Crash on the main drag of burgeoning art-centric neighborhood Ohio City at the year-old Cleveland Hostel (from $25), which feels more like a hipster haven than a grungy dorm. All fifteen rooms are thoughtfully appointed with throwback details like needlepoint bedspreads, chalkboards, and old-fashioned alarms clocks that beg to be Instagrammed; there are eight private rooms (from $65), four of which have private baths. When you’re not grilling on the rooftop deck, rent a bike from the front desk to visit galleries in the area.
Explore the art-rich University Circle area surrounding Washington Place Bistro & Inn (from $179), located less than a mile from the Museum of Contemporary Art. Since there are only seven rooms, guests get plenty of service but never in an intrusive way, and the décor thankfully steers clear of doilies and floral prints. On weekends, complimentary brunch is served in the restaurant and includes seasonal fare like ginger biscuits and gravy with housemade chorizo.
Ask for a room on a lofty floor at the Ritz-Carlton (from $319) to enjoy views of Lake Erie stretching north and the city spreading south. Cleveland’s hotel stock is limited and mostly mid-range, so the Ritz’s 205 rooms stand out with luxurious touches like thick Frette sheets on the beds and plush towels in the Italian marble bathrooms. If you let the staff know about your gallery-hopping plans, you might find a small cooler full of San Pellegrino and another filled with snacks in the back seat of your rental car after the valet retrieves it.