While escaping for a quick getaway to a new locale is currently out of the question, avid travelers are already daydreaming about their next excursion once the world gets back to normal. When it’s finally time again to book your next trip, you may be looking for a welcoming, hospitable destination that will make you feel at ease and quickly at home, but with plenty of new attractions to explore and the luxury amenities you’re accustomed to. If so, consider Nashville.
Nashville — aka Music City — is known for its honky-tonk, Grand Ole Opry and singer-songwriter scene, but if you think twangy tunes are all this growing city offers, think again. This southern gem is attracting tons more travelers these days with an array of cultural, historic and culinary attractions and, no, there’s no need to be a country music fan or the member of a rowdy bachelorette party in order to enjoy them. In fact, it’s entirely possible to plan a full getaway to Nashville without ever setting foot in a live music venue, if that’s not your thing. There are plenteous opportunities to enjoy the other facets of the city that, in the past, have actively attracted more than 16 million annual visitors.
As Nashville garners more attention from the travel community, opportunistic businesses and brands are flocking to the city as well, looking to offer travelers of all types the accommodations, activities and amenities they’re looking for. Upon arrival — and arriving is no difficult task; more than 40% of the U.S. population lives within 600 miles of Nashville, and Nashville International Airport continues to grow its service, with more than 500 daily arrivals and departures — luxury travelers enjoy a truly world-class experience thanks to up-and-coming developments poised to establish Nashville as the South’s new must-visit destination.
New Places to Stay, New Ways to Play
In 2019, Nashville welcomed 18 new hotel properties, adding nearly 2,500 guest rooms to the city and, currently, more than 5,000 additional guest rooms are under construction.
Luxury travelers may be surprised by one of these offerings. The brand-new Margaritaville Hotel Nashville is a far cry from the Margaritaville properties you might be familiar with in coastal locales. This urban escape is an entirely unique concept, offering spacious and sophisticated guest rooms and suites (with none of the over-the-top, tropical-themed decor you might expect from the brand) and new dining concepts offering upscale fare in upscale atmospheres. The property was named USA Today’s Best New Hotel and is setting a precedent for new, urban Margaritaville properties in the brand’s pipeline.
For travelers who prefer boutique properties, 121 Hotel, a Small Luxury Hotels of the World property (and the only Small Luxury Hotels of the World property in Tennessee), offers elevated guest rooms and suites with a residential feel in the city’s West End neighborhood. Sleek guest room designs incorporate modern art, vintage accessories, chandeliers, deep soaking tubs and fireplaces. A one-of-a-kind penthouse provides 960 square feet of living space, including a terrace, a full kitchen and a dining room for 10. Groups or those hosting a swanky event can even rent out the entire building.
Properties from luxury brands you likely already know and love are slated to open their doors later this year and in 2021.
Grand Hyatt Nashville welcomes guests this year with its nearly 600 contemporary guest rooms set across 24 stories. The hotel’s enviable location puts you right near top attractions such as the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Multiple dining options and bars are planned for the property, as well as a spa, the Grand Club Lounge, a rooftop lounge and a pool deck. The Grand Hyatt property is the first tenant to open within Nashville Yards, an urban development encompassing more than 3.5 million square feet of office space, more than a thousand residential units and retail and entertainment space.
Virgin brings its eclectic style to Music City this year as well, with 240 guest rooms and concept suites at Virgin Hotels Nashville. The hotel will sport a strikingly dark exterior and a spacious rooftop pool.
The premiere of W Nashville, in the city’s Gulch neighborhood, is set for December. The brand’s youthful, exuberant vibe seems a perfect fit for Music City. Property plans include nearly 350 guest rooms, 50 suites and two Extreme Wow Suites, the brand’s version of a presidential suite.
Lastly, among those recognizable brands with upcoming Nashville openings, the 237-room, 14-floor Conrad Nashville debuts in 2021 as part of one of two towers within Nashville’s highly anticipated mixed-use development, Broadwest.
Of course, while all of these hotels offer or will offer exceptional dining options, travelers would be remiss if they were to visit Nashville without exploring the local food scene. Fueled by Tennessee’s rich agricultural heritage and incoming culinary talent hailing from all over the world, the food scene in Nashville is so much more than just hot chicken and barbecue (though there’s certainly nothing wrong with either option). Chef-driven restaurants continue to pop up all over the city, and they’re getting a fair amount of attention.
Several highly anticipated new eateries are slated to make appearances in East Nashville this year. Celebrated southern chef Sean Brock has two restaurants in the works, Audrey and Red Bird. The focus for both goes beyond Southern cuisine and narrows in on Appalachian cuisine. It’s reported that Red Bird will boast a daily changing menu, while, upstairs, Audrey will offer a modern experience.
The two restaurants are part of a larger, Brock-created complex where Appalachian culture and cuisine are the stars. The complex will also include a mindfulness center and an heirloom seed bank, as well as be decked out in Appalachian art.
If you’re visiting Nashville ahead of these openings, though, you certainly won’t be lacking for new dining options that have opened in the past year or so. One restaurant that’s made a big splash on the Nashville dining scene recently is Hathorne, which opened in late 2018. The elevated neighborhood eatery offers farm-to-table, family-style dining with ample gluten-free and vegan options. Expect simple and ingredient-driven menu items such as a shaved brussels sprouts salad with currants, apple, feta and a black walnut vinaigrette; roasted golden beets with a tahini and charred-green-onion puree; and fried chicken a la schnitzel with mashed sweet potatoes and spinach.
Culture Beyond Country
Nashville’s cultural and historical attractions are plentiful. Travelers can tour Historic Travelers Rest, a 1799 Federal Period home and the oldest home open to the public in Nashville. They can sample wine and whiskey and take Southern cooking classes at Belle Meade Plantation, an 1853 Greek Revival mansion with a history as a thoroughbred stud farm.
They can visit the full-size reproduction of the Greek Parthenon and its four fine art galleries. But among all this history, what’s new?
For starters, in Nashville’s Fifth + Broadway mixed-use development, the National Museum of African American Music will soon open, with 56,000 square feet dedicated to African-American musicians and composers who heavily influenced nearly every genre of music. The museum explores more than 50 musical genres and subgenres through a mix of exhibits and interactive tech.
Nashville is also heavily celebrating the 19th Amendment Centennial in 2020. Tennessee was the 36th and final state required to ratify the proposed amendment, which gave women the right to vote in 1920, and the deciding vote for the amendment was cast in Nashville. As such, travelers can find a wealth of events and exhibits all over the city throughout 2020 celebrating women’s rights and the suffragist movement.
The luxurious Hermitage Hotel played a vital role in the 19th-amendment ratification process, as a host to influential figures on both sides of the aisle. Now, visitors to the property can check out a newly installed exhibit of historic, related artifacts from 1920 in the hotel’s lobby, as well as attend the summer Suffrage Tea Series on the hotel’s veranda. The Oak Bar will likewise offer a suffrage-themed craft cocktail menu through August, and the hotel hosts a music series featuring female artists in the lobby on the first Fridays of June, July and August.
Singing a New Tune
Whatever your reason for visiting Nashville — business, pleasure, country music or culture — there’s certainly no shortage of new spots to eat, sleep and stay entertained; and, with multiple mixed-use developments undergoing construction, there’s no denying Nashville is no longer the Music City you thought you knew. The city is delighting luxury travelers as it continues to evolve into an absolute can’t-miss city in the American South.
You can find more information about Nashville and all its upcoming hotels, restaurants, developments, cultural attractions and events, at visitmusiccity.com.
To book a stay at one of the currently open, new hotel properties in Nashville, visit the Margaritaville Hotel Nashville website at margaritavillehotelnashville.com, or the 121 Hotel website at the121hotel.com. Book a table at the delicious Hathorne restaurant by visiting hathornenashville.com.
To learn more about the new National Museum of African American Music, visit nmaam.org. For a full list of Nashville 19th Amendment Centennial happenings, visit visitmusiccity.com/19thamendment, and for a full list of related events occurring at The Hermitage Hotel, visit thehermitagehotel.com/special-events.htm.