Come stay in bourbon paradise.

The Woodford Hotel by Patti Nickell

     It’s no secret that Woodford County is a magnet for travelers seeking the best of the Bluegrass.  Every year visitors flock here to see the world’s greatest collection of Thoroughbreds, to sample bourbon at Kentucky’s oldest distillery, and to marvel at its jaw-dropping scenery. 

     The only thing the county was lacking was an equally charming downtown hotel reflective of its history and heritage. 

     All that changed in 2022 when the eight-room Woodford Hotel opened on Main Street.  Owned and managed by Eric and Kristen Carrico, the property is an elegant example of a trend gaining popularity across the country. 

     “We’re what you call an Invisible Service Boutique Hotel,” explains Eric, adding that while the hotel isn’t staffed 24/7, that doesn’t mean potential guests should panic. 

     “It may be invisible, but the service is there,” he says.  “Kristen and I are always just a phone call away.” 

     It’s no coincidence that the Louisville-based couple chose to open their hotel just off the Kentucky Bourbon Trail in Versailles. 

     “I’ve been a bourbon lover since college when a buddy, who was close to the Samuels family, introduced me to my first taste of Maker’s,” says Eric. 

     Today, he co-hosts a You Tube show all about bourbon with acclaimed wine and spirits writer Fred Minnick, and has made his hotel a tasteful shrine to the bourbon industry. 

    Each of the spacious rooms (four on the second floor and four on the third floor) is named either for a famous distillery or a legendary distiller.  The unique décor comes courtesy of Kristen, who says she “enjoys creating spaces for people to be comfortable in.” 

     Comfort is key at the Woodford Hotel, but so is luxury and more than a touch of whimsy. 

     Among the second floor rooms, guests have no trouble recognizing the two-bedroom, two-bathroom Wild Turkey Suite from the large stuffed turkey over the fireplace and an original Wild Turkey decanter. 

     Next door to the Wild Turkey Suite, the royal blue Blanton’s Bourbon Suite features an antique dresser and mirrors, and a photo of a very young Albert Blanton. 

     Also on the second floor is the Old Crow Suite, where the dark color scheme evokes a masculine, clubby feel, and the Pappy Van Winkle Suite, which, with its bright colors of yellow and apricot, is a study in contrast to the Old Crow Suite. 

     On the third floor, the Four Roses Suite boasts brick walls, hardwood floors and a striking black and white design. 

     The Woodford Reserve Suite has floor-to-ceiling windows original to the historic building which provide a contrast to a modern six-by- four-foot digital printout of the distillery’s rickhouse. 

     Another digital reproduction can be found in the E.H. Taylor Suite – this one a photograph of the man often referred to as “the father of bourbon.”   

      In direct contrast to Taylor’s serious visage is the whimsical chandelier which Kristen painted a bright orange color. 

     The last of the eight rooms, the Buffalo Trace Suite, is decorated with not only various depictions of buffaloes, but with a plush leather sofa and chair and an antique table. 

     The honor bar on the second floor which provides a variety of snacks is a nice touch.  The hotel doesn’t have a license to serve liquor, but the Carricos encourage guests to bring their own favorite bourbon to enjoy in the comfort of their room. 

     While the hotel doesn’t have a restaurant either, there are several within walking distance or a short drive that ensure guests will not go hungry. 

     Eric and Kristen both recommend family-owned Taquera Becerra where everything is made from scratch, and Ricardo’s Grill & Pub, a relaxed tavern situated in a former railroad depot.   

    Eric also enthusiastically recommends J & B Food Mart, which he says “may be located in a gas station, but offers a full plate lunch every day.  On Wednesdays, they even do frog legs.” 

     Hotel guests wishing for something grander may book a table at Versailles’ new gourmet restaurant Vallozzi’s where dishes such as lobster risotto, chicken Saltimbocca, veal chop Parmesan and branzino dominate the menu. 

     Afterward, they can enjoy a nightcap at Amsden Bourbon Bar where the space may be small (or intimate, if you prefer) but the classic cocktail menu is anything but, with more than 100 bourbons to choose from. 

     Don’t worry about drinking and driving as Amsden Bourbon Bar is just across the street from the bourbon-themed suites at the Woodford Hotel. 

     With the opening of the Woodford Hotel, visitors to Versailles will find a harmonious blend of history and heritage in a warmly welcoming setting. 

     For more information about the Woodford Hotel and nearby restaurants and bars, go to