A Classy Getaway at Nashville’s Historic Hermitage Hotel
Maybe you’re not ready to hop on a plane yet. I understand. But there’s no reason you can’t have a travel experience in your own hometown.
I live in a suburb of Nashville, one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. Over 100 people move to Nashville every day, and it’s one of the most popular destinations for bachelorette parties. I hardly recognize the downtown area anymore.
Whenever my friends come to Nashville, they rave about touring the Ryman Auditorium, the Parthenon, Belle Meade Plantation, the Carnton Mansion, Hatch Show Print or the Frist Art Museum. I’d always feel a little embarrassed because I’ve still never done those things and I consider myself a local.
I think all of us could benefit from getting to know our own hometown so we can be as knowledgeable about the most popular attractions as a common tourist.
The Hermitage Hotel: Where Luxury and History Intersect
Last weekend my husband and I went to the Hermitage Hotel, one of the cherished landmarks of downtown Nashville. Known for its distinctive blend of French and Italian Renaissance architecture, the Hermitage Hotel is Nashville’s first million-dollar hotel.
The first feature you notice when you walk into the lobby is the intricately painted glass skylight.
Fresh roses are on each table. The yellow rose is an appropriate reminder that the Hermitage Hotel was central to the women’s suffrage movement. In 1920, the Hermitage Hotel served as the national headquarters for the pro and anti-suffrage initiatives.
Many presidents stayed at the Hermitage Hotel, including Woodrow Wilson, Nixon, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton and Bush, as other prominent historical figures like Babe Ruth and John Dillinger. Charlie Chaplin even made an appearance once.
I have visited the Hermitage Hotel on many occasions for a travel agent event called the Preferred Hotels and Resorts’ Summer Showcase, so I had high expectations for my stay.
I was immediately impressed that, upon arriving at the hotel, I was greeted at the entrance and asked if I needed assistance with my bags. A greeter is a trademark of an upscale hotel, and I appreciated the smiling welcome.
As soon as I walked in, I noticed the pleasant smell of the hotel. I soon found out The Hermitage Hotel has its own signature scent, and they sell the essential oil in the gift shop, Rachel’s Boutique. Usually, I wait until the end of my trip to purchase a souvenir, but I couldn’t wait. After we checked in, Mark and I bought a bottle of room fragrance as well as a yellow rose Christmas ornament.
The Hermitage Hotel required guests to wear face masks at all times, except when eating or drinking. At check-in, we received a welcome bag with two face masks, hand sanitizer and an information packet about the hotel. The staff posted signs throughout the property, reminding guests to wear masks, use hand sanitizer and use appropriate social distancing.
In the afternoons, the hotel offers complimentary lemonade and yellow rose lemon shortbread cookies. Mark and I enjoyed a cookie and lemonade on the covered terrace, and we had a conversation about how far our country has come in the past 100 years, and how far we still need to go.
Room Selection at The Hermitage Hotel
Our room was on the fifth floor overlooking the historic Nashville Capitol building. Initially, I was uneasy because our room was directly across from the elevator but we were the only guests on the entire floor.
We chose The Grand Deluxe Room. These rooms are 590 square feet and overlook the Capitol and rolling hills of downtown Nashville. Although the room was decorated in the turn-of-the-century style with dark woods and gold accents, it had all the modern conveniences like a spacious bathroom with double vanities, a deep soaking tub and a separate rain shower. My favorite feature was the signature, locally hand-crafted bed with Frette linens. The bed was so comfortable, and I soon found out why. The mattresses are custom-made and hand-tufted. The room also included three different types of pillows: memory foam, buckwheat and down feathers. Another signature of a luxury hotel is evening turn-down service, and this was a pleasant surprise.
Amenities at The Hermitage Hotel
All rooms at The Hermitage Hotel offer:
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Plush robes
- Bose docking stations
- Molton Brown toiletries
Special Celebrations at The Hermitage Hotel
Mark and I were celebrating our 22nd wedding anniversary, and I mentioned this fact at check-in. When I make a guest booking, I notify the hotel of any birthdays, anniversaries or other celebrations. This gives the opportunity for the hotel to recognize the milestone in any way they see fit. Sometimes the front desk will provide them with a special greeting, or other times they may offer a small gift or a card.
I tell guests never to expect an upgrade because of a special event. You may ask to pay for an upgrade, but you should never expect the hotel to grant you an upgrade because it is your special day. In general, I ask my guests to choose the room category they will be most happy with, and I encourage them not to book the entry-level category. A basic room often means you will overlook a parking lot or an air conditioner. It is worth the extra money to get the room you want.
The Hermitage Hotel generously surprised us with a small gift to celebrate our anniversary. Around 4:30 p.m., we answered a knock on our door and it was a staff member holding a glass-domed plate of beautifully dipped strawberries with gold flecks and a hand-written card wishing us a Happy Anniversary. Mark had purchased a bottle of champagne earlier, so the strawberries were a perfect accompaniment.
Dining at The Capitol Grille
That evening, we ate dinner at The Capitol Grille, the fine dining restaurant at The Hermitage Hotel. The restaurant modified the layout of the tables and limited the occupancy to stay within the social distancing guidelines. We found it pleasant that the restaurant was not crowded, and our server was efficient and pleasant.
For our cocktails, Mark ordered an Old Fashioned, his favorite drink, and I ordered the Violets and Lace, a gin-based cocktail with elderflower, lemon juice and crème de violette. This cocktail was featured in Native Magazine as the cocktail of the month. I would have ordered it just for the gorgeous lavender color.
We shared the Strawberry Salad for our appetizer. We have learned from experience that sharing an appetizer, entrée and dessert allows us to enjoy our meal without feeling uncomfortably full at the end of the evening. This salad was beautiful! The salad was supposed to be on a bed of arugula, but the kitchen substituted spinach instead. We would have preferred the peppery arugula greens, but the spinach leaves were tender and fresh. There were fresh strawberries on the salad as well as freeze-dried, which enhanced the strawberry flavor.
The salad also had candied fennel, something I have never tried before, but the sweet licorice taste of the fennel complemented the tartness of the freeze-dried berries and the mild, salty burrata cheese. The dressing was my favorite: a Meyer lemon dressing. This dressing was more like a spritz. It was so bright and zingy, and the kitchen must have dressed the salad immediately before serving because the spinach leaves were still crisp.
For our shared entrée, we chose the five-ounce Prime Filet with an optional Green Peppercorn Cream sauce. There were three sauces to choose from (at an additional cost), and the pepper sauce was plentiful and delicious. As sides, we chose the Rainbow Carrots and Spring Peas with Fresh Herbs, and the Potato Puree with Chives and Buttermilk.
The chef prepared the steak medium-rare, just to our liking, and there was enough pepper sauce to spoon over the steak as well as the potato puree. The rainbow carrots were halved and simply sautéed in butter with a sprinkle of mixed herbs. We both agreed that, although each course featured just a few ingredients, they were equally satisfying. Our dining experience at The Capitol Grille shows that fine ingredients and exquisite preparation are the key components of a gourmet meal.
For dessert, we chose the Chocolate Dream Sundae, which featured chocolate cake, double chocolate ice cream, chocolate marshmallows, warm chocolate fudge, toasted pecan pieces and toffee bits. When our server presented the plate, we were surprised at how small the portion was, but with the toppings, it was a perfect amount. The chef wrote, “I dream in chocolate” on the wide rim, and it made for a beautiful photo. We didn’t leave a crumb remaining, but the dessert was so rich that we couldn’t have eaten another bite.
Our leisurely meal lasted over two hours, but we enjoyed it immensely. After our short walk back to our room, we were ready for bed when we saw that the covers were turned down. We were going to get up early to go hiking at Burgess Falls near Cookeville, and the turndown service was a sweet invitation to get a full night’s sleep.
The Hermitage Hotel made the check-out process easier than ever during COVID. The nighttime auditor slid our bill under our door, and there was no need to go down to the front desk. We made a swift exit to the Nashville Library Parking Garage (our favorite place to park downtown), and we were off to Burgess Falls for a morning hike.
Mark and I immensely enjoyed our overnight at The Hermitage Hotel, and our getaway felt longer because of the elegant hospitality. We look forward to visiting again soon, even if we can only stay for dinner at the Capitol Grille.
Do You Get Paid for Writing These Reviews?
People ask me this question all the time: do you get free stuff in exchange for writing positive reviews? Absolutely not. Nobody asks me to write anything and no one pays me for my reviews. I do not have any advertising on my blog page (not yet, at least), so I don’t get a penny for writing reviews. In fact, The Hermitage Hotel did not know I was intending to blog about my experience.
I write these because I love traveling, and it is my passion. I also see it as my responsibility to be the first to set foot in a hotel or on a plane, and to prime the pump with my own money so the travel industry can recover from billions of dollars in COVID-related losses.
So yes, I paid for our stay at The Hermitage Hotel as well as our meal at The Capitol Grille, and I wrote my honest opinion. If something bad happened, I would tell you, but I have nothing negative to share. It was an A+ experience.
Now, I sometimes receive a travel agent discount on a hotel stay, and I was able to obtain a travel industry rate to reduce our room cost. However, most hotels offer discounts for anything from a AAA membership to a military discount. There was no discount for dinner, though, and we paid full-price.
Hotel Booking Tips
I always leave you with tips and suggestions in each of my blog posts, so here are some tips about making hotel reservations for your next in-town or cross-country getaway:
- Book with a travel advisor. A travel agent will be able to provide you with the best service because he or she can ask for specific requests to make your stay more pleasant and enjoyable. Please reach out to me by clicking here to plan your special getaway to The Hermitage Hotel. Ask me about weddings and groups at the Hermitage Hotel, as well as the upcoming Centennial Event to celebrate the anniversary of the 19th Amendment and Women’s Suffrage.
- Book the room category that you want. Do not expect an upgrade. If you want a room with a view, expect to pay the extra cost. If you will not be satisfied looking at a parking lot or the service alley, select a higher room category. I still have not spoken to a guest who told me that paying for the upgraded room wasn’t worth the additional cost.
- Ask your travel agent to request an early check-in or a late check-out. We asked for an early check-in at The Hermitage Hotel because we were checking out early the following day. I simply called on the morning of our check-in, and the front desk was glad to grant my request. I am always looking for ways to add value to my vacation experiences, and an early check-in helped us to feel like the higher price point of this hotel was worth the investment.
Thanks for reading my post today. Please comment below about what you found most helpful. You can also make a suggestion about where I travel next.
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Stay tuned for my next blog post about my trip to four all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica. I just returned last week, and I’ll begin that post soon. I leave for Disney World in just a few hours, so a Disney post will follow as well.
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