Disclosure: Ambassador Hotel Wichita sponsored this post, however, all opinions are my own. All of the photos were taken by me.
Not all hotel experiences are memorable, then again, not all hotels are the Ambassador Hotel Wichita (104 S. Broadway).
A stunning boutique hotel in downtown Wichita, it caters to travelers looking for a sophisticated experience surrounded by luxury. The award-winning hotel touts a long list of amenities making it a sought-after choice for overnight accommodations in the city.
Located in the heart of downtown near entertainment venues, it is within walking distance of historic neighborhoods Old Town and the Delano District. The building also has a rich legacy of its own.
Once home to the Union National Bank and Dockum Drug Store in 1926, it opened as Ambassador Hotel Wichita eight decades later. Fourteen stories tall, it was considered the tallest building in Kansas when it was completed. In addition to its architectural significance, the building also has historical value. It was the site of a student-led sit-in in 1958 at the Dockum Drug Store led by African Americans in an effort to end segregation. Not long after the students were finally served at the store’s soda fountain, Rexall stores across the nation followed suit, desegrated, and changed their policies in stores throughout Kansas.
They say location is everything. The Ambassador’s proximity to some of Wichita’s best attractions is part of what makes it a desirable choice for an overnight or weekend stay. If you’re someone who loves to explore downtown areas by foot or by free trolley, I recommend booking a hotel room. As soon as you step outside the lobby doors, the sounds of downtown Wichita invite you to experience the fun.
Finding a parking space and checking into the hotel is easy. I drove into a nearby parking garage and traded my paper ticket for a hotel-issued parking card at check-in. After checking into my room, I toured the hotel. It’s something I like to do to get a lay of the land. I discovered an elaborately decorated lobby ornamented with oversized chandeliers and modern furniture.
Are you someone who seeks out a hotel with a fitness center? I’m more of a yoga kinda gal, but I appreciated that the hotel’s gym was filled with a variety of machines and racks of free weights. For hotel guests who need to work while they’re traveling, the lobby has a sundrenched workspace with all the necessities of an office.
I can’t say enough about the level of luxury at the hotel. My experience was delightful, and I especially appreciated the Premium Corner King room. It was incredibly spacious as compared to other downtown hotels I’ve stayed in. Sunlight flooded the room thanks to oversized windows on nearly every wall. Elegant furniture and decorative finishes created an inviting space. The deluxe room would be an ideal choice for a couple or business traveler wanting comfort matched by luxury.
The room’s amenities include a flatscreen TV, liquor pantry, coffee cart with snacks, and an Alexa personal assistant. For those who need to get work down during their stay, the in-room desk is large enough for a laptop and then some.
Traveling for pleasure? The hotel offers various room service packages, which can include a bottle of wine or champagne with an upgrade. Just imagine yourself relaxing in a plush king-sized bed wearing a soft robe while enjoying a meal from bed. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
For me, it was the details of a hotel experience that make it worthwhile. From oversized bath towels and feather pillows to high-speed WiFi and a comfy couch, the Premium Corner King room provided everything I wanted and more. After exploring downtown Wichita, it was just the kind of room I wanted to return to at the end of the day.
DINING + DRINKS
Thankfully, I didn’t have to travel far for an incredible meal. Siena Tuscan Steakhouse, located on the hotel’s first floor, is a fine dining restaurant that serves locally inspired cuisine.
The impeccable menu changes seasonally. My server told me that a considerable amount of attention is given to the quality of the food they serve from sourcing the ingredients to crafting the recipes – even the mushrooms are farmed daily. My meal was exceptional.
Italian music played as I dined on an appetizer board of chef-selected meats and cheeses. I particularly loved the Italian herb cheese and the fresh made-in-house peach jam. The board was large enough for two to three people to enjoy before ordering dinner with a bottle of wine.
Just around the corner from the restaurant’s dining room, I heard people chatting and glasses clanking. Siena’s bar area was full of hotel guests, mostly business travelers, sipping on wine and cocktails. If I were traveling for work or simply needed a place to meet a colleague for a drink, the lounge area would be my go-to spot.
After devouring my delicious meal, I followed the signs leading to the bottom level of the hotel. I was led into a candlelit foray with a mysterious wooden door. I had arrived at Dockum, a speakeasy known for serving exquisite hand-crafted cocktails.
The moment I entered the dimly lit space I was greeted by the sound of jazz music and a visually stunning room. Pendant lights with old-fashioned mercury bulbs and a large collection of candles illuminated the space. I nestled into my table. It was as if I had been transported to the Prohibition era when gangsters used secret taverns to sell illegal alcohol.
The speakeasy pays homage to the building’s history while providing guests ambiance they won’t find anywhere else in the city. According to Dockum, the rules for enjoying the bar are simple, “Be good to us and we’ll spoil you.” It was definitely my kind of tavern.
I ordered Dockum’s Smoking Gun, a signature cocktail made with Tin Cup Whiskey, brown sugar simple syrup, blackberry shrub, and whiskey barrel-aged bitters. I highly recommend this cocktail not only for its taste but also so you can watch it being made. The bartender aka “pharmacist” crafts it by flaming the shrub’s smoke directly into a small bottle filled with spirits. The magic continues tableside as the server pours the smoky concoction into a glass of ice and lights an orange peel to finish it.
When you stay downtown at the hotel, you are within a short distance of one-of-kind attractions from public art to event venues. As soon exit the lobby’s doors, you’re only steps from a Wichita transit trolley or electric bus stop that can take you to them. It’s also an easy walk for hotel guests who would rather stroll the city’s urban core.
Douglas Avenue is the home to beautiful works of art. The city commissioned 31 life-size bronze sculptures by Washington artist, Georgia Gerber, which appear on four blocks of downtown sidewalks. They sit right alongside oversized planters overflowing with colorful botanicals making the self-guided tour a delightful one. Which bronze sculpture will be your favorite? It’s hard to pick just one. I encourage you to seek out Dockum Lunch Counter Sit-In, which is representative of the historical moments that took place where the Ambassador is located today.
Street art is a bonus surprise for visitors to Wichita. Douglas Avenue Art Days is a collection of murals that make vibrant backdrops for selfies. How many will you discover? To view them all, download the app for access to a map and plot your course.
One of my favorite places to view artwork in the city is the Wichita Art Museum. It sits in the Museums on the River district near Riverside Park. The museum houses award-winning paintings, sculptures, and they always have rotating exhibitions featuring the work of well-renowned artists. Don’t miss the outdoor sculpture garden featuring one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Art, “Dreamers Awake” by Tom Otterness. Another indoor space to view art, much of which is usually the work of talented regional artists, is CityArts. After viewing its gallery, I suggest renting a scooter or bike from a nearby station to tour the sculptures on display in Old Town between Douglas and Second streets.
On your way back to the hotel, make a stop at our city’s iconic steel sculpture, the Keeper of the Plains. If you visit it at night, you can see it illuminated from the light of fiery cauldrons that burn every 15 minutes starting at 9 pm in the spring and summer and 7 pm in the fall and winter.
If you haven’t experienced the newly constructed Riverfront Stadium, it’s time. The ballpark is home to the minor league Double-A affiliate team, Wichita Wind Surge. Baseball fans pack the stands to listen to the crack of the bats and the roar of the crowd.
Hockey fans visiting the area must experience an action-packed Wichita Thunder hockey game at Intrust Bank Arena. The venue is only two blocks from the Ambassador. The energy of the arena comes alive as our team battles on the ice against visiting opponents. Don’t be surprised if you see Wichitans passionately beating on the ice rink’s glass in support of their favorite team.
Blade and Timber, located in the historic Delano District, is a great place to test one’s axe-throwing skills and “unleash your inner lumberjack.” Why not make it a competition amongst friends and see who’s axe lands closest to the bullseye?
Are you thinking of traveling with family to downtown Wichita? Lace-up your skates at the Wichita Ice Center across the street from Riverfront Stadium. It’s an ideal place to cool off indoors on a hot summer day and practicing pirouettes.
When not hosting the city’s hockey team, Intrust Bank Arena showcases live music from big-name artists from the likes of George Strait, Foo Fighters, and Pink. I can’t think of a better hotel to stay at downtown if you’re planning to attend a concert than the Ambassador. You can walk to the venue in five minutes and get there just in time for the show to start.
If you’re interested in catching a local band at a smaller venue, consider walking to Wave, Barleycorn’s, Mort’s Martini & Cigar Bar, or Vorshay’s Cocktail Lounge – three of the venues are located in historic downtown Wichita buildings.
You don’t have to go far from the hotel to spot boutique shops and remarkable retail stores. One of the best places that I like to direct out-of-towners is Hatman Jack’s in the Delano District where shoppers have enjoyed custom hat fittings for the last four decades. Other fantastic finds in the historic district include All Things BBQ, Zeep Bath, Sweet N’ Saucy, and Bungalow 26.
Staying at the hotel with kids? The city’s center is home to several family-friend places to explore and have fun. Take my advice and take the family to Exploration Place. The science center gives museum-goers of all ages hands-on experience interacting with exhibits such as Design Build Fly and Where Kids Rule. Feel like getting some fresh air and enjoying a wide-open space? Naftzger Park is a scenic space/entertainment venue in downtown Wichita. If you’re lucky, you might catch a movie in the park while you’re there during the summer. Nearby, I recommend stopping into Peace, Love, & Pie where they take homemade pie-making to another dimension. Grab a slice to go and enjoy it from the astroturf lawn at the park.
Another attraction that is considered a “happy place” for visitors is Botanica. Not your average city garden, it is an oasis in the middle of downtown Wichita. I love walking amongst their manicured landscapes to view an extensive variety of plants and flowers. The roses in the Shakespeare Garden will take your breath away. Kids and adults alike enjoy the whimsical discoveries found in the Downing Children’s Garden. Don’t miss a trip through the Butterfly House.
It wouldn’t be a complete tour of downtown’s finest attractions without a mention of Old Cowtown Museum. Locals and visitors alike have been going there for years to see what it must have been like on the frontier in the late 1860s and 1870s. I know you’ll appreciate touring over 50 authentic and recreated buildings that make up Cowtown. It’s an immersive experience you won’t find anywhere else. Be sure to step inside the saloon for a cold root beer or saunter over to the print shop to watch a letterpress at work.
There is no shortage of attractions beyond the doors of the Ambassador. Whether you’re visiting the city for the first time or a returning guest, the downtown area is the best place to experience what makes Wichita wonderful. Perhaps I’m a little biased since I’m a Wichitan, but I promise you’ll love your experience staying at Ambassador Hotel Wichita as well as the time spent in the downtown area.
Do you have questions about exploring Wichita’s downtown district? Want to learn more about the hotel? Drop a comment below. I’m always happy to give travel advice.