With 15.2 million tourists visiting Nashville each year, we have officially gone accommodation crazy. The city is jam-packed with convenient, high-end options, as well as a few unique properties that remain under the radar (for the moment). But no matter where you stay, you can bet your bottom dollar you’re going to pay someone handsomely for the honor.
Downtown has the largest selection of historic and one-of-a-kind properties, though you can find excellent options from Edgehill to East Nashville. The city offers many chain hotels, but try to book boutique or smaller options first, especially if it’s your first trip to Nashville. If the Grand Ole Opry is the sole focus of your visit, you can stay at Opryland; however I can’t recommend it. Opryland is simply too far removed from the city, and the atmosphere bears no resemblance to Nashville’s. The one exception is if you have kids or you’re visiting during the winter holidays, when they blow it out with a level of festivity and cheer that creates an atmosphere all its own. The best places to stay are going to be those where you can walk to restaurants, museums, parks, shopping, or all of the above. Everything else is a short drive or ride-share away.
THE BIG PICTURE
Deciding where to stay in Nashville doesn’t need to be complicated once you’ve pinpointed a few areas of interest and chosen a location that’s convenient. There really is little “down” time in Nashville now, but finding the right accommodation—vibe, location, and cost—can be crucial to your trip, so lodging is one of the categories I recommend splurging on. Major chains operating in and around Nashville and Memphis include Best Western, Holiday Inn, Hyatt Place, Radisson, and Ramada, as well as business-traveler favorites Hampton Inn & Suites, Hilton, Marriott, and Sheraton. The rates do not include the Tennessee sales tax (9.25%) and state and city room taxes, which altogether will add 14.25% plus $2 onto your room bill. Internet fees range from free to $12 per day, though even midpriced hotels typically have Wi-Fi in their lobbies. If you’re driving, factor in valet, which is typically $40 anywhere Midtown or downtown.
Parking downtown or in Midtown will cost you: Overnight valet runs a standard $36 to $43, plus tip. There are often pay parking lots nearby, which can also cost up to $40 per night, so factor that into your decision-making. There are a few deals to be had in lots such as One Nashville Place downtown, at $16/night, so check out www.parkitdowntown.com/nashville once you decide where to stay. But if you’re flying into Nashville, and plan to spend much of your time in the city center, you may not need a car at all, since you can walk, bike, scoot, or ride-share to anywhere you might want to go.
This hot area of 4th Ave. N. is anchored by the current trifecta of the Bobby, Noelle, and the Fairlane hotels, though more are on the way. The draw is obvious: These accommodations are close enough to Printers Alley and Broadway that you can party as late as you like and then retreat into an urban oasis to sleep, eat, or swim it off. Plus, these personality-filled hotels are close enough that the amenities of one become the amenities of the other, so it’s truly the best place to stay in town.
Go Ahead, Take the Towel
Bobby Hotel’s live-in lobby dog, Sasha, is helping raise money for the shelter she came from. The shepherd mix was brought to live at the hotel after she was found pregnant under a bridge. Her puppies were adopted out, and the hotel created a hand towel with Sasha's face on it. If you take the towel home, the $25 charge is donated directly to Country Road Animal Rescue, so it’s a memento that matters.
When construction started on Nashville’s first million-dollar hotel in 1908, residents watched in awe as the Hermitage “skyscraper” rose to a height of 10 stories. Guest rooms were considered state-of-the-art with running water, telephones, and private bathrooms. The eighth floor was dedicated to sample rooms for traveling salesmen to exhibit their goods. In the 1920s, the Hermitage Hotel was the national headquarters for both pro- and anti-suffrage causes, and several presidents have visited the hotel, including Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy. Other celebrities who’ve visited include Charlie Chaplin, Babe Ruth, and bank robber John Dillinger.
Loft of Luxury
For groups who want to stay downtown but want more togetherness than hotels afford, loft rentals are an excellent option. Many will appear, at first glance, to be on the pricey side at $250-plus per night with cleaning fees and taxes, but do the math before you count them out; Groups can easily save enough to make them worth your while. My favorite downtown option is the Printers Alley Lofts, which are smack in the middle of the legendary alley’s bars, restaurants, and nightlife. Each of the renovated lofts has a unique design that features exposed brick, insanely tall ceilings, luxury kitchens, inviting gathering areas, and city views. Some of the larger lofts sleep up to 12, making this a prime spot for groups who want the option to ensure the party never stops.
With new hotels and, in turn, hotel prices going up nearly constantly in Nashville, visitors have embraced a number of short-term rental platforms, including Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway. Use these to find accommodations in trendy neighborhoods where there are few hotels (East Nashville, Germantown) or to find cost-effective, private, or unique alternatives to high-rise hotels. Short-term rentals can cost anywhere from $60 for a single bed to $500 for an entire house. A prime example of the kind of properties you can find using these sites is the Buffalo Soul Airbnb.
You Didn’t Just Fall Off the Turnip Truck
If you stay downtown, you’re going to be paying a premium. The best way I’ve found to mitigate that is to grab some snacks and drinks when you get in town so you’re not paying $11 for every bottle of water. The Turnip Truck, 321 12th Ave. S., a local foods store in the Gulch, is a great place to grab chips, fruit, beer, and whatever else you’ll need.
Every day in Nashville there are new Airbnbs coming on the market that have been custom-made for groups and tourists. Don’t be afraid to find one a little off the beaten path and plan to ride-share into town as needed. The Cruzen, for example, in historic Woodbine, is a few miles from downtown but offers groups of up to 10 people all kinds of amenities, including a dining room and gourmet kitchen, a private backyard, and complimentary snacks. At less than $200 per night, this is another case where you should definitely do the math with ride-share costs and see if it adds up for your group. Visit www.epicbnb.com to book this and other properties.
A Spirited Stay
If you stay at Union Station Hotel, be on the lookout for a spirit named Abigail. During World War II, Union Station was a bustling train depot, and young Abigail came here to see her boyfriend off when he was deployed to France. When the war was over, she went back to the same spot—where she was told she he wasn’t coming home. Distraught, she threw herself onto the tracks in front of a train. Now it’s said she roams the halls looking for her lost love. Guests of room 711—the room overlooking the spot where Abigail breathed her last—have reported hearing strange dragging noises, seeing lights turn on and off, and feeling gusts of cold air. The staff, though, insists Abigail is friendly—so friendly, in fact, they named a drink after her at the bar.
West End hotels are good for people who plan to spend time at Vanderbilt, Centennial Park, or in Midtown rather than downtown. Families will find many of these options comfortable, however none will have the neighborhood feel that downtown or Gulch hotels offer.
OPRYLAND, MUSIC VALLEY & AIRPORT
If you plan to spend most of your time near Opryland, many hotels offer shuttles to downtown, which you must take advantage of. However if the only thing you’re planning to do near Opryland is the Grand Ole Opry, consider staying downtown where you can easily access all the city has to offer. A ride-share service from downtown to the Opry will run you less than $20, and some hotels will help you make arrangements for Opry transportation.
Traveling Between Downtown and Opryland
A cab ride from downtown to Opryland costs about $25 one-way, so if you’re staying at Opryland Hotel, you should purchase the round-trip shuttle service. The service runs downtown on buses continuously throughout the day and until 11pm weeknights and 1:30am on Saturdays. It’s $20 per person roundtrip, or $40 per person for a 3-day unlimited pass, which is easily worth the price. Kids ages 18 and under ride free with adults and groups of 4 or more can cash in on a 50 percent discount.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.