Your analogy is a bit off for me. Columbus definitely a big city. Ranked in the top 15, at least in the media world.<quoted text>
First, big cities don't count which is why I put Chicago in a special category with all the other big cities. Second, depends what you're looking for. I don't care about clubs and botiques. My everyday life revolves around my house, my business, trips to the various big box stores, exercise and the occasional dinner. I think most people's lives are the same.
Aside from the big 5 cities on that list, is there any one of those that head and shoulders better than Columbus? I don't think so. Among its peers (non-big cities), I still think greater Columbus is easily an 8.
Big box stores are part of the issue here for me as well. Nothing but cookie cutter stuff, nothing unusual. Home furnishings from one home to another here look alike to me--nothing individual or unusual. Not that I use the Texas whorehouse look, but I do tend towards less traditional furnishings, more clean lines (think Shaker-type furniture and modern design) and away from neutral blandness (prefer more of the jewel colors and forest colors).
The occasional dinner out here in Columbus often is the same old, same old boringness. Olive Gardens, "big box" chain restaurants. Some individually owned, more creative restaurants do exist here, but they are few and far in between -- Mozarts comes to mind here as does The Olive Tree if Hilliard. Other than a few exceptions, there is no adventure in the cuisine here.
Boutique hotels are very nice, ever stay in one? Service that Marriott and Sheraton forgot about a long time ago.