To be in the center of where Columbus, Ohio happens, head to Hilton Columbus Downtown. Here’s where art, great food and a parade of people– from girls and their coaches with volley ball paraphernalia to those in clad elegant wedding attire, convene in a mix of modern sophistication and a laid back vibe.
Located on High St. across from the convention center and close to the Arena District where the Blue Jackets ice-hockey team and the Clippers baseball team play, Hilton Columbus Downtown is a natural sports fan magnet. But, it’s also within walking distance of the Short North, the city’s hot spot of galleries, boutiques, bars, craft breweries and restaurants that have put Columbus on the map of worth the visit notables.
Ohio State University is just blocks away in one direction. And the science museum, the Columbus Museum of Art, the state capital building, and several beautifully restored historic theaters are a few blocks in the other. It’s no wonder that the four nights I spent at the Hilton was a time for people watching and feeling like I was in an energetic hub of possibilities.
The staff, who are plentiful enough that no one waits long for assistance– whether you’re checking in, ordering a drink at the bar, or looking for the parking garage and need directions, are a combination of professional, friendly and relaxed.
No matter where staff were stationed, all seemed to enjoy interacting with guests who are everywhere. I never saw an area, but my room, that didn’t have someone else there. Instead of seeming crowded, the Hilton’s expansive design of guest rooms that circle and fan out from a central atrium gives enough space for intimate to group gathering spots. I did witness one rowdy group politely and effectively being asked to quiet down.
Guest rooms either give a view of the atrium or a street view of the outside. Although my room on the 6th floor had an atrium view, the lights from the balcony hallways, guest rooms, the restaurant, the bar and the common areas below gave an effect that reminded me of fireflies that stay lit. Magical and artsy in a way.
My room, with its king-sized bed was large enough for two people to feel comfortable and had everything I needed for a multiple day stay. The LCD 42 inch TV with a jazzy system of changing channels, a coffee maker with the ability to make one cup or two at the same time, the refrigerator, the hair dryer, and the iron and ironing board were all used. The desk was perfect as a work station although I spent more time outside the room than within. For those without a laptop, the business center incorporated into the common area on the 2nd floor has several computers for guest use.
Although the Gallerie Bar is geared for adults, children accompanied by adults are welcome. If you do order drinks, check on the price–I was surprised by the cost of my glass of wine, but I blithely ordered without thinking.
The bar’s menu includes in-house made Ohio Chicken Sausage appetizer, with mushroom ragout, pickled red onion, bone marrow aioli, brioche that I highly recommend. Like the bar, the Gallerie Bistro menu highlights Ohio’s farm-to-table bounty. Under the tutelage of Executive Chef Bill Glover, each plate is a lovely mix of texture, colors and taste. For those more on the go and in a more casual mood, there’s the Coffee Bar.
Whether you head to the pool, spend some time in the fitness center, hang out on a comfortable couch in a common area or spend more time in your room, do take in the Hilton’s extensive art collection. The artists are local artists whose work ranges from Aminah Robinson’s magnificent textile mural above the reception desk to contemporary art that captures Columbus’s downtown highlights. Robinson won a MacArther Genius grant several years ago and is a beloved Columbus figure. She passed away last year at the age of 75, leaving behind a legacy of prominent work.
The only drawback to the Columbus Downtown Hilton is the parking. Parking is $20 for park yourself with in and out privileges. Because the parking garage was built before the hotel, the garage is not connected and depending upon where you find a space, it can feel confusing. Be prepared to walk. Or use valet parking.
Room rates range from $189 to $258 depending on whether you’re staying in a king room, a room with two queen beds or a suite. Book directly with the hotel, through the Hilton Worldwide website or try Travelocity.
Post and photos by Jamie Rhein. My stay was courtesy of Experience Columbus who sponsored the Midwest Travel Writers Association but all opinions on my own.