This story is part of our first-ever music special, which includes the results of our music survey, the resulting top music cities ranking and an in-depth look at the most travel-worthy music cities across the country. See all the coverage here.
Before it was the bachelorette party capital of the world, Nashville was Music City. And despite the city’s dramatic changes over the past decade or so, its backbone is still a musical staff. Even if you’re not cruising the legendary venues along Broadway, live music is still everywhere from cocktail lounges to the Elks Lodge. The musical ethos extends to hotels, too, which goes beyond expectations of any other city in the country. On-site recording spaces and common areas filled with musical instruments are a normal thing here. So if you’re looking to immerse yourself in music during your stay in Nashville, here are nine hotels worth looking into.
Traditionally, Graduate’s hotel interiors have been designed to reflect the history and culture of the nearest university. Not the case in Music City, where this Graduate decks itself out in tributes to the musicians and entertainers who’ve made the place famous. The lobby greets guests with an 8-foot-by-15-foot latch hook rug of Grand Ole Opry comedian Minnie Pearl. Inside the rooms, you’ll immediately lock eyes with a portrait of Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn over each bed. If that’s not enough Dolly for you, you can also opt for the 9 to 5 suite, a Parton-themed penthouse complete with disco ball tiled ceilings, pink feathers, shag carpet and a water bed.
The W has always been big into music, from the in-room sound studios in Seattle, LA Barcelona and Bali to curated playlists in every room. The Nashville outpost is no different: the lobby is done up in what look like acoustic tiles, and speakers off the main Living Room bar open up into a secret speakeasy. Rooms are adorned with original murals showing abstract depictions of music industry culture. At PROOF, the W’s rooftop bar, the walls are lined with rare and historic rock ‘n’ roll photos that make it as much an art gallery as a place to grab a drink.
The hip-and-funky Urban Cowboy set up shop in an old Victorian mansion in East Nashville. In addition to its array of creative, custom-designed suites, you can also post up in the main parlor and jam out on the hotel’s collection of instruments. That includes guitars, a piano and even an upright cello. There’s a cocktail bar right next to the playing room, too, so if your musical talents need a little liquid inspiration, you won’t have to go far.
For musicians visiting Nashville, no hotel offers better access to music venues and creative spaces than the Hutton. The 250-room property is just a few blocks from the bars and honky-tonks of Broadway. If you’re not up for battling every bachelorette party on the Eastern seaboard, you can simply head to Analog, the Hutton’s cocktail bar with live music. The Hutton goes even further for musicians, though, with two on-site Writers Studios with separate areas for guitars and vocals. Suites come with either Martin of Gibson guitars, and have acoustic elements that are equal parts design and sound absorption.
If you’re in town to experience the heart of country music, no place tells its story quite like the Country Music Hall of Fame. And no hotel gives you access to the hall of fame like the Omni, which is attached to the museum via a musically themed corridor. The Omni effectively serves as the Hall of Fame’s on-site hotel, and offers ticket packages for visitors interested in checking it out.
We’re in splurge territory now, but it’s worth noting that the Four Seasons gets in the musical spirit in a couple of ways. First, with its special Room Service by Gibson Guitars package. This starts with a Gibson guitar-themed welcome amenity, as well as an acoustic guitar in your room that’s yours to play while you’re there. You’ll also get a special tour of the Gibson Garage store in downtown Nashville that includes a trip to its secret vault and a chance to try your hand on some classic guitars. If you’d rather leave the music to the pros, the Four Seasons has a Suite Sounds package, where a local singer/songwriter puts on a private performance in your suite alongside a custom cocktail cart.
If you don’t know who Roger Murrah is, you likely know his songs. He’s the man who penned country hits like Waylon Jennings’ “A Man Called Hoss” and Oak Ridge Boys’ “Ozark Mountain Jubilee.” He hosts a regular songwriters’ night at the Harpeth Hotel in downtown Franklin, a Nashville suburb that’s become the bedroom community of choice for several A-list country stars. His evenings feature some of Nashville’s top songwriters telling the stories of their hits then playing them for the crowd. It’s basically what happens at the legendary Bluebird Café, transplanted to the Harpeth.
Downtown’s Cambria hotel also doubles as a live music venue. Head up to the fifth-floor lounge True Music, and you’ll typically find a small local act playing the snug space. When music isn’t on tap, the view from True Music is pretty fantastic, too, with an elevated perspective of the Nashville skyline.
If the Graduate’s 9 to 5 Suite just wasn’t enough Dolly for you, head a few hours east to Dollywood and the adjacent DreamMore Resort, where Dolly fanatics can live their best life in the top-floor Dolly Parton Suite. The pink, purple and gold palace is the resort’s penthouse, and is as close to living like Dolly Parton as any fan can get. That is, of course, unless they opt for a couple of nights on the Suite 1986 Tour Bus. The converted Prevost tour bus was Parton’s home away from home for 15 years, and the place where she wrote her “Backwoods Barbie” album and “9 to 5 the Musical.” A couple nights aboard the bus will run you about $10,000, but all the proceeds go to the Dollywood Foundation.