Five hours by freeway from Lansing, I arrived in downtown Cincinnati, on the Ohio-Kentucky border, one summer afternoon. Visiting “Cincy” was a very friendly and quick trip.

“Cincinnati is a small city that has everything a big city has. It’s easy to navigate. Now that you’ve parked your car here, you can walk to the attractions,” said Bob Louis, who met me at an attraction. itself: the landmark, historic, Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Hotel.

Louis has represented the hotel, which is authentically elegant but not snobbish, for decades. “We get a lot of locals who bring their out of town visitors here just to show them our Palm Court Bar and grab a drink or a bite to eat.”

The whimsical and chic setting of the hotel had a “Great Gatsby” aura. I felt like Jay Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s bow tie, must have been sitting in one of the chairs with a fan blowing cold air over a bowl of ice cream while his butler brought him a phone saying, “Mr. Gatsby?” Cincinnati is calling.

The 29-story, 561-room Hilton Netherland Plaza hotel opened in 1931 within the Carew Tower – the first multi-tower complex in the United States, predating New York’s Rockefeller Center. It’s on the National Register of Historic Landmarks.

“We are a masterpiece of French Art Deco. Our first ballroom “Galerie des Glaces” was inspired by the Palace of Versailles. It has a nice warm glow because there are 18k gold mirrors,” Louis revealed. “And here at the Palm Court Bar, it’s 30ft ceilings above Brazilian rosewood with 10 murals above that depict the French countryside and the pleasures of life: food, drink, poetry, music.”

Louis admitted that at least one of these treats takes place before nearby football and baseball games. “People are coming in for pre-game drinks before our NFL Super Bowl Bengals kick off. And we’re the official hotel of the Reds, Major League Baseball’s oldest professional team.

The Reds Hall of Fame maintains a hotel display case with rotating authentic memorabilia, including, on my visits, 1940s jerseys.

That morning, I had spoken with Los Angeles radio and television sportscaster Tim Neverett, who was in town to call the Dodgers series against the Reds after a long absence due to the pandemic. He even authored a book called “Covid Curveball” which examined the fanless 2020 Dodgers championship seasons in which broadcasters did not travel.

“I’m very happy to be back in ‘Queen City’,” he said. And on the radio show, he explained: “When the Reds baseball stadium was first built, there wasn’t much to do around it. But now there are a lot of new apartments and that comes with restaurants, shops and bars.

On my walk from the Hilton to what is called the “Great American Ballpark,” I stopped for a glass of wine at a classic local favorite: tiffany’s beautiful, cool, dark wood Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse… with his waiters tuxedo and price of $95 at the guards. A Wagyu beef tenderloin on the menu was $168. Tiger shrimp cocktail: $8 each.

In contrast, beers in the stadium were $3; hot dogs $2; and $1 ice cream since it was Tuesday! At that price, I also bought a hot dog from the usher and had a few too many beers. For fun, I figured out how many steamed hot dogs I would have to eat to equal the cost of a Jeff Ruby Rib Eye!

These prices and the rough vibe were old school. Cincinnati likes to be “old school”: the Reds’ jersey numbers are in a retro typeface. The team’s mascot, “Mr. Redlegs” is a character in breeches with a handlebar mustache. And the main feature of the waterfront baseball fields is a central turn-of-the-century steamboat with its twin chimneys spitting flames.

The unique statue in front of ‘Hit King’ Pete Rose sliding headfirst into home plate is a hit with selfie-goers and better than the ‘Big Red Machine’ World Series star being in the Baseball Hall of Fame, of anyway !

Maybe on the other end of Jay Gatsby’s line, Cincinnati is calling!

Contact Michael Patrick Shiels at [email protected] His radio show is available on or weekday mornings starting at 9 a.m. on WJIM AM 1240