Rent Airbnbs for Derby Week

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — People from across the country are flocking to Derby City to watch the 148th Kentucky Derby.

What do you want to know

  • The Kentucky Derby is back with no capacity limitations this year
  • As people come to Louisville, many are staying at Airbnbs
  • Price comparison site finds it costs 342.8% more to rent an Airbnb Derby week than the previous week
  • Local property investors have prepared a new 16-bedroom Airbnb just in time for the lucrative week

It’s not a cheap trip, however. Price Comparison Site,, finds that the average price for an Airbnb in Louisville during Derby week is $1,481. That compares to an average of $334 per night the previous week.

The Highball Speakeasy Lounge and Retreat has six bedrooms and five bathrooms (Spectrum News 1/Amber Smith)

That’s a difference of 342.8%, marking the second highest increase of any event in 2022. finds that the PGA Championship in Tulsa is the only sporting event in 2022 with a bigger increase in rental price.

The Highball Speakeasy Lounge and Retreat is a new six-bedroom, five-bathroom Airbnb in the Highlands. It can accommodate up to 16 people.

Co-owner Eric Feller said it was important to get the place ready in time to take advantage of the lucrative Derby season. People often try to book their stays in Derby well in advance, so they started marketing the place on Airbnb with just listings. Their Derby guests booked in before the place was finished.

One of the rooms at Highball Retreat. All rooms have themes (Spectrum News 1/Amber Smith)

“They’re excited. We’ve talked to them about providing a private chef. We’re doing everything we can when it comes to Derby groups,” Feller said. pay back a little.”

After being hit hard during the pandemic, tourism is back and booming in Louisville.

In the first quarter of 2022, Airbnb hosts in Louisville collectively earned more than $5 million, according to data provided by Airbnb. Derby Week in 2019, the last “normal” year for Derby, brought in $2.5 million for the Louisville hosts.

This is the airplane-themed bedroom at Highball Speakeasy (Spectrum News 1/Amber Smith)

“It’s not just horse racing here. The bourbon trail brings so many people and bachelor parties, bachelorette parties and friends get-togethers,” Feller said. “We wanted to give people a really cool place to hang out.”

The Highball Airbnb was named in part because it has a patio that overlooks the Baxter Jacks Volleyball Club on Baxter Avenue. The ground floor features a bar area with karaoke, a full kitchen, bar tables, and garage doors that open to Baxter Ave. It also has a back room with a pool table. In this room you can also find two jockey silks from some riders at Churchill Downs.

The Highball Retreat even has its own karaoke stage. (Spectrum News 1/Amber Smith)

Upstairs you will find rooms decorated with different themes.

“We like that all of our rooms are themed because we find that we cater to customers who are looking for a unique experience,” broker Stacey Duvall said.

The same is true in the back house. In this house there is also a separate living room and kitchen. Between the two you will find a patio on the ground floor and a terrace adjoining the two houses on the top floor.

It’s not just people renting Airbnbs to make a living and profit this week. Sometimes people just rent the houses they live in or rooms in their houses to earn some extra money that week. This is actually how Highball co-owner Ron Burns got into the business.

“Interestingly, my neighbor across the street came to my house one day and told me he was renting his house for Derby and was getting $10,000 for the week. I immediately took pictures, signed up for VRBO and have been doing it ever since,” Burns said.

The Highball Retreat Airbnb lounge (Spectrum News 1/Amber Smith)

They now own multiple properties around town, all of which were booked well in advance for Derby week. They require a three night minimum around the Kentucky Derby. This gives guests plenty of extra time to explore all the other things the city has to offer.

“It’s where everyone wants to be. If you’re here, you’re within walking distance of four or five different distilleries or breweries and of course all the bars and restaurants,” Burns said.

In 2020 they pushed the race back to September and ran without fans in attendance. In 2021, Churchill Downs hosted the Kentucky Derby in May as usual, but in front of a small crowd. This year, Churchill Downs is welcoming people with no restrictions, raising hopes of a return to 150,000 or more under the Twin Spiers.

According to Airbnb, the top hometowns flocking to the Kentucky Derby this year are Boston, Chicago, Houston and New York.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a direct link to the study.

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