Described by the hotel team as "the first high-end hotel in the horse and bourbon capital of the world," The Manchester sits on the site of the historic Ashland Distillery – the city's first registered bourbon producer, which was established in 1865.
Its location in the heart of Manchester Street's historic Distillery District places guests within close proximity to a host of bourbon distilleries, breweries, bars, restaurants and event spaces.
Hoteliers Nik Feldman and Hank Morris tapped New York City-based Bukovec to design "soulful" interiors for the public areas and 125 guest rooms that draw upon the region's heritage.
In the lobby, a wall of hit-and-miss brickwork is modelled on the neighbourhood's historic rickhouses – structures used for storing and distilling spirits.
Corbelled arches within the brick wall lead through to a bar with vaulted plaster ceilings, eclectic lounge furniture, and details that include handmade bejmat tiles and amber-toned fluted glass.
The hotel's main restaurant is named Granddam "after a wise, figurative matriarch racing horse" and serves a contemporary take on traditional Appalachian cuisine.
Seating 140 covers, the space is encircled by square-panelled walnut wainscoting, huge floor-to-ceiling windows and teal-hued leather banquette seating.
Green floor tiles and cushions match the ceiling colour and complement the taupe tones of the walls and furniture upholstery.
"The 140-seat dining room follows the hotel's equestrian aesthetic and is designed as a modern reinterpretation of nearby stables, featuring rich walnut walls and horse saddle-inspired woven leather seating," said the hotel team.
A very different aesthetic was chosen for Lost Palm, a rooftop bar and lounge that takes cues from art deco nostalgia while repeating the same arched forms found in the lobby.
Bukovec combined wicker furniture, rattan panels, geometric patterned floor tiles and tropical planting as a nod to 1960s South Florida and its horse racing culture – for which Lexington is also famed.
The dark woods and rich hues used in the guest rooms evoke those commonly associated with Bluegrass music, another regional specialty.
Room categories range from standard kings and double queens up to one- and two-bedroom penthouse suites with clawfoot tubs, as well as five bunk-bed rooms that each sleep four guests.
A gym located on the 7th floor features herringbone parquet flooring and tanned leather equipment.
The Manchester also offers a variety of guest experiences, including distillery tours, bourbon tastings, fly fishing, polo lessons and trail riding.
Many visitors to Kentucky come for its whisky heritage and industry, which has ties to several big-name architecture firms.
In 2018, Shigeru Ban unveiled a proposal to build a trio of mass timber pyramids for the Kentucky Owl distillery, and more recently, RSHP unveiled its design for Horse Soldier Bourbon's new home in the state.
The photography is by Matt Kisiday.