Grandeur and Legacy: Tennessee’s Iconic Historic Hotels

Steve Heap /



From a historic bakery turned boutique hotel to a Nashville icon that accommodated former presidents, Tennessee’s historic hotels are a must-stay. Experience the 1920s in Chattanooga, witness ducks on parade in Memphis and relive the days of bustling trainyards in Nashville.

Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for a unique place to spend the weekend, here are some of the best historic hotels to relax when visiting Tennessee.

The Hermitage Hotel (Nashville)

Standing proudly as a living testament to Nashville’s rich history, this iconic historic gem has graced the streets of Music City since 1910. From the moment you step into its grand lobby, adorned with ornate chandeliers and marble columns, you are transported to a bygone era of sophistication and refinement. Wander through the preserved corridors where legendary guests such as Woodrow Wilson and Bill Clinton once walked. Indulge on world-class cuisine at Drusie & Dar, the hotel’s flagship restaurant, where you’ll dine under crystal chandeliers. Or stop by Rose, a premier gift shop selling jewelry, travel guides and exclusive home goods.

The Read House (Chattanooga)

Experience the roaring twenties in Chattanooga at The Read House. This speakeasy-style hotel is a tribute to the Jazz Age, radiating the spirit of the times with its exquisite Georgian architecture. Opened in 1926, this hotel has welcomed a string of famous guests, from Winston Churchill to Al Capone. Are you a fan of the paranormal? Room 311 is infamous for being haunted by Annalisa Netherly — following her alleged beheading by an ex-lover in the bathroom in 1927. Nearby, take a stroll along the Riverwalk or visit the Tennessee Aquarium.

General Morgan Inn and Conference Center (Greeneville)

Nestled near the Appalachian foothills in the town of Greeneville, The General Morgan Inn and Conference Center has been hosting guests since 1886. Named after Confederate General John Hunt Morgan, this inn offers guests a glimpse into a bygone era with its marble accent walls, low-hanging glittering chandeliers and rustic charm. Tour the in-house Mason Art Gallery, dine at the iconic Brumley’s restaurant and relax in one of the many suites featuring fireplaces and private entries. Beyond the hotel, visit attractions such as the historic Dickson-Williams Mansion and the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, where guests can explore the home and tailor shop of the 17th U.S. president.

The Oliver Hotel (Knoxville)

Originally opened as a bakery in 1876, The Oliver Hotel is now a modern boutique hotel near Knoxville’s Market Square. Featuring 28 rooms, this charming space provides sophisticated accommodations with colorful chic décor while still maintaining the building’s historical relevance. Hop on one of the hotel’s bikes and explore Knoxville’s parks, museums and historical sites. Enjoy a meal at the in-house restaurant, Oliver Royale, featuring a New American menu of seasonal plates. Or spend the evening listening to live music while sipping on a barrel-aged bourbon.

The Union Station Nashville Yards (Nashville)

Once the bustling center of Nashville’s railway system, The Union Station Nashville Yards offers a unique blend of history and luxury. Opened in 1900, the newly renovated hotel now offers modern décor but retains the stunning Romanesque architecture, with its towering arches and elaborate stonework, as well as original art from when it operated as a train terminal. Thanks to its prime location, you’re just a short stroll from the honky-tonks of Broadway, the Ryman Auditorium — often referred to as the “Mother Church of Country Music” — and the Frist Art Museum.

The Peabody Memphis (Memphis)

In the vibrant city of Memphis, you’ll encounter a different kind of history — one that’s dappled with — ducks? Yes, you read that right! The resident ducks of The Peabody Memphis are local celebrities marching daily to the lobby fountain (an event known as the Duck March). But the Peabody isn’t just about feathered fun; it’s also about grandeur. Opened in 1869, this sample of Memphis elegance boasts an Italian Renaissance design and hosts some of the best rooftop parties in the city. Enjoy a cocktail with panoramic views of the Mississippi River as local bands bring the entertainment. Nearby, explore the historic Beale Street District (the birthplace of blues) or visit the iconic Graceland (the home of Elvis Presley).

The Olde Mill Bed and Breakfast (Cumberland Gap)

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and retreat to quaint Cumberland Gap National Historical Park – home to The Olde Mill Bed and Breakfast. Featuring only eight rooms (one is a 1700s log cabin), this charming bed and breakfast offers a unique retreat just steps from the National Park hiking trails. Don’t miss a sunset from Pinnacle Overlook, just an hour’s walk on the Wilderness Road Trail.

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