From the vibrant rush of Nashville and Knoxville to the rolling hills and inviting waterways along the Natchez Trace, Middle Tennessee will capture your heart and demand you kick back and stay awhile. Accommodations are half the charm! We’ve collected five amazing hotels to choose from, from big city life to charming small towns.
Disclaimer: Chere was hosted at the following hotels to get content for writing about them.
The Commodore, Linden
Fifteen years ago, Michael and Kathy Dumont of Rhode Island stumbled upon the small town of Linden, a hamlet off the Natchez Trace. They fell in love with the town’s old hotel, built in 1939 and lying dormant. The couple decided to make the quaint Middle Tennessee town their home, purchasing a 400-acre farm just outside the city limits, and making the hotel their pet project.
They lovingly restored the two-story hotel, which includes a lounge and dining area that serves both meals and entertainment, and opened The Historic Commodore Hotel in 2007. Visitors to the boutique hotel enter into an elegant lobby and access guest rooms upstairs by a dramatic staircase. Guest rooms include modern amenities but historic touches, such as exposed brick, original baths, nautical accents and antiques. The couple acquired and restored two historic buildings, both nearby, for additional accommodations.
The Commodore’s an ideal relaxation pause, whether stopping while traveling the Natchez Trace or for those wanting a Tennessee respite from the hurried life — and parking is free! Downtown Linden contains charming boutiques, day spas and artisan galleries. Couples may prefer a romance package complete with chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne or roses delivered to the room, then a massage only steps from the hotel.
The nearby Buffalo River offers easy access for paddlers and great fishing opportunities and the Dumonts will help for those who want to rent kayaks. The Tennessee River and Mousetail Landing State Park are also close by, great for hiking.
The Commodore Linden is also the place in Linden for live music. The Music Café brings in musicians and other performers on a regular basis. The hotel’s Speakeasy lounge serves up creative appetizers and entrees and craft cocktails and local wines.
But don’t take our word for it. In the first 15 years in existence, the hotel has attracted First Lady Jill Biden, History Channel’s “American Picker” Mike Wolfe, the Marshall Tucker Band and Tennessee Gov. Bill and First Lady Maria Lee. The hotel has been featured in national and regional media outlets including Forbes, AAA Magazine and “Today In Nashville.”
The Bobby, Nashville
One step inside The Bobby in the heart of downtown Nashville and visitors quickly realize this boutique hotel takes hospitality to an elevated level. Located in the city’s “Arts District,” the property exudes artwork everywhere, from the dramatic lobby chandelier made of car parts to the theme of old suitcases, including an elevator wall created from baggage ties.
The Bobby Hotel is in partnership with Tinney Contemporary, a Nashville art gallery, and is currently hosting the exhibition “A Fluid & Emphatic Now” featuring artists from Nashville, New Orleans, Los Angeles, New York City, and Miami. All pieces are available for purchase.
The hotel features unique guest rooms, some offering exquisite views of Nashville from the upper floors. Dining options include a coffee shop and Union Tavern serving up innovative dishes by Chef Ryan Poli. Down a flight of stairs and visitors access Bobby’s Garage, a speakeasy-type bar with entrance to Nashville’s historic Printer’s Alley and its blues and jazz clubs.
Drinks and a view await visitors at The Bobby’s Rooftop Lounge, but also a 1956 retrofitted Greyhound bus! How owners got that bus on the roof is something to pounder. Make sure to take a selfie in the driver’s seat, it will impress your friends.
The Tennessean/Marriott, Knoxville
Standing in the shadow of the Knoxville’s World Fair Park and its iconic Sunsphere towering over downtown are the new Marriott Knoxville Downtown hotel and its neighboring Tennessean Hotel. The World’s Fair celebrates its 40th anniversary this year — opened as the Knoxville International Energy Exposition in 1982 — and both hotels can link their development to the revitalization of downtown Knoxville thanks to that international event.
Both hotels offer luxury accommodations, meeting space and dining options, but what makes them both unique are the nods to Knoxville as a “Maker’s City.” The city is home to numerous artists and artisans and many of their creations can be found in these hotels.
Anchoring the Marriott is Maker’s Exchange, a gathering space, artistic showcase and culinary spot designed to highlight and embrace Knoxville’s creative maker community. Visitors may both enjoy the artwork and custom furnishings or purchase pieces in the hotel’s gallery space. There’s even unique coffee cups on display and for purchase in the Perk Up coffee shop.
The Marriott Knoxville Downtown, which opened earlier this year, contains 302 guest rooms, while the Tennessean offers 82. Both lie in the heart of downtown, close to attractions, Market Square and a collection of hip restaurants, bars, breweries and distilleries. Be sure to enjoy the Tennessean’s tea service in The Drawing Room, a delightful experience consisting of small bites, desserts and a special tea blend created specifically for the hotel.
Bode Chattanooga, Chattanooga
The circa-1922 building at 730 Chestnut St. in downtown Chattanooga enjoyed many incarnations — first a store, then offices and apartments, and now the Bode Chattanooga, a unique boutique hotel. Aspects of its past life remain: bike racks next to old apartment mailboxes, a lobby with few walls, industrial staircases.
But that’s its charm. The ground floor invites city residents to enjoy its work spaces, the Dawn coffee shop and Dusk lounge area with pool table, giant television and mini-market. For those who stay at the Bode, there’s no check-in, but instead a text with door code and instructions. Guest rooms feel like apartments, with full stocked kitchens, seating areas and private bedrooms and baths, each filled with fun artwork, games, free wifi and TV.
Our two-bedroom offered 900 square feet of space with each bedroom a separate room, one with an ensuite bath and the other next to the hall bath. The expansive living room included a couch and chairs and a ping-pong table opening to a full kitchen. Since we were in town for a wedding, we were able to invite family over for a comfortable gathering. And yes, we played ping-pong.
The company also owns Bode Nashville, which attracts a more transient party crowd. Families and those loving the outdoors tend to book Bode Chattanooga, we were told. Pets are welcome at both.
Leiper’s Fork Cottages, Leiper’s Fork
Outside of Nashville and at the top of the Natchez Trace Parkway lies Leiper’s Fork, a planned community sprung from some of the most beautiful rural areas in the country. The entire town is on the National Register of Historic Places and protected by The Land Trust for Tennessee. It’s small but oh, so charming, filled with boutique shops, the impressive Leiper’s Creek Gallery, great restaurants and Leiper’s Fork Distillery.
Naturally, since this is a community dedicated to keeping its original charm, there are no chain motels or hotels here. Instead, check into one of the Pot ’n Kettle cottages, adorable small retreats that allow guests to feel right at home.
We stayed at Pickers Cottage, built in 1939 and carefully restored and decorated with vintage accents but with all modern amenities. The cottage sits on almost an acre, so there’s a yard with fire pit to enjoy as well. The home offers three bedrooms, one master on the ground floor, a complete bedroom on the second with a queen bed and a sweet enclave with two twin beds. The first floor contains a full kitchen and living room, and the second an adorable seating area with mural.
The cottage was within an easy walk to all that Leiper’s Fork had to offer.
This article was written by Cheré Dastugue Coen, an award-winning Georgia food and travel writer, and author of the whimsical blog, Weird, Wacky and Wild South. A native of New Orleans, Cheré also writes popular fiction under the pen name of Cherie Claire.
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