Eldridge Hotel Facebook title

The historic Eldridge Hotel is the heart of Downtown Lawrence, Kansas, about 40 minutes west of Kansas City. Enjoy an outstanding experience with luxury suites in the Lawrence business district.

Explore Lawrence sponsored my visit, but all opinions are mine. Roxie on the Road participates in affiliate programs, like Stay22. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no cost to you. All opinions are always mine.

Track your items with Apple AirTags.

The Eldridge began as the Free State Hotel, providing temporary living spaces for Lawrence’s New England settlers. It’s so integral to the city’s identity that the City of Lawrence’s seal features a phoenix rising from the burning hotel.

Sheriff Jones plaqque on the Free State Hotel, now the Eldridge Hotel
This stone in the hotel’s front elevation commemorates the Free State and Eldridge Hotel’s rises from the ashes.

The Eldridge rose from its burning ruins twice. The first time, Lecompton Sheriff Samuel Jones burned the then-Free State Hotel during the 1856 Sack of Lawrence (PDF). Colonel Shalor Eldridge rebuilt the hotel and renamed it the Eldridge House. He vowed that he would rebuild it every time pro-slavery forces destroyed it — and he would add another story.

Roxie’s reliable report: Colonel Eldridge still welcomes guests, and Room 506 is his favorite haunt.

Cornerstone listing the Eldridge Hotel's four founding dates.
The Eldridge Hotel could carry the name Phoenix Hotel because of its numerous rebirths honored in its cornerstone.

William Quantrill’s raiders burned the Eldridge Hotel again in 1863, and Colonel Eldridge built it anew. The building’s cornerstone displays the Massachusetts Street hotel’s 1856 inception and rebirths in 1857, 1863, and 1925. Billy Hutson and other Lawrence business leaders rebuilt the original hotel in 1925 after it had deteriorated. 

Related: Sheriff Jones ruled in neighboring Lecompton. Fort Scott‘s Western and Free State hotels displayed that city’s pre-Civil War division.

The Eldridge Hotel’s most recent rebirth

Unfortunately, trends caught up with the property as motels emerged in cities’ outskirts. Downtowns declined, as did their hotels. The phoenix known as the Eldridge Hotel, Lawrence, nearly lost its existence. The hotel closed in 1970. Its state was so dire that the owners had to install a new lock on its front door. The original key had disappeared long before. Sadly, the hotel became a set of apartments for 15 years. After those years of twilight existence, a developer gathered investors to rescue the hotel. The investors raised $1 million, and the City of Lawrence issued $2 million worth of industrial revenue bonds to renovate the hotel’s top four floors.

University of Kansas alumni and local investors purchased the building at auction in 2004. They closed the hotel in January of the next year and returned it to its 1925 grandeur in four months. The hotel reopened in May 2005, resuming its proper place as Lawrence’s premier destination hotel.

Roadie on the bed in our Eldridge Hotel suite.
Roadie enjoys the Eldridge Hotel’s comfortable beds.

Stay in the Eldridge Hotel

The historic hotel has 48 suites, all non-smoking. The ground floor holds its reception area and restaurants, with a bar in the basement. The rooms are in the four stories above street level. My room was a small suite with club chairs, a TV, and a chest of drawers in a tiny living room. A nook held a coffee maker and a small refrigerator. French doors opened into the bedroom, which held a comfortable king-size bed, nightstands, TV, and another chest of drawers. I enjoyed the lovely views of Downtown Lawrence from three stories up.

Other suite hotel options are the Grand Corner Suite, Honeymoon Suite with two-person shower, double suite, premier king suite, and ADA-compliant queen suite with roll-in showers. Enjoy free wi-fi and weekend coffee in the lobby, a 24-hour business center, baggage check, and package handling. Park your vehicles in the Vermont Street Parking Garage west of the Eldridge. The hotel provides a PDF of other parking options. Check-in time is 4 p.m. with an 11 a.m. check-out time.

Roxie’s reliable recommendation: If you’re staying in Lawrence for a while, consider The Eldridge Extended‘s luxury suites nearby. Unlike the Eldridge, this property does not offer room service. Both hotels offer meeting rooms, from the intimate Olivia Room to the 225-person capacity Crystal Ballroom. Check the events menu for live music and the University of Kansas Jayhawks watch parties.

Eat in the Eldridge Hotel

But before you reach your room, you’ll register at the front desk in the historic building’s elegant lobby. Several conversation clusters invite guests to gather beneath Palladian windows. The Eldridge House Grille opens from the lobby, while the Jayhawker Bar is in the basement.

The Eldridge House Grille offers contemporary American cuisine. Eat the hand-cut Kansas City steaks, seafood, pasta, and a comprehensive wine list. Head down to the Jayhawker Bar for a cocktail, plus the grille’s complete menu. Come to the lounge bar on Thursdays for Martini Nights.

Brick-lined Eldridge Hotel stairway includes Big 6 team tiles.
The Big 6 Conference lasted from 1928 to 1947. Member universities were Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.

Roxie’s reliable report: Vintage Big 6 team tiles decorate the stairs from the lobby to the Big 6 Room.

Sunset behind the Genovese Italian Restaurant
Downtown Lawrence at sunset

Where to eat and shop near the Eldridge

The Eldridge inhabits one of the state’s best shopping and dining districts in Downtown Lawrence. These are 10 of the best places to enjoy.


Copperhead Ale and water at Free State Brewing Co.
Drinking Copperhead Pale Ale and water at Free State Brewing Co.

• Free State Brewing Co. was the first Kansas craft brewery to open after Prohibition. Eat the farm sausage tortellini and try a flight of beer. I recommend Ad Astra Amber Ale. In fact, drinking Ad Astra Ale is No. 1 in my book 100 Things to Do in Kansas Before You Die.

Pie, s'mores shakeers, and a Ladybird Diner coffee mug filled with creamer containers
Prepare to eat the pie at Ladybird Diner.

• Ladybird Diner is a Lawrence landmark in the same block as the hotel. Owner Meg Heriford named her restaurant for Lady Bird Johnson. The eatery is famous for its pancakes, huevos rancheros, burgers, and fried chicken on Friday night. Oh, and the pies are marvelous. The kitschy décor feels like you’ve reentered Grandma’s kitchen. Vintage aprons adorn the walls, and adorable throwback salt and pepper shakers embellish the tables. Forget matchy-matchy. The tables and chairs are delightfully eclectic.

During the pandemic, Ladybird made national headlines — in a good way. The Washington Post put Ladybird on the front page. Heriford turned Ladybird into a food bank. Anyone could eat while paying whatever the person could afford — including nothing. Donations and sales from Ladybird, Collected, a short book about the diner and its denizens, paid the costs.

Related: Learn about Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson at their Texas ranch.

Hot beef Louise and house-made chips at Latchkey Cafe
Enjoy homemade everything at the Latchkey Café.

• Latchkey Deli is all about local food. They use locally sourced meats, cheese, bread, and produce, finishing their ingredients in-house whenever possible. The staff makes Italian soda syrups, including house cola, beer, wine, and coffee selections. Eat the delectable hot beef Louise with garlic Parmesan chips.

Shopping on Mass St. is No. 92 in my book 100 Things to Do in Kansas Before You Die.

Embrace the joy in Downtown Lawrence.


Shopping is fun in Downtown Lawrence.

Exotic lemonade brands at Mass Street Soda & Sweets
Drink bizarre beverages from Mass Street Soda & Sweets.

• Celebrate soft drink flavors from around the world at Mass Street Soda & Sweets. The store stocks more than 1,000 varieties of bottled pop, and the selection can be overwhelming. No worries: Ask the helpful staff for advice. Better yet, schedule a group tasting.

• Great Blue Heron Outdoors combines a wading sports outfitter with a craft drink emporium. Shop for camping, fishing, and paddling gear and apparel, then enjoy a drink on the patio.

Raven Book Store front
Quoth the Raven, “Read some more!”

• Stop at The Raven Bookstore for a copy of Ladybird, Collected, but browse through its substantial mystery section with additional specialties in fiction, poetry, current events, environmental writing, children’s books, science fiction, and romance. 

Disclosure: The store sells my books, and I had a Secret Kansas book event there. Stop in and buy a copy.

Weaver's Department Store front
Shop at the state’s oldest department store.

• Weaver’s Lawrence is the state’s oldest department store, opening a year after the Eldridge Hotel. Before you root for the Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse, buy the appropriate gear at Weaver’s. 

Related: See the Original Rules of Basketball, one of the top things to do in Northeast Kansas.

Dave the Cat's shop at Wonder Fair
Watch for Dave the Cat at Wonder Fair, and be careful that he does not escape through the front door.

• Dave the Cat reigns at the delightful Wonder Fair, Print Palace of the Great Plains. The shop includes an art gallery, design shop, stationery, and art supply shop full of quirky items. Enter the famous Final Resting Place bathroom at your own risk.

Wonder Fair's "Famous Haunted Bathroom sign
Do the needful at your own risk at Wonder Fair.

Related: Explore other famous Kansas bathrooms at the Bowl Plaza in Lucas and Moon Marble‘s Bathroom Museum.


• Climb Lawrence is between the parking garage and the hotel’s front entrance. Practice your rock climbing and bouldering skills or take a class to improve them.

Quilt about the First Colored Kansas Troops
The First Colored Kansas was the first Black Civil War regiment.

• When we visited, the Lawrence Visitors Center featured Marla Jackson’s exquisite art quilts depicting aspects of Black history. Her subjects included Harriet Tubman, the First Kansas Colored Troops, John Brown’s raid on Pottawatomie Creek, and his conviction for treason after he attacked Harpers Ferry, then in Virginia. 

Related: Visit John Brown in Osawatomie and learn more about life on the front lines in Lawrence at the Watkins Museum of History.

You’ll enjoy Lawrence, and the Eldridge Hotel is the perfect headquarters for explorations.

Related: Stay in the Texican Court Hotel in Irving, Texas, and the Beaumont Hotel, Beaumont, Kansas.

Please sign up for our newsletter.

Just to make things easy, we don't sell or share your information.

Eldridge Hotel Pinterest title
Please pin this post.

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)

Follow by Email