By Tomeka Allgood
The Hermitage Hotel is Nashville’s only Five-Star, Five-Diamond hotel. Yes, that’s right, the one and only of its caliber in the popular city. That is because this historic establishment is also Nashville’s first million dollar hotel. From the time the doors of the hotel opened, it became a favorite place for high profile guests and events.
The hotel’s construction began in 1908. Looking at Nashville’s skyline today, it is hard to imagine it without a cluster of tall buildings. The Hermitage Hotel became just the third skyscraper in the city’s history with a height of 10 stories. September 17, 1910 was the grand opening night for the hotel and it was filled with the crème de la crème of the Nashville community. They dined while enjoying music from an orchestra brought in from the world-famous Waldorf-Astoria New York.
Governors have briefly resided in the hotel while waiting to take office. Several presidents have visited with Taft being the first in 1911. A who’s who list compiled of history’s most well-known characters from Babe Ruth to John Dillinger have been guest of the hotel. Being in what is known as Music City means the Hermitage Hotel must be part of music history as well, right? Right! The meeting rooms at the hotel is where the Country Music Association was formed in the 1950s. The hotel has hosted some country music legends over the years. Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, The Dixie Chicks and Taylor Swift have all been spotted there. In addition, Dinah Shore the legend herself, had her first live radio broadcast from here on WSM radio.
The architecture of the hotel takes guest back to a classic old world style. Tennessee marble was used on the lobby floors along with Italian marble on the huge columns. The oversized lobby, grand staircase, the downstairs Grill Room, and public areas were designed by Tennessee native J.E.R. Carpenter. He was one of the top, if not the top architect in the early 1900s. Mr. Carpenter is credited with many of New York’s luxury high-rise residential apartment buildings, several that still exist today. The painted glass skylight was a focal point of the lobby. According to the hotel’s website, the ornamental plasterwork was said to be the largest contract of its type south of the Ohio River. The terra cotta tiles—interior and exterior—provided a refined display of classical craftsmanship. No expense was spared and it was obvious why this became the city’s first million-dollar hotel over a hundred years ago.
The hotel was closed for a complete renovation in 2002. It was transformed into what is now a luxurious boutique hotel. Even with the renovation, the hotel retained its warm southern hospitality that has existed a hundred years earlier. Throughout the hotel and guestrooms, it is noticeable that the modern hotel’s designers made sure to keep the history within the details of the updates. Several pieces of furniture in the hotel are custom made for The Hermitage Hotel. It may surprise some guest to know that the antique phones located by the elevators actually work and are not just for decoration.
The hotel offers six room types that range from the jaw dropping 1,500 square feet Presidential Suite to the just under 500 square feet deluxe room. Each spacious guestroom throughout property has a similar color scheme and historic feel. All the rooms, even with the updates give visitors a glimpse into a time capsule back to yesteryear. The one thing that wasn’t overlooked by the hotel was making sure at the end of the day each person staying at the hotel is able to rest well.
The beds are decorated with soft bedding on top of the same mattresses used by the British royal family. If a guest enjoys the custom-made mattresses as much as the royal family, they can let the hotel know and order one for their home too. The luxurious bathrooms with separate tub and shower have mirrors with televisions built in them. I was in a Jr. Suite and that is standard. Honestly, that was the first time I had ever seen a television inside a mirror before in real life, so color me impressed. In every room, additional thoughtful touches add to the comfort level of each guest: plush robes, complimentary Wi-Fi, Bose docking stations and an in-room pillow menu located in the closet. In addition to the television found in the bathroom mirror, rooms come with a 42” flat-screen, unless they are staying in the larger suites. In that case, they will enjoy a 65″ flat-screen.
Food + Bar
Located downstairs inside the Hermitage Hotel, Capitol Grille is the oldest and longest-running Southern restaurant in the state according their website. From the first day the hotel opened its doors until today, fine dining and outstanding service has been key in the success of the restaurant. As with any successful restaurant, the food has to be above average in order to be one of the best places to eat in Nashville.
The Hermitage Hotel owns a land trust farm located approximately four miles away from the hotel. That means the restaurant serves fresh food direct from their own garden. The hotel plants, grows and harvest all vegetables on the farm for Capitol Grille dishes. How many restaurants can say that? They are serious about making sure they only serve beef from their herd of cattle located on the farm. All cows are grass fed and free to roam the land at their leisure.
Oak Bar is located adjacent to the Capitol Grille and is considered one of Nashville’s best bars. It originally opened as a private gentleman’s club in 1910 and is where the tap room was during Prohibition. The bar’s claim to fame came during that era when it was caught serving teapots filled with bourbon. Today, the bar currently has the largest collection of bourbons in Nashville. They have 130 bottles, which includes 1 bottle of the world renowned Pappy Van Winkle (there’s only 3 bottles in the entire state of Tennessee).
There’s no way this article can be completed without mentioning the bathroom! Yes, the men’s bathroom right across from the bar has been named one of the best bathrooms in the world by Condé Nast Traveler. Reconstructed in the 1930s, the green and black glass tile and shoe shine station are infamous. The bathroom itself is a popular instagrammable place of locals and tourist alike. So, fellas don’t be surprised if you walk into the bathroom and one or a group of women are there taking pictures. Being in Nashville, this bathroom has been in many music videos and you never know who you may run into there. The plaque outside of the bathroom explains it all. Many have requested to keep the bathroom preserved to how it looked in the 1930s.
If you go: Located in downtown Nashville at 231 6th Avenue North. The hotel has an on-site spa that offers a wide range of services. Feel free to bring your fur baby along too because the hotel is a pet friendly property. Make your reservation directly on The Hermitage Hotel website where you can find the latest packages and promotions. For more information, contact the hotel direct: The Hermitage Hotel or call: +1 615.244.3121 for Reservations: 1 888.888.9414
All photos by Tomeka Allgood