Whether it’s a newcomer to a quaint Main Street, a historic mansion or a funky new option in the heart of downtown, Nashville has no shortage of fabulous places to stay. Here are three new additions to Music City’s hotel scene — each offering unique options for visitors to spend a few nights.
Step Inside 3 New Nashville-Area Hotels
The Graduate Hotel
101 20th Ave. North, Nashville, TN 37203 • (615) 551-2700
The Graduate is another newcomer to Nashville’s hotel scene that takes its design cues from its location. The first person to greet guests as they come in is a larger-than-life painting of Minnie Pearl hanging out behind the registration desk — complete with hat and price tag, of course. And the old neon sign next to the desk is from the Polk Motel that once stood south of Nashville in Columbia, TN. There’s even a nod to Taco Bell and Checkers in the lobby. “People ask us all the time why the heck we have those signs there, but we love that because it gives us a chance to connect with the guests and tell them why,” says general manager Greg Bradley. “Before this hotel building was built, this spot was a Taco Bell and a Checkers.”
Greg adds there are plans to add a taco truck to the hotel’s offerings because “we have to give the people what they want.” The Graduate’s website describes the hotel as offering a “high-spirited stay.” We asked Greg to explain exactly what that means. He says the design is one thing that helps them stand out in a crowded hotel market. “Design and style have a way of changing your emotional state,” he says. “You can look at a piece of art and feel inspired. I think if we create the right high-spirited, passionate, fun and playful environment and take guest services seriously, it creates a place you want to be.”
The Graduate has 205 guest rooms, Poindexter’s coffee shop, an animatronic karaoke bar and a rooftop bar called Miss Bessie’s that is all pink and serves brunch on the weekends. “When you walk through the doors here, you are met with so much color and vibrant, warm smiles, you just can’t help but smile,” Greg says. “It’s a welcoming environment. People are just excited to be here. Students from Vanderbilt come over to have coffee and take advantage of one of the nine Southern-style sofas designed for total relaxation. It makes for an experience that makes you feel great.” The Graduate opened just after Christmas in 2019 and is already getting rave reviews online. One guest describes it this way: “Eclectic and chic and country and glam all rolled in one big place!”
The Harpeth Hotel
1320 2nd Ave. North, Franklin, TN 37064 • (615) 206-7510
A short drive south of Nashville, and you’ll find the Harpeth Hotel in Franklin, and it’s the first hotel in downtown Franklin’s historic district in more than 100 years. Although a nice hotel seems like an obvious omission in a tourist destination’s business mix, acquiring the land to house the Harpeth proved to be a difficult task and almost didn’t happen. General manager Justin Foster says the hotel’s owner had to assemble nearly a dozen separate parcels of land. And only a few months in, the Harpeth is already making Franklin’s historic district proud with its nod to history, quality service and friendly staff. “I think we did it right,” Justin says. “On the outside, you have the brick that ties into the history of this area and the stone that makes it current. Inside, it feels like a Franklin hotel should. We wanted to create a community hotel. We wanted something that is going to make Franklin locals feel welcome and give them something they are proud of.”
The Harpeth is part of Hilton’s Curio brand of hotels, which are designed to have a boutique feel and embrace the culture of the community they are in, and the Harpeth is no exception. The lobby is airy and welcoming, the reception desk is unassuming, and the decor is modern without being disrespectful to the history of the ground upon which the hotel is located. The Harpeth has 119 rooms, six two-room suites and several junior suites. Their ballroom seats up to 180 people and is nicely poised for a solid wedding business.
Flanked by McGavock’s Coffee Bar & Provisions and the 1799 restaurant — both named after historic people and events in the history of Franklin — the hotel has a strong food and beverage offering with a focus on local providers. The steaks at 1799 are from local Bear Creek Farm, and the coffee is from Honest Coffee Roasters just down the street. Both have outdoor patio seating, which is also an underserved offering in downtown Franklin.
“Everybody needs to have something that makes them different,” Justin says. “For us, just being down here makes us different. We are not like the rest of the hotels in this area. We are a little bit edgier. We are not dressed up in suits and ties. We want people to feel like they are part of our family.”
The Belle Air Mansion
2250 Lebanon Pike, Nashville, TN 37214 • (615) 974-3726
What sets the Belle Air Mansion apart from other Middle Tennessee accommodations is that it dates back to 1790, and until 2016, it was a private residence. When purchased by Lewis and Connie James, the mansion had fallen into disrepair. “We were looking for a wedding venue to buy,” Lewis explains. “I found the Belle Air online and showed it to my wife. We went and looked at it, but it already had an offer on it. The person who was set to buy it was going to use it as a clubhouse and put townhomes around it. I told them if that deal didn’t work out, we would restore the home.”
Thankfully for Nashville, that initial offer fell through and the couple honored their end of the deal and have lovingly, painstakingly restored the home. Lewis remembers the only thing appealing at the mansion at that time was its potential. “On the front of the house, all the balusters were off,” he remembers. “Everything was rotted. Things were falling down and peeling. It was a terrible place. It had one full bath and one operational half bath and another half that didn’t really work.”
More than three years after the initial purchase of the mansion, the home now houses 27 chandeliers, 200-year-old original hardwood floors, all new draperies and furnishings, 10 bedrooms, 14 bathrooms, nine fireplaces, 12-to 13-foot ceilings, a five-bedroom retreat house, and a guest house. “The back part of the house still has some of the original 230-year-old bricks that were made on the property,” Lewis tells us. Unfortunately, aside from those original bricks, the other pieces original to the house had been auctioned off prior to the sale, so there weren’t many original finds for the Jameses to unearth. “Anything that wasn’t nailed down had been sold,” Lewis says. “They took out a lot of really nice stuff, but we found a lot of really nice stuff to put back in there.”
Lewis and Connie spent 18 weekends in a row driving to collect various antique pieces to bring back to the mansion. And although they did the best they could to restore the home’s historic features, they also added in modern-day conveniences like working, private bathrooms for each guest room and brand new audio-visual equipment for corporate clients. “What’s appealing about this place is the 200-year-old trim,” Lewis says. “There are hand-carved fireplaces and some of the doors are original. But it’s also as functional as any hotel you will find. Every room has a coffee maker, iron, refrigerator and hairdryers. We’ve made it into a place that is great for a corporate retreat. We’ve had companies come here to have trainings and breakout rooms, and they’ve had the place to themselves.”
The mansion also has two large dining rooms. Lewis says the main piece of feedback he hears from guests is how large the guest rooms are. He says the size “kinda blows people away.” Seven of the guest rooms are more than 550 square feet in size. The gold suite is 800 square feet, which by many hotel standards, is the size of two rooms. “What’s super special about Belle Air is I don’t know of any other historic mansion around the country you can sleep in overnight,” he says. “That is very rare. Some have cottages you stay in and you can tour the mansion, but that’s it.”
Here’s to a relaxing getaway in Music City!
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