Choosing a Hotel or Motel in Nashville

Let’s start with a little intel:

  • There are currently 12,000+ hotel rooms available in the Nashville area with another 5,000+ under construction or planned.
  • The average room rate in Fall 2019 (the most recent stats I’ve found) for the central business district was $225.63 per night, rivaling New York City, compared to the regional room rate of $150.28. I’m sure prices have increased significantly since then.
  • The least expensive nights are Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by Monday and Thursday. As suspected, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are highest.
  • The high cost of staying downtown is offset by what you may save on transportation because there’s so much to do within walking distance.
  • I’ve chosen to highlight some of the most unique lodgings, divided into categories (although some are indeed both historic and boutique-y).

♦  I’ll be adding to this list as new hotels open and I have more time for investigation.

Scroll to the end if you’d like to see if your favorite among 50+ well-known hotel chains are represented here. Until then, allow me to introduce you to a variety of interesting accommodations.

Historic Locations

Hermitage Hotel

Downtown. Classically elegant, The Hermitage is the only Tennessee hotel listed as a National Historic Landmark. This grand dame of Nashville opened its doors in 1910 and figured prominently into the passage of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. Designated a five-star hotel, it has been updated through the years and holds the distinction of offering larger than average accommodations. In 2022, famed restaurateur Jean-Georges reinvented its food-and-beverage program to create Drusie & Darr and The Pink Hermit. Friends John and Anne give high marks to their high tea service. (Pictured at top)

Union Station Hotel

Downtown. A sentimental favorite, my wife and I honeymooned in this handsome structure completed in 1900. To maintain the original design, the floor plan of some of the 125 rooms is a bit odd but the romance of the breathtaking grand lobby is what you’ll remember. A member of the Marriott Autograph collection, this former train station is ideally located midway between downtown attractions and The Gulch, and across the street from the new Nashville Yards entertainment complex.


Downtown. A formerly tony hotel when built in 1929, it eventually devolved into bland office space before experiencing rebirth when purchased in 2014. Its 224 rooms are completely modernized and its management works to offer unique experiences for guests including its  Hidden Bar speakeasy, MakeReady L&L restaurant, rooftop bar Rare Bird and lounge Trade Bar. Independently owned and managed, it placed 8th in the 2023 US News & World Report’s Nashville hotel survey.

Dream Nashville

Downtown. Two historic buildings–George A. Dickel’s Climax Saloon and the Utopia Hotel–were joined to create this 168-room hotel. While the facades harken back the late 1880s, the interior is sleek and modern.  The main entrance faces 4th Avenue, N. with a fittingly more clandestine entry leading to Printers Alley, once an infamous district of speakeasies and now a revived entertainment district. In keeping with that folklore, Dream Nashville offers patrons two tempting clubs, Dirty Little Secret and Snitch.

Fairlane Hotel

Downtown. Union Street was once a row of banking institutions. My aunt worked here as the assistant to an executive with the perfect bankerly name of Mr. Derryberry. They called it this structure the 401 Building. Constructed in 1972, it manages to balance refined dignity with contemporary touches. “Retro modern,” the promotional copy says. The location is strictly business–a plus if you like the idea of being a few blocks removed from the clamor of the tourist district.

Soho House

Wedgewood/Houston. Ever stayed in a sock factory? The members-only Soho House is located in the former May Hosiery Mill, the manufacturer that invented the crew sock and shod the astronauts who walked on the moon. Only 47 rooms in this four-story structure, it’s for guests who recognize high-end lodging isn’t restricted to shimmering skyscrapers. Located amid an emerging art and dining district, it’s a fun destination only 10 minutes from downtown.

The Russell

East Nashville. Constructed as a church in 1904 (where my great-uncle Lawrence was a member), investors decided to do more than restructure the building as 23 cheerfully appointed accommodations; they decided to restructure the lodging operations by embracing a self-service model and giving a portion of revenues to serve the less fortunate in Nashville. You check in via an emailed access code and do not have housekeeping service unless an emergency arises.

Luxury Hotels

Four Seasons Hotel

Downtown. Ultra convenient for those attending a Titans game, a concert at Ascend Amphitheater or an event at Bridgestone Arena, the 40-story Four Seasons ushers in a new generation in luxury accommodations and Nashville’s only hotel with a 5-diamond rating from AAA. Floor-to-ceiling windows create a sense of openness in each of the 235 well-appointed hotel rooms. The pool area on the seventh floor offers a stunning eastward view across the Cumberland River.

Grand Hyatt

Downtown. At 1000 Broadway, the Grand Hyatt is on the edge of The Gulch and within easy walking distance of Music City Center and major attractions without being in the thick of things. It’s home to Chef Sean Brock’s restaurant The Continental, one of the most anticipated dining experiences of the past year.

W Hotel

The Gulch. The W boasts 346 luxurious rooms and 60 suites incorporating seven different designs. It touts Nashville’s largest pool area. An interesting twist is their Sunnyside Sessions, live music with brunch on Saturdays, 11am-3pm.

21c Museum Hotel

Downtown. Unique in that it has its own museum–or more accurately, an art collection–the location is just beyond the bustle of the favorite tourist destinations ensuring a balance of convenience and calm. Its signature restaurant, Gray & Dudley, is often mentioned as among the finest new entry in the downtown area.

Funky Finds

Dive Motel

North. How retro is this motor court? There’s a mirrored ball in every room. Located in a ragged part of town experiencing a slow wave of gentrification, its ’70s decor makes it Instagram-ready. Maybe you’ll hit the bar when our friends Lucas and Tyson will be DJ-ing.

Urban Cowboy

East Nashville. Only eight experiential suites are contained in this renovated Victorian mansion, each with a unique interior design and furnishings. Gather in the Public House for signature cocktails and chat with other adventurers.

The Gallatin Hotel

East Nashville. Modern and mod, this reinvented church and educational wing offers candy-colored rooms with a staff-free set-up similar to its sister lodging The Russell.  In addition to traditional rooms and suites, The Gallatin offers 150 sq.ft. cozies for budget solo travelers as well as bunk rooms that accommodate up to 8 guests. Weeknight guests might score a rate as low as $125/nt.

The Vandyke Bed & Beverage

East Nashville. The name is not a misprint as is evidenced by the names of the eight rooms in this intimate establishment: Champagne, Rum, Gin. You get the picture. Each is uniquely decorated with a spirited flavor inspired by the potent potable for which its named. Original murals and framed art enhance the decor. “Beer” carries a retro athletic vibe while with original murals and framed art while “Tequila” takes on a tropical tone. Downstairs is a bar specializing in designer drinks that draws together both guests and East Nashville neighbors.

Gaylord Opryland Hotel

Donelson. So big, it gets its own category! With more than 2,800 rooms and suites, meet the mothership of Nashville lodging. It boasts a massive convention center, more than a dozen eateries, a boat ride, a huge indoor-outdoor water park called SoundWaves and an adjacent 18-hole golf course. The building is beautiful and its elaborately landscaped atriums are spectacular. But allow me to offer a few words of advice: Prepare to do A LOT of walking because everything is spread out. Since it is essentially self-contained, guests are a captive audience so prices can be steep and Opryland Hotel charges for everything including surface lot parking. During the Christmas season, it’s truly a winter wonderland…and crowded. A number of more affordable hotels are in the immediate area including The Inn at Opryland which is under the same ownership.

Boutique Hotels

The Bobby

Downtown. What’s unique about this downtown hotel? For one thing, they have a 1956 ScenicCruiser bus perched poolside on their rooftop deck. I like the size–144 rooms–so it’s big enough to have strong amenities but you don’t feel overwhelmed by crowds. And the interior design is endlessly intriguing. Pet-friendly.

The Thompson

The Gulch. Even though he’s a local, my neighbor chooses The Thompson’s rooftop bar L.A. Jackson when he wants to chill with friends. He’s also a fan of its premier restaurant Marsh House. The hotel does have a handle of urban sophistication with touches of rustic charm. With floor-to-ceiling windows, the 224 rooms and suites seem larger and offer lovely views of the surrounding area. A novel touch: if you want to cruise the neighborhood, The Thompson rents a golf-cart-like vehicle called a Moke by the hour or the day.

Thrifty Travelers

FYI, we don’t currently have any hostels in Nashville and I’m not going to recommend sketchy motels with low, low rates. That said, a general rule is that your lodging dollar buys more if you stay outside of downtown. A Hampton Inn 10 miles from downtown will be cheaper than one four blocks off Broadway. Near the airport, Brentwood and Bellevue will show lower rates but, if you want to be close to or in downtown, here are my best bets:

Clarion Hotel

East Nashville. Because it’s located in an industrial district on the East Bank, locals don’t speak highly of it. I consider it underrated. Use their free shuttle or catch a rideshare and you’re downtown in 5 minutes. You can even walk (but I don’t recommend it after dark). The closest neighborhood for dining and shopping is just across the Jefferson Street bridge in Germantown. Renovated a couple of years ago, it’s an affordable island in a not-great neighborhood.

Capitol Hotel Downtown

Downtown. Often overlooked, this refurbished motor court is a few blocks from most tourist activity but very accessible. Prices aren’t low but lower than the nearby boutique hotels. It ascribes to the quality standards of its management, Choice Hotels, with free WiFi, a breakfast bar and an in-room fridge–nice cost-savers.

Scarritt-Bennett House

Midtown. Partiers need not apply at this retreat center that’s part of Scarritt College, founded as a school for Christian workers. Likely the cheapest place to stay in Midtown, rates start at $80/night. The suite-style rooms with private bathrooms are fairly spartan, accessorized with a microwave, coffeemaker, mini-fridge and TV.

Major Chains

Are you brand-loyal? Got points to use? Most major brands have locations here.

Choice: Ascend, Cambria, Quality Inn, Comfort, Clarion, Clarion Pointe, MainStay Suites, EconoLodge

Hilton: Doubletree, Conrad, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton, Homewood Suites, Home2 Suites, Hotel Fraye,

Hyatt: Hyatt Centric, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt House, Hyatt Place, Hyatt Regency, Thompson Hotels,

IHG: Kimpton, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites, avid,

Marriott: JW Marriott, Moxy, Sheraton, Residence Inn, Fairfield, Towneplace Suites, W Hotels, Gaylord (Opryland Hotel), AC Hotels, Element, Westin, Courtyard by Marriott, Aloft

Radisson: Radisson, Country Inn & Suites

Wyndham: Ramada, Days Inn, La Quinta, Howard Johnson, Baymont, Travelodge, Wyndham, Microtel, Wingate, Super 8, Hawthorn