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The Luxury of Music City

Nashville, Tennessee is known for its musical riches and culinary wonders. It’s time to add “luxury hotels” to that list.

Perhaps the first thing that non-Nashvillians come to know about Nashville is its well-deserved reputation as “Music City,” a place where gifted musicians of all backgrounds and genres gather to, literally, fill the streets with music. The second thing visitors to Nashville discover is that it is one of the country’s best food cities, home not just to famous local specialties like the Nashville hot chicken and the famed “Meat & Three” but also to sophisticated, ambitious cuisine ranging from American to Middle Eastern to Asian. Now there’s another pillar in the Nashville experience: the arrival of some of the finest high-end hotels in the world.

Nashville has long enjoyed the presence of numerous excellent hotels for value-conscious visitors, and over the past decade it’s seen a surge in smaller, boutique properties. But with one significant exception—the historic Hermitage Hotel, which first opened in 1910—visitors who wanted a luxury hotel experience during their Nashville stay didn’t have many options. They do now.

One notable newcomer is Conrad Nashville, which opened in Nashville’s Midtown area, close to Vanderbilt University and the hip Gulch neighborhood, in autumn 2022. As at any Conrad by Hilton, standards here are high. There are 243 luxurious rooms, including 24 elegant suites and five wellness rooms, an innovative concept for guests who want to work out in the privacy of their room. Each wellness room contains a Peloton, an Echelon Reflect Fitness Mirror, free weights, yoga mats, and a minibar with healthy snacks. For those who prefer a traditional workout, the hotel’s expansive fitness center could pass as a stand-alone gym. Dining options at Conrad Nashville include Blue Aster, a beautifully designed restaurant with a seasonal farm-to-table approach, and Thistle & Rye, a casual cocktail bar with space for live music. And for business travelers, Conrad Nashville has some 17,000 square feet of meeting space. It’s superbly functional, and just as comfortable and elegant as the rest of this outstanding hotel.

It’s always a vote of confidence when a Four Seasons opens in a city, which Four Seasons Hotel Nashville did in fall 2022. “This city is not just dynamic and growing exponentially,” says hotel communications director Robert Chinman, “but the people behind that growth are some of the best partners I’ve ever come across.” So, Four Seasons Hotel Nashville aims to reflect that famous Southern hospitality. “We want to emulate that warm welcome that everybody gave us when we came into the market,” Chinman says. “It’s the best reminder of what hospitality is.”

Chinman points out that Nashville is experiencing a “creative renaissance” featuring music, fashion, art, entrepreneurship, and dining, among other areas. Mimo Restaurant and Bar is the property’s flagship dining spot, led by Michelin-starred Chef “Nello” Turco, which specializes in elevated Southern Italian fare with local influences. Four Seasons Hotel Nashville aims to spotlight the city’s diverse creativity. One example: The hotel has partnered with local collaborative Songwriter City to offer an experience in which songwriters come to your suite to perform and share the stories behind the songs they’re playing. It’s all about blending luxury with a local experience; just across the Cumberland River from the hotel is Nissan Stadium, where the NFL’s Tennessee Titans play, while lower Broadway, home to Nashville’s inimitable honkytonks, is just a block away from the hotel. Guests can take advantage of this central location to explore the city, then return to the oasis of luxury for which Four Seasons is famous.

Another entrant in Nashville’s luxury lineup is The Joseph, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Nashville, part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection, which opened back in 2020. The hotel is owned by The Pizzuti Companies, a Columbus-based, family-owned business, and you can see their personal touches throughout The Joseph; the Pizzutis are well-known art collectors, and the property reflects that passion, with ambitious artwork, much of it from the Pizzuti Collection, on display throughout the hotel. Yet there are also ubiquitous touches of Nashville culture. In the guest rooms, the knobs on the dresser doors resemble the knurled knobs of a Fender Telecaster guitar; suites at The Joseph all contain Audio-Technica turntables and a selection of LPs. The signature restaurant Yolan is guided by James Beard Award-winning chef Tony Mantuano, renowned for Chicago’s Spiaggia, and his wife Cathy, who curates the wine program there. Yolan features a seasonally changing tasting menu always inspired by a different region of Italy.

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Visitors with a focus on sustainable travel will appreciate the recent opening of 1 Hotel Nashville, part of a growing hotel group with sustainability as part of its DNA.  It’s not just a marketing tool; 1 Hotel Nashville walks the walk. It’s a LEED-certified building that uses reclaimed materials throughout and offers an Audi e-tron house car experience in addition to preferred parking for fuel-efficient and low emission vehicles. It has a green exterior wall composed of 56,000 plants, sourced from a farm in East Nashville, that decreases urban water runoff and helps cool the hotel—and the area around it. It provides guests with reusable water bottles and uses recycled wine bottles as in-room carafes. 1 Hotel Nashville even offers a program called “One Less Thing” in which guests can leave behind “gently used” clothing, which then gets donated to local shelters. The result is a hotel that doesn’t compromise on luxury even as it’s helping to redefine it.

Travelers with a bohemian bent welcomed the spring 2022 opening of Soho House Nashville, which joined the brand’s global collection of 38 locations in 24 cities. The club occupies space in a century-old building that once housed a sock factory in the art hub of the Wedgewood-Houston area. Deliberately intimate, Soho House Nashville has 47 guest rooms, but abundant performance spaces, a health club, pool and cinema. The bedrooms are stocked with furniture and accessories from local furniture makers. The emphasis here is on the arts, especially local ones; an art collection contains works by 41 artists born, based or trained in Tennessee. Soho House commissioned three of those artists to create site-specific work for its Nashville space.

The hotel that started it all in Nashville, The Hermitage Hotel, hasn’t been resting on its laurels. Unveiled this year, the multi-year restoration and redesign preserves the history and character of the hotel while brightening and enlivening the rooms and public spaces. “As stewards of a historic landmark”—The Hermitage was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2020— “owners Robert and Molly Hardie are really committed to the property,” says managing director Dee Patel. “They want to continue to polish the jewel.”

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With that in mind, the Hardies recruited renowned restauranteur Jean-Georges Vongerichten to open a new restaurant, Drusie & Darr by Jean-Georges, in the hotel. Drusie & Darr features globally inspired cuisine with an abundance of Tennessee produce, and it’s already become a favorite for locals—perhaps the highest compliment for a hotel restaurant. “Steps from the Ryman and the city’s magnetic nightlife, The Hermitage is the perfect launch point for experiencing the very best of Nashville,” says Patel. “Guests will experience a beautifully revitalized hotel that marries iconic architecture with contemporary luxury and warm, welcoming service.” One example: Through a partnership with Nashville-based The North American Guitar, guests who stay in The Hermitage Suite, the hotel’s most luxurious, can have guitars delivered to them to enjoy and play during their stay.

These six hotels are all distinctive and different, but they do have some things in common. One is that their guests can expect the highest standards of service and comfort. Another is their commitment to helping guests appreciate and engage with the city of Nashville—its food, music, culture, and people. Because, in the end, that’s what the best hotels do. They make a special place even more so.

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