So then you can use this as a guide to the best convention hotels in Cleveland.
Post and photos by Midwest resident travel expert Jamie Rhein.