When travel abroad comes to a halt, it’s time to explore our own backyard. If stateside travel is on your bucket list for this year — or you just love drooling at beautiful hotels — this story is for you. Some of your favorite or yet-to-be-explored Southern destinations are abuzz with hotel openings, and most all of them come with exceptional dining and imbibing options on the premises. We’re dishing on the South’s newest, hottest and most unique boutique hotels that are definitely worth the quick flight or road trip!
Longleaf Hotel | Raleigh, NC
After transitioning from a run-down Days Inn that opened in 1964, the sleek Longleaf Hotel is now open for business in the North Carolina capital. The 56-room hotel adds some funk and creativity to the downtown Raleigh hotel scene. The Longleaf lounge drips in so much 1960s nostalgia that you might imagine Don Draper and the rest of the Mad Men cast sipping whiskey in the suite next door. Each room feature shades and touches from that era, too. During the revamping, the developers uncovered many of the hotel’s mid-century details like the iconic starshine breeze blocks that had been hidden for years behind stucco. Now, they’re a prominent part of the hotel’s redesign, along with classic mid-century-mod furniture and expertly designed signage and desk stationery. The hotel offers individual rooms, five-bedroom suites, a plush penthouse and private event spaces, combining the comforts of a luxury hotel with the intimacy of a private residence. Original art, unique chandeliers, fireplaces, antiques, and fully equipped kitchens make it a perfect home away from home — and a welcomed, creative addition to Raleigh’s growing list of hot spots.
Graduate | Nashville, TN
Surely you’ve seen Nashville’s newest darling of the hospitality world, Graduate Nashville. A funky, floral treasure chest in the heart of Midtown, this is oh-so-much more than plush hotel rooms and Andy Warhol-esque vibes. No detail was unturned in the dreaming up of this space, from the Dolly Parton-led animatronic band at the hotel’s karaoke bar, to the little Tennessee stars and cowboy boots designed into the thick carpet. Each room envelopes you with a college-dorm-meets-grandma’s-house sort of feel — rambunctious, colorful and comfortable all at the same time. Malin + Goetz amenities, free wifi and other little luxuries pleasantly surprise guests. There are also three on-site imbibing and dining options: Cross-Eyed Critters, a karaoke bar with a twist, Miss Bessie’s rooftop bar and restaurant (opening soon) and lobby-level café and coffee bar, Poindexter. There’s so much to see at this hotel, good luck checking off your Nashville bucket list!
Cotton House | Cleveland, MS
In the heart of the Mississippi Delta off Highway 61 in historic Cleveland, MS, sits the gorgeous Cotton House Hotel. It’s becoming a fixture on the Mississippi Blues Trail and is at the doorstep of the powerful GRAMMY Museum. This new hotel perfectly evokes the spirit of the Delta while providing many modern amenities. Cotton House’s name was born of its proximity to historic Cotton Row in downtown Cleveland, and the property echoes the welcoming, communal nature of the hardworking, hard-playing people and heritage of the area. The hotel boasts a rotating art collection and a 24/7 Balance Fitness studio. Each of the 95 guest rooms and six suites feels like home — only better. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Delta Meat Market for unique dishes rooted in Mississippi Delta culinary traditions by James Beard Award-nominated Chef Cole Ellis. Then ascend for an alfresco rooftop cocktail at Bar Fontaine. Venture down to the Mississippi Delta with Cotton House as your jump-off point, and you’re in for a tasty, music-filled treat of a trip.
Hotel Distil | Louisville, KY
Ok, downtown Louisville, we see you. Newcomer to the famed Whiskey Row, Hotel Distil, has already garnered some stellar accolades in its first few bookable months (voted Best New Hotel by USA Today). As the name indicates, the 205-room property celebrates Louisville’s bourbon past. While almost entirely new construction, the Distil kept the facades of two mid-19th-century buildings — the remains of original barrel houses and offices of J.T.S. Brown & Sons (you know, the Brown-Forman spirits company), which were saved after a devastating fire claimed a few buildings on the block in 2015. The adjoining restaurant, Repeal, leans on old bourbon barrels to fuel this unique oak-fired steakhouse. Another cool feature? Guests staying in one of the hotel’s Connoisseur Suites can request a highly educated Bourbon Ambassador and a private cart to the room with an impressive assortment of premium bourbons. Bourbon lover or not, Hotel Distil — and Louisville — should be on your must-visit list this year.
Maison De La Luz | New Orleans, LA
New Orleans is one of those Southern destinations that seems filled to the brim with classic hotels and new ones we want to try. Maison De La Luz should be at the top of your to-stay list. Housed in the former City Hall Annex, the six-story private sanctuary offers 67 luxurious rooms, multiple congregating spaces, exceptional guest services and an utterly chouette cocktail lounge. Located in the vibrant Arts Warehouse district right off legendary Lafayette Square — the second oldest park in the city — Maison de la Luz is a refuge to return to after a day of New Orleans delights. Flooded with effortless ambiance, this hotel is an intimate expression of New Orleans’s delightful revelry, classic hospitality and understated elegance. With your room comes bespoke service and guest-only access to a private breakfast room, living room and dining room. Whether you’ve got a key of not, however, craft cocktail oasis Bar Marilou next door has become a neighborhood hotspot. Opened by an esteemed French restaurant group as their first U.S. venture, Bar Marilou marries the proprietor’s French roots with a deep admiration for New Orleans’s legendary cocktail history. There’s magic around every corner at this boutique guest house.
The 121 Hotel – Nashville, TN
The 121 Hotel quietly came on the scene alongside a wave of openings in Nashville’s vibrant hotel scene. But we’re not brushing by this opulent five-star option. 121 is designed and outfitted to feel like home … like “your own Nashville luxury pied-à-terre,” they claim. It’s perfect for solo sojourners or groups looking for some truly luxe, spacious digs for a weekend or workweek in Music City. Both the second and third floors can be booked in their entirety for a private vacation-style rental, sleeping up to 18 people. You’ll feel right at ease in the glass-lined space equipped with a full kitchen, modern gas fireplace, pool table, extra-large television, dining table and glass doors that open to a 42-foot balcony. Unlike many hotels, The 121 encourages entertaining, and their staff can make your catering and programming dreams come to life.
Lennox Hotel | Miami, FL
Located in what was once the Peter Miller Hotel built in 1936 and a Collins Avenue landmark, Lennox Hotel Miami Beach is a completely transformed property that tugs on every sense. Its peppered history is preserved through the conservation of the original Art Deco façade and a few hints of the past are found throughout the hotel, such as in the lobby where the original terrazzo floor and archways remain. The hotel features 119 contemporary guestrooms overlooking the buzzing streets of Miami Beach. We particularly love that each room is equipped with handcrafted furnishings from Patagonia and green, upcycled materials. The soft neutral tones and unique textiles combine to create a tranquil escape from the expected commotion of Miami Beach. Centering the hotel’s four interconnected buildings is a Mediterranean-style courtyard with an intimate swimming pool and bar serving innovative cocktails and small plates. Guests can also enjoy cocktails at the hotel’s bar and soon-to-open upscale restaurant. We’re on our way.
ARRIVE | Memphis, TN
ARRIVE Memphis is a new addition to the South Main Arts District and it’s brought much more than more rooms to Bluff City. With locations in Palm Springs, Austin and Wilmington — the ARRIVE group prides itself on being a neighborhood hotel where both locals and visitors want to stay, dine, meet and explore. The rooms are stocked with Turkish Towel robes, Egyptian cotton-wrapped beds, Hudson Made bath amenities and AppleTVs. Pre- and post-Memphis activites, check out ARRIVE’s robust food and bev program. There’s Hustle & Dough‘s “bread forward” menu of freshly baked pastries and toast sandwiches made on freshly baked sourdough breads. There’s Vice & Virtue, the first brick-and-mortar for the Memphis-based artisan coffee roaster. There’s Bar Hustle — an inviting space that feels more like an upscale speakeasy than a hotel lobby bar serving up creative cocktails, local beer, a dozen wines by the glass and light snacks from the Hustle & Dough kitchen. And the hotel’s restaurant, Longshot, boasts elevated bar food and shufflebaords. Room or no room, ARRIVE is the place to meet and unwind in Memphis.
Enjoy your travels — and these amazing Southern accommodations!
When you’re ready to hit the road and explore the South, check out our travel archives. Click HERE to start planning your next Southern escape!