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Congratulations on your choice to visit Cleveland – an underrated Northeast Ohio city that is often undeservedly the butt of jokes. Your decision to visit means you have excellent taste in beer and food, and you ignore all the hate. Since you’re already equipped with the right spirit, all that’s left is for you to choose among the best hotels in Cleveland for your stay.
It’s true that the Cuyahoga River caught fire in 1969, and yes, Clevelanders will likely hear about it forever. However, they know how to turn a negative into a positive by naming a beer after it and creating a festival called “Burning River Fest”. It would also be remiss not to mention Cleveland’s sports woes, but even those are made into trendy t-shirts worn by locals.
Despite all that negativity, anyone that has ever visited Cleveland cannot deny that it is a great city. With its Lake Erie views, ever-expanding brewery scene, and amazing restaurants, there is plenty to explore and appreciate. With that, here are the best neighborhoods and hotels in Cleveland to help you properly experience this city.
The Best Hotels in Cleveland By Neighborhood
Those not familiar with Cleveland often don’t realize there is more to it than just its downtown. In fact, Cleveland is divided into various neighborhoods, each offering their own unique atmosphere, restaurants, bars and attractions. Here are five great neighborhoods to check out, and what each one has to offer.
With great accessibility to a lot of Cleveland’s best sights, Gateway encompasses a lot of things. This is where you will find the stadiums where the Indians and Cavs play. This is also where you can find E 4th, or Cleveland’s showcase street. If you ever watch any sporting event on TV where Cleveland is playing, you’ll often notice the cameramen panning E 4th.
A visit to this area is a must for both restaurants and nightlife. For upscale comfort food, check out Iron Chef Michael Symon’s Mabel’s BBQ. For drinks, Butcher and the Brewer is a trendy brewery serving small plates and Society Lounge makes handcrafted cocktails in a dark speakeasy type space.
Where to Stay in Gateway
Hotel Indigo Cleveland Downtown – This budget boutique style hotel is a great jumping point for visitors in town to see the Indians or Cavs play ball. For the price, a stay at the Hotel Cleveland Gateway is worth it for the close proximity to E 4th and E 9th streets, where many of the best restaurants and bars downtown are located.
Hyatt Regency – Located in The Arcade, one of Cleveland’s iconic historic buildings, a stay at the Hyatt Regency offers a peak into Cleveland’s pre-economic crisis opulent past. The Hyatt is located on Euclid Ave., right at the tip of E 4th Street, so there is plenty to do as soon as you walk out the door.
For a caffeine buzz, Rising Star Coffee Roasters in located right in The Arcade. If you leave the building on the Superior Avenue side, take a right for a one-minute walk to Ohio City Burrito. Of course, if you head out on the Euclid Avenue side, all the restaurants and bars of E 4th are right at your disposal.
The Ritz Carlton – A famous upscale brand and definitely one of the best luxury hotels in Cleveland. Professional athletes and celebrities are known to stay here while in town. The Ritz Carlton is connected to Tower City, another one of Cleveland’s iconic historical buildings.
This hotel offers great access to the Gateway area, with Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse being only a six-minute walk away. The Ritz has its own highly rated restaurant, TURN Bar + Kitchen. However, if you’re looking for debauchery, the Ritz is also right next to the Warehouse District, where you can find some of Cleveland’s most notorious nightlife.
A stay in Playhouse Square means a bit ritzier of an experience, as this is Cleveland’s historic theatre district. You’ll notice the change in neighborhood as you drive down Euclid Avenue underneath the huge welcome sign and glitzy chandelier.
Playhouse Square is famous, being the second best theatre district in the nation behind only Broadway. To even be mentioned in the same sentence as Broadway is saying something!
Besides theatre, there are also nice restaurants over here, including the Bin 216 wine bar and Adega in the Metropolitan at the 9 hotel. More good news – Playhouse Square is still walkable to most places downtown.
Where to Stay in Playhouse Square
Hampton Inn Cleveland Downtown – Located on the corner of E. 9th Street and Superior Avenue, the Hampton is just a half mile walk to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. If you’re willing to walk about another quarter mile, you can easily reach the E. 9th pier for gorgeous lake views and a photo op at the Cleveland Script Sign. Another option is to head east from the hotel on Superior Avenue and go to Masthead Brewing Co. for some of Cleveland’s best beers.
Crowne Plaza Cleveland – This moderately priced hotel is located right as you enter Playhouse Square and see the beautifully lit up sign right in front of you. If seeing a play while in Cleveland is something you want to do, this is the perfect place to stay.
While the Crowne Plaza is located on Euclid and is walkable to the other great areas of downtown Cleveland, there are places in the area to check out as well. Yours Truly is a well-liked breakfast spot, while Hofbräuhaus Cleveland is the perfect brewery to party it up Oktoberfest-style.
Metropolitan at the 9 – This swanky hotel has made a name for itself with its upscale vibes and professional athlete residents. The Metropolitan boasts the highly rated Mediterranean restaurant Adega, Azure Rooftop Lounge, and a cocktail lounge in an old bank vault called…drumroll please… Vault. If you’d like to stay somewhere with an exclusive feel, or the type of place that would declare itself “iconic”, then Metropolitan at the 9 is for you.
Great for nightlife, The Flats offer waterfront bars and restaurants with unmatched views of downtown Cleveland. The Flats are always worth a visit, as Cleveland’s waterfront is simply gorgeous – especially in summer.
This area has only grown in popularity and attractions in recent years. The Flats have been revitalized with new luxury apartments, a Vegas style pool and club called FWD Day + Nightclub, and loads of other trendy restaurants and bars.
The Flats are even more so the place to be at night, with watering holes like Punch Bowl Social, Shooters on the Water, and BeerHead. This area is also in close proximity to Cleveland’s Warehouse District; another popular spot for bar and club hopping.
Where to Stay in The Flats
Stay Alfred at Flats East – For a unique lodging option, book an apartment at Stay Alfred at Flats East. Its two available units offer stylish modern amenities, including a rooftop deck and full kitchen. There’s even a 2 bed/2 bath unit that would be perfect for a family needing space and the option to cook at home.
As the units are located on the east bank of the Cuyahoga River, you’ll have the added bonus of gorgeous water views. Two places to check out near the units are the Big Bang Dueling Piano Bar and Dante’s Inferno, a casual Italian and craft pizza joint belonging to James Beard nominated Chef Dante Boccuzzi.
Drury Plaza Hotel – While this hotel is a wee bit outside of the Flats, it’s only about a mile away, which is a very quick Uber. Unfortunately, while the Flats have a lot of nightlife, the surrounding area tends to be more apartments and condos than hotels.
The Drury Plaza comes in at a great price point, has excellent reviews, and is located in a really nice area of downtown. Its location on E. 6th Street is quiet and calm, yet still very walkable to everything in downtown Cleveland. It’s a great jumping point to get to The Flats, with it essentially being two turns away on some of Cleveland’s least busy roads.
Aloft Cleveland Downtown – The only true hotel right on the East Bank of the Flats, Aloft is the best option for lodging in this neighborhood. It has a couple of its own restaurants, BOLD Food & Drink with a traditional American menu and Lago, a modern Italian restaurant. However, the biggest perk of Aloft is its location, with close proximity to the water and downtown Cleveland, and walkability to great nightlife in The Flats.
Like The Flats, Ohio City is one of Cleveland’s best areas for nightlife. I’m personally more likely to go out here over The Flats.
Ohio city brings more character and history, and the vibe is less pretentious. One highlight of this area is its numerous breweries. It’s a great place to do a brewery crawl in the evening, as they are all so close to each other.
One of my favorite spots to check out during the wee hours of the night is ABC Tavern. It’s a fun dive bar with no-frills drinks, as well as that desperately sought-after fried food following a night of mucho cerveza.
Where to Stay in Ohio City
The Cleveland Hostel – The area’s first and only hostel, the Cleveland Hostel offers a chance to visit the city on a low budget. Like many new businesses and apartments in Cleveland, the hostel was built in a refurbished historical building, which adds a unique touch of Cleveland’s culture and past. There are both private and shared rooms available in this character-filled space. Its amenities include a shared kitchen, Passengers Café on the first floor, and rooftop deck with sweeping views of downtown.
Clifford Home Private B&B – If you want to stay somewhere historical, all while being within walking distance of some of the trendiest spots in Ohio City, this is the place for you. The house is a beautiful brick structure originally built in 1868, with loads of charm.
The owner, who lives in the home, has kept the furnishings classic, but added touches like exposed brick walls and locally made art. He also makes breakfast each morning using locally sourced ingredients. In addition, The Clifford Home Private B&B offers unrivaled access to the main drag of W 25th Street, with places like Westside Market, Great Lakes Brewery, and Town Hall right at your fingertips.
Renaissance Hotel Cleveland – The Renaissance is one of the best hotels in Cleveland, and is often used as a wedding venue due to its elegance. It’s just a tad outside of Ohio City, but you literally just need to cross a bridge and you’re there in 5 minutes. Plus, the bridges over the Cuyahoga River offer great views of the city – especially at night.
The hotel is located in Cleveland’s historic Terminal Tower, which is centrally located downtown. Ohio City is just a quick Uber away, and other neighborhoods such as E 4th Street and the Warehouse District are in walking distance. On a nice day, you can walk right out of this hotel into Cleveland’s Public Square for some greenspace, views of the Old Stone Church, or a healthy lunch at REBoL.
This Cleveland neighborhood offers both history and culture. A downside of staying in University Circle is that you are further out from downtown, mostly because there is not a direct route. The upside is that major Cleveland landmarks, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, Botanical Gardens, and Severance Hall (home of the Cleveland Orchestra), can be found over here.
If Cleveland has any old money back from the early Rockefeller days, this side of town is where it can be found. In fact, there used to be a four mile stretch on Euclid Avenue called Millionaire’s Row, which was lined with as many as 250 mansions. At one time, Cleveland was the wealthy and thriving sixth largest city in the country, but today it is more known for sports and craft beer.
University Circle has its name for a reason. There are, in fact, universities over here, including both Cleveland State and Case Western University. University Circle is also where the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic can be found.
Where to Stay in University Circle
DoubleTree by Hilton – The Tudor Arms Hotel – Not just your average DoubleTree, the Tudor Arms Hotel was built in 1933 and is perfect for those who want to step back in time to when Cleveland was in the midst of industrial prosperity. This hotel has the advantage of being very close to The Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University, which is perfect if you’re in town to visit either of those places. It’s also just a half mile walk to famous Cleveland landmarks such as Severance Hall and the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Courtyard by Marriott Cleveland University Circle – The Courtyard is your standard choice for visiting University Circle. Moderately priced, it is well-located for those in town to visit Case Western Reserve University. It’s also ideal if your goal is to immerse yourself in Cleveland’s highbrow cultural scene. What really makes this hotel stand out, though, is the fact that it is walking distance to Cleveland’s Little Italy. Definitely check out this tiny neighborhood for scrumptious traditional Italian cuisine and adorable little shops and bakeries.
The Glidden House – This hotel is located in a historical building built in 1910, which used to be a posh private home. A few major perks of paying the price to stay here are its proximity to various Cleveland sights, complimentary breakfast each morning, and its local & contemporary art collection.
Glidden House is located more or less on Case Western University’s campus, and is basically across the street from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland Museum of Art, and Cleveland Botanical Garden. Severance hall is a close neighbor, requiring just a couple more minutes walking. If you want to have the ultimate cultural experience in Cleveland, Glidden House is hands down the place to stay.
How to Get Around Cleveland
You’ll find that Cleveland is very easy to get around. That is, unless there is some large event happening downtown, in which case it’ll be a total mess.
Anyways, Cleveland’s downtown is pretty small, and normally not very traffic filled. Rush hour downtown is a different story, but if you are staying there you shouldn’t have to worry about it. In general, if you visit Cleveland and only plan to visit in and around downtown, you will not need a car. You’ll be able to either walk or Uber to everything. That being said, if you plan to do any day trips, you will definitely need to rent a car.
While Cleveland does have public transportation, including buses and the train (aka the rapid), it is not very extensive and is geared towards commuters. The only time using the rapid would make sense for a visitor is when taking it from the airport into Tower City downtown. Otherwise, using it will likely prove more inconvenient than anything else, and I’d point any visitor towards Uber instead.
Top 10 Sights to See in Cleveland
1. E. 9th Pier
This expansive pier is a tranquil waterfront spot right downtown with awesome city views. Stop in at Nuevo for a margarita while watching Lake Erie glitter in the sun.
2. Westside Market
A Cleveland landmark since the 1800’s, Westside Market features numerous food stalls worth browsing. You can find anything from steaks and fresh fish to gourmet popcorn. Steve’s Gyros is a popular stand that has even been featured on the Food Network.
3. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
The name speaks for itself, but obviously the Rock Hall is where legendary rock stars have their legacy cemented into history. The entrance was designed by the late I. M. Pei, who also designed the entrance to the Louvre.
4. Cleveland Script Signs
These are the perfect photo spots to remember your Cleveland trip. You can find the script Cleveland signs throughout the city, the highlight being their amazing skyline views in the background. Popular sites include the E. 9th Pier, The Flats, and Tremont.
5. Playhouse Square
You don’t need to see a show to enjoy this glitzy area, although you may want to see what’s playing. Cleveland gets the best of the best when it comes to shows, including Hamilton and The Lion King. If you’re not keen on shelling out the big bucks for this, you can still admire the large chandelier on Euclid Avenue for free.
6. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is the perfect place to bring the kids to use up some of that energy! There’s a wide range of exhibits that even adults could enjoy, and the hilly paths will certainly give you a nice workout.
7. Cleveland Breweries
Beer lovers rejoice! The Cleveland brewery scene is hot right now, with new ones popping up throughout the city all the time. Try your hand at the Cleveland Brewery Passport, where you can get stamps for visiting up to 30 breweries. If nothing else, check out Masthead Brewing Company for the best beer, Great Lakes for a quintessential Cleveland experience, and Collision Bend to sip a brew along the Cuyahoga River.
8. Botanical Gardens
Get a little crazy, and explore some plant life during your trip to Cleveland. This welcome retreat into nature boasts 10 acres of gardens and an 18,000 square foot Glasshouse filled with exotic plants worth exploring. If you need to de-stress and escape traffic and luxury apartment construction, this University Circle oasis could be for you.
9. E. 4th Street
One of Cleveland’s most popular streets for dining and entertainment, day and night. Entertainment options include a concert at the House of Blues, bowling and drinks at Corner Alley, or a show at Hilarities comedy club. However, my personal favorite entertainment option is the unpredictability of going to Zocalo for dinner and drinks – the bizarre experiences I’ve had there really keep me on my toes.
10. Public Square
This green space in the center of downtown is where you can see the grand Soldiers and Sailors Monument, built in honor of the Civil War. There are plenty of benches in the vicinity for relaxing with some lunch or a book. You can easily find food options nearby, with the newest one being REBoL, serving nutritious bowls.
3 Best Day Trips from Cleveland
Drive down Lake Road to Vermilion
For stunning lake views, take the long way west via Route 2 and Lake Road for a little over an hour. Your destination, Vermilion, is a nautical lakefront town filled with great restaurants and an assortment of tiny shops.
Wine lovers should stop in at The Wine Vault for a wide selection by the glass or bottle. Those seeking ambience for a romantic evening should head to Chez Francois, an incredible French Restaurant on the Vermilion River. Drive a little inland, and you’ll find wineries, orchards, and many fresh produce stands.
America’s Roller Coast! An hour-long highway trip from downtown, Cedar Point is a world-famous theme park that has been setting records, such as the tallest or fastest rollercoaster, since I can remember. It’s the perfect place to spend a fun-filled day with your significant other or chase thrills with the whole family. On a hot day, another option is heading to Soak City right next door for some waterslides and pool time.
About an hour east of Cleveland, this lakefront village is surrounded by wineries worth exploring. It’s the perfect peaceful retreat for those looking to escape the city for the day. Warning – may be filled with bachelorette parties.
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Staying at any of the best hotels in Cleveland listed above is guaranteed to give you insight into a unique Cleveland neighborhood. Whether you’d like plentiful nightlife options, culture, or a great foodie scene, there is something to please all tastes.