Kentucky Derby

Cheapest Time to Book a Hotel for the Kentucky Derby

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Article Summary

  • We collected nearly a years worth of data on hotel prices in Louisville, KY for the Kentucky Derby
  • Using this data we try to find the cheapest time to book a hotel for the Derby
  • Other accommodation options are official Kentucky Derby hotel packages and Airbnb

The Kentucky Derby is one of those classic sporting events that everyone wants to attend one day. Everyone thinks of the expenses with purchasing Kentucky Derby Tickets, but few people realize the real expense with the Kentucky Derby is the hotel or accommodations. For the 2017 Kentucky Derby we collected hotel prices every day from August. The goal of this article is to look at that data and see if there is a cheapest time to book your Kentucky Derby hotel. Our website slogan is “Bucket List Cheaper”, so let’s see if we can find any good advice in our Kentucky Derby Data.

Kentucky Derby Hotel Prices 

The graph above shows hotel prices for the 2017 Kentucky Derby. Every day we gathered the price of every hotel in the Louisville, KY area for the dates of the Kentucky Derby. We then calculate the average price for all of these hotels and plotted it on the chart above. So the chart above is the average hotel price for every day of the year from August for the Kentucky Derby.

As you can see the Kentucky Derby is not cheap to attend: this is one the of the most expensive events we cover for hotel prices. The average hotel price for most of the year is over $600 a night. The worst part about the Kentucky Derby hotel prices are that most of these hotels aren’t even that nice: in general they are 2 and 3 star hotels that jack their hotel prices up. The Kentucky Derby is just a classic supply and demand hotel situation where they know there’s tens of thousands of people coming to Louisville so they raise their prices accordingly.

So when should I Book a Kentucky Derby Hotel?

Ultimately it seems prices don’t vary much from August to March. Perhaps prices were cheaper in May to July before we were price tracking – we’re a new website and will be tracking Kentucky Derby Hotel prices for these times this year. There was a slight drop in the early part of 2017, but even then hotels were still north of $580. In general though it does not appear there is a best time, at least not from August to May. For some of these events we see a big drop as the event approaches, but this wasn’t really the case with the Kentucky Derby. This is what I would do when booking a Kentucky Derby hotel:

  • Book a refundable hotel really early (May or June)
  • Continue to look for a Kentucky Derby hotel throughout the year and see if you can snag some sort of deal; if you do just cancel the original hotel you booked for the Kentucky Derby

Selfless plug but you can use Event Track to get automatic price updates on Kentucky Derby hotels – tell us what price you want to pay, what hotels you are interested in, and we email you automatically if any of those hotels drop below that price.

Other Kentucky Derby Accommodation Options

Hotel Packages

The Kentucky Derby offers official hotel packages through their website. These are generally packaged with stadium seat tickets so they will cover your Kentucky Derby hotel and tickets. If you wanted to do the infield at the Kentucky Derby this isn’t an option. They are on the expensive side with most packages starting at $2,000+ (includes hotel and tickets).

Airbnb

Obviously Airbnb is another option for the Kentucky Derby. You can definitely find some good deals on Airbnb, especially if you book it early. Here’s my main advice with using Airbnb for the Kentucky Derby:

  • Book early: the prices for Kentucky Derby Airbnb will go up quickly as they fill up
  • Realize the risk: Airbnb’s can be cancelled by the home owner at anytime. If the owner of the home realizes later they can make more money because it’s the Kentucky Derby you could get screwed last minute. This is the biggest downside with using Airbnb for the Kentucky Derby. My advice would to have a refundable hotel as a backup plan.
  • I would make sure when you book that the owner is aware this is for the Kentucky Derby: that way they don’t realize it later and cancel your stay. I don’t recommend trying to sneak in at a lower price before they realize and hope they don’t cancel on you. If they know from the beginning and still accept your stay you should be good.

Summary

Sadly there is no cheap time to book hotels for the Kentucky Derby: it’s a bucket list sporting event for a reason. If you are going to the Derby it’s going to be an expensive endeavor, expect to pay a lot of money for a mediocre hotel. Airbnb and official Kentucky Derby hotel packages are other options but ultimately it’s a trip that’s going to cost you a good chunk of change.

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