Travelers may have once overlooked Kansas City for other Midwest cities like Chicago and Minneapolis, but no longer. Add to its signature barbecue, blues, and baseball a now-thriving restaurant and bar scene—plus noteworthy architecture, world-class museums, and some serious shopping—and you have all the makings of an ideal urban destination.
Also cooler than expected are the city’s hotels, which range from a historic property with a bar in a former speakeasy to a museum-meets-hotel with its own contemporary gallery. Read on for more places to rest your head in the Paris of the Plains with our list of the best hotels in Kansas City.
21c Museum Hotel Kansas City
Book Now: From $135 per night, expedia.com
Like the other properties in the 21c collection, this downtown hotel blurs the lines between a boutique hotel and a contemporary art museum. Occupying the former Savoy Hotel and Grill building, it pairs historical details (stained-glass windows, original hotel sinks) with modern art (including curated exhibitions, site-specific installations, cultural programming, and local artwork in every room).
The hotel is near some of the city’s best dining, but when you don’t feel like leaving the property, there’s the Savoy at 21c, housed in what was once the oldest restaurant west of the Mississippi and a favorite of prominent figures like President Truman (his preferred booth still sits in the bar and lounge area). Here, Kansas City native Joe West now serves a creative take on classic Americana, with a traditional cocktail list to match.
Book Now: From $131 per night, expedia.com
The Fontaine fits right in with its surroundings in Country Club Plaza—an area styled after the plazas of Seville, Spain—thanks to its tiled floors, Renaissance artworks, and sparkling Murano chandelier in the lobby. Rooms continue the opulent theme with velvet chairs, tapestry headboards, and marble bathrooms, while dining options shine bright amid the many chain restaurants in the Plaza. Guests can enjoy cocktails and a full menu at the rooftop bar and lounge, or order food from next-door Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar directly to their rooms. But the Fontaine’s finest amenity remains its small rooftop pool, which is bordered by a firepit and backed by panoramic views.
Hotel Phillips Kansas City, Curio Collection by Hilton
Book Now: From $153 per night, expedia.com
Located in the Power & Light entertainment district, the Hotel Phillips occupies a historic building that was once the tallest in Kansas City. Although filled with modern touches like digital keys, free Wi-Fi, and an on-site fitness center, the 1930s structure manages to maintain its art deco character, from the Goddess of Dawn sculpture in the lobby to the P.S. bar, once an actual speakeasy hidden in the building’s mailroom. It’s within walking distance of great theaters, nightlife, and attractions like the Kansas City Convention Center, but guests might want to stay on property for dinner at Tavernonna Italian Kitchen, which incorporates local ingredients into classic Italian dishes like pork osso bucco and seafood risotto.
The Raphael Hotel, Autograph Collection
Book Now: From $206 per night, expedia.com
Housed in a landmark Renaissance revival–style building that’s on the National Register of Historic Places, the Raphael is full of European-style charm. The lobby features original mahogany details, marble flooring, and mosaics depicting Kansas City history, while guest rooms have elegant decor and spacious bathrooms with deep-soaking tubs.
Just steps from Country Club Plaza, the hotel offers easy access to excellent shopping, dining, and nightlife, but also hosts its own slate of entertainment, including jazz on the front lawn every Wednesday night throughout the summer and regular live music at its restaurant, Chaz on the Plaza. Chaz chef Shawn Hartwig even leads regular wine dinners and sommelier clubs that have become a favorite of guests and locals alike.
Book Now: From $179 per night, expedia.com
Named for the surrounding arts district, the Crossroads Hotel fits right in with its neighboring galleries thanks to decor by local makers, including wallpaper by tattoo artists Mikey and Megan Wheeler, custom blankets by Karrie Dean of Happy Habitat, and framed art from design studio Hammerpress, which is right up the street. The hotel has its own gallery that exhibits work by local artists, hosts a thriving artist-in-residence program, and offers activities for the community, like yoga classes and a Wednesday night running club.
Guests should check the schedule to see what’s on during their stay, then also hit the Percheron Rooftop Bar, where they can pair frozen cocktails, craft beers, and light bites with scenic views of the city. Also on site is a café serving locally roasted Messenger Coffee and an Italian restaurant with a seasonally rotating menu and extensive wine list.
Book Now: From $169 per night, expedia.com
Located in a 1926 building full of art deco details, the Hilton President feels like a step back in time. It’s right down the street from modern inventions like the T-Mobile Center and the Kansas City Convention Center in the thriving Power & Light District, but inside it’s all old-school charm, from the Drum Room lounge and club (opened in 1941 and frequented by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Patsy Cline, and Benny Goodman) to the Walnut Room breakfast space (complete with original stained-glass windows and rich wood columns). For something slightly newer but no less exciting, dine at Providence, where locally sourced ingredients are featured on a menu of steaks and fresh seafood.
InterContinental Kansas City at the Plaza
Book Now: From $148 per night, expedia.com
The InterContinental sits in the heart of Kansas City’s prime shopping area, Country Club Plaza, making it perfect for visitors seeking some retail therapy. It’s also within walking distance of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the quirky National Museum of Toys and Miniatures. Guest rooms feature private balconies overlooking the Plaza, and the pool area plays on KC’s nickname with its own fountains, giving an otherwise big-box hotel a local touch. There’s also the American Slang Brasserie restaurant, a favorite for its French-inspired fare and live jazz six nights a week.
The Elms Hotel & Spa
Book Now: From $103 per night, expedia.com
The Elms Hotel may be located 30 minutes outside Kansas City in Excelsior Springs, but it’s still popular with tourists and locals alike for its peaceful atmosphere and 25,000-square-foot spa. Guests come here seeking rest and relaxation in the Grotto (a Roman bath–style area inspired by Excelsior Springs’s famous mineral waters and their curative properties), then stay for the history, which dates back more than 125 years. As the story goes, the property burnt down and was rebuilt two times and, though no one was killed in either fire, the blazes were supposedly caused by resident ghosts who haunt the lap pool and halls.
You can learn more on paranormal tours of the hotel, but if you’re not one for ghost stories, there are 16 acres of landscaped grounds and gardens, an outdoor pool with weekend cocktail service, and that massive spa to keep you otherwise entertained.
>>Next: The AFAR Guide to Kansas City