How to Do the Kentucky Derby in Ultimate Luxury ($1,000 Juleps, Anyone?)

Hunter S. Thompson famously called it "decadent and depraved." But also one of the events of the year.

The greatest two minutes in sports and one of the social events of the year will soon be upon us. Returning for the 142nd year on May 7, the Kentucky Derby will bring the glamour, parties, and decadence (and some serious horse racing) to Louisville’s Churchill Downs. If you'll be traveling to be a part of it — or just wanderlusting from afar — here's a look into how folks in the know do it right.

1.  Reserve the Best Seat in Town

For those who are frankly tired of slumming it at Jockey Club Suites and Millionaires Row, The Mansion offers the most luxurious Churchill Downs experience, if you can score a ticket. The normally invite-only Mansion sells around 300 tickets for access to the space on Derby day — for around $10,000 apiece. As well as a premium view of the finish line and outdoor patio space with paddock views, guests can enjoy guided tours around the track, the services of a personal concierge, and cuisine at the chefs table by Top Chef alumnus, Edward Lee.

2.  Stay at Louisville’s Best Hotel

The stylish 21c Museum Hotel is a combined boutique hotel and contemporary art museum, which is open to guests 24 hours a day. Each room at the hotel is packed with original artwork, with one suite even offering the chance to sleep inside an art piece: “Asleep in the Cyclone,” created by artists Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe. The hotel’s restaurant, Proof on Main, one of the best in the city, is a hot spot for local trendsetters and makes a mean mint julep.

3.  Get the Perfect, Showstopping Hat

On Thursday May 5 and Friday May 6, 21c Museum Hotel will be hostin CRAFT(s) Gallery Trunk Show in its lobby. You’ll be able to browse one-of-a-kind custom headwear by milliners including Nina Rosenberg, Jill Henning, and Sarah Havens. For the gents, a select sampling of sport coats by Crittenden and Co. will be available. Elsewhere, the Brown Hotel will have an on-site expert to whip up a hat to perfectly match your outfit, or you can visit Peacock Boutique, which has a fabulous selection of statement-making hats and fascinators by Philip Treacy and Katerina Miaoulis.

4.  Sip $1,000 Mint Juleps

It's not the Kentucky Derby without a mint julep or two and, at $1,000 a pop... some of us may have to limit our intake of The Woodford Reserve Mint Julep Cup to literally just one or two. Purchase your cocktail online before the end of April, pick it up on Derby Day and sip safely in the knowledge that proceeds go toward benefit the Wounded Warrior Equestrian Program.

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