Hotel Review: A Deluxe Room at the Sheraton Grand Nashville Downtown
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Arriving in Music City for a national trade show at the nearby convention center, I was very excited to stay at the newly remodeled Sheraton Grand Nashville Downtown — a former Hyatt property taken over by SPG a year and a half ago and treated to a $25 million renovation. While the hotel itself was nice looking, Sheraton needs to take a closer look at its service, amenities, and, most importantly, the building's erratic fire alarm system.
After considering many downtown Nashville hotels, I settled on the Sheraton and was able to lock in a $189 per night rate ($220.32 per night including taxes and fees) and my grand total for a five-night stay came to $1,101.60. I earned 3x points per dollar for a total of 3,304 Starpoints since I have SPG Gold status and booked the stay with my Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express.
At the time, the room could've also been reserved for 16,000 Starpoints per night, but given TPG's current valuation of Starpoints at 2.7 cents apiece, that redemption wouldn’t have made sense since the conversion comes out to about $432. Another option was to book the room for 6,000 Starpoints plus $110 per night when the Points + Cash option is available — but, again, this wasn't ideal because I was able to reserve the room for $189 per night in cash.
Check-In and Lobby
After a 15-minute Uber ride from the airport, the hotel exterior was immediately in sight. As soon as I pulled up, the bell staff were right there to assist me with my luggage. This same amount of speediness also applied the other times I entered the hotel, and each time, a staff member opened the doors and welcomed me back.
Upon entering, I immediately noticed a magnificent atrium full of flowers and bright lights. Unfortunately, in the main lobby and entrance area, the service seemed nonexistent — guests have to either go up to the front desk or to the outside bell desk for assistance since there's no dedicated concierge area.
Since the hotel is close to the Nashville Convention Center, don't be surprised by high levels of occupancy during events. To the left and right of the entrance are roomy seating areas that can get crowded during the morning and evening hours while people wait for transportation. I highly recommend requesting a room on one of the higher floors so your sleep won't be interrupted by any noise coming from the lobby.
This building reminded me of how Embassy Suites properties are designed since the atrium is nearly 25 stories high and features wraparound hallway room access. The lobby atrium area is attractive, with beautifully deigned globe-shaped lights and elevators that were often busy during morning and evening rush hour.
Looking down from the 14th floor certainly isn't for everyone, but you'll get a magnificent glimpse of the lobby area from above.
After exploring a little, it was time to check in with the front desk staff. Because of my SPG Gold status, I was able to check in at the elite desk, but other than having a designated reception area, the perks here weren't nearly as lucrative as I would have liked. Although not many come with this tier, the few that do weren't initially offered to me and I had to actually request my welcome gift, which is either 250 points or two coupons for free drinks. I generally go for the points, but was offered four drink coupons this time instead for the inconvenience.
As an SPG Gold member, you're also entitled to receive two complimentary water bottles per night. In the past, at every other SPG property, the water bottles have always been in the room, but Sheraton made things a little more difficult. Each night, when I came back from dinner, I had to call down and personally request that the bottles be brought up to my room. Even though it's just a minor inconvenience, I thought it was strange that housekeeping staff (and management) wouldn't just put them in the room to begin with.
As I was checking in, I was also told about the hotel's complimentary shuttle service. After I told the agent that I'd certainly like to use it, I was given the direct number of the bus driver so I could arrange transportation quickly whenever I needed it. Note that while the service itself is free, drivers did appreciate a small tip — an ATM is conveniently located near the lobby bar.
Although the main renovations are nearly complete, the maintenance team was still painting around the lobby, but mostly at night. I didn't see the need for a fresh coat of paint, but it was nice to see that management wanted to keep the lobby looking fresh.
After receiving my keys and confirming the dates of my stay with the check-in agent, I was on my way up to the 14th floor to see my Deluxe Room. After dedicating so much time and money to renovating the property, it seems that they somehow missed the elevator, as the buttons and the general aesthetic inside seemed outdated.
There could have been a little more creativity with the color schemes — all that white just makes everything feel sterile and doesn't stand out as much as it could.
The bland palatte continued in the room, with patterned wallpaper in the entryway and (very) yellow lighting in the bathroom — you'll see what I mean soon.
The Deluxe Room is the same room type as the Traditional Room, the only real difference being that Deluxe accommodations are on floors 9 through 22 while Traditional Rooms are located on floors 3 through 8. While the room provides only 338-square-feet of space, it felt neither small nor cramped.
Housekeeping wasn't very impressive throughout my stay — the sheets, even at check-in, didn't seem to be pressed and were actually quite wrinkled. The bedding, however, was comfortable and made for a great night's sleep.
I wasn't surprised to see that the paintings in the room displayed above the beds represented some of the city's history and added a homey, nostalgic feeling.
The desk area was connected to the dresser, which offered a great amount of space to put my personal items. The room also featured a 47-inch flatscreen TV, which at times froze while I was watching the news; I took this as a sign of bad cable reception.
The sitting area had a comfortable (but small) blue lounge chair, along with a sleek (and, again, small) white coffee table.
The ice bucket and Mr. Coffee machine were standard fare and I was able to brew my own Starbucks coffee from the provided packets.
Though I didn't have room service on this trip, the menu was extensive but only offered food until 11:00pm, so don't expect to have your late-night snack cravings fulfilled at 3:00am.
The bathroom's strange, vertical wallpaper was overpowered by the bright — and very yellow — lights.
While the bathroom was very clean, sleek, modern and well organized, the shampoo, conditioner and lotion amenities were unremarkable.
The bathroom felt extremely cramped since the combination shower/tub was quite small. The water pressure was weak as well.
Bath and hand towels were replaced daily, and housekeeping was very quick to respond when I called for extra towels late at night.
Our neighbors had ordered breakfast, and I noticed the tray was still sitting in the hallway later that evening, a simple thing that should have been taken care of by housekeeping much sooner than that.
I'd just like to point out that the "Please Do Not Disturb" sign means exactly what it says: Please Do Not Disturb. While I didn't encounter any issues with this, my colleague had placed her sign on the door when she left her room in the morning (since she didn't want her room cleaned) but to her dismay, she came back to see the sign had been removed from her door and the room cleaned. In my opinion, this should not have occurred.
Not One, but Two Fire Alarms in the Middle of the Night
No one wants to be woken up in the middle of the night because of a fire alarm. But it happens. I experienced this at exactly 3:22am. It was one of those alarms that's so loud it's nearly impossible to even stay in the room due to the deafening noise. And being located on the 14th floor did not make for a fun trip downstairs while everyone was essentially half asleep. As I prepared to evacuate the room, I called 911 to confirm that the local fire department was on its way to the hotel — they weren't — and the 911 operator said they had not yet been notified. Luckily, we only had to wait outside for 30 minutes, instead of what could have been much longer.
Unbelievably, exactly 24 hours later, it went off again. Luckily, this time, the obnoxious noise only sounded for about three minutes and then was turned off. The next morning, a member of the hotel staff told me that the alarm malfunctions about every three or four months. Hopefully, the hotel will investigate and fix this problem.
At checkout, like many other guests, I inquired to see what management was offering to compensate for the two interrupted nights of sleep. After going back and forth a bit, I was offered compensation that was satisfactory and showed that the staff did care about this unpleasant occurrence — two free nights (a value of about $440) and 10,000 Starpoints, not bad!
Food and Beverage
Surprisingly, the hotel didn't offer a full sit-down restaurant for lunch or dinner. While it was a blessing in disguise (as downtown Nashville offers a wide variety of delicious restaurants), a large hotel near the Convention Center should know that many guests prefer to dine in-house after a long day. Instead, there's a bar, which also acts as the lunch and dinner "restaurant," though seating is mostly lounge chairs, sofas or bar stools.
The bar was comfortable and relaxing. The pool table, friendly staff, great mixed drinks and selection of pub grub made it a fun place to unwind — but there's no way it should be called a restaurant.
I had one meal in the bar — lunch before check-out — and was not disappointed with the service or the quality of the food. The grilled chicken sandwich, served with french fries, and the chicken caesar salad were both tasty and came out in about 10 minutes. The server joked about having a private chef in the back since the food was served so quickly.
In the lobby area, the gift shop/cafe offered freshly-brewed Starbucks coffee beginning at 6:30am.
The morning after the second fire alarm went off, a complimentary hot cocoa station was set up in the lobby. I cannot confirm this, but my theory is that it was provided as a small apology for the inconvenience.
As I mentioned before, the elevators need to be spruced up. The sign inside one of them directs guests to the Speaker's Bistro on the second floor, and after further investigation, I found out this was the name of the hotel's old restaurant. The new dining area, also located on the second floor, is called the Broadway Kitchen, and was only open for breakfast.
As I mentioned earlier, this is not a restaurant per se because it does not serve lunch or dinner. I had no complaints about the overall atmosphere. But I was surprised that this area closes at 11:00am. This made me think guests' needs aren't really being taken into consideration, as the space and kitchen are already here.
The incredibly fast "Premium" Wi-Fi offered to elite members didn't disappoint and I was able to get some work done at a very quick, efficient and painless pace.
Hands down, my favorite part of staying at this hotel was taking its complimentary shuttle service for a spin — anywhere within a 10-mile radius, that is (unfortunately, this doesn't include the airport). Between the hours of 7:00am and 10:30pm, all you need to do is call the driver directly. The shuttle driver was not only extremely friendly, but very accommodating while performing the pick-ups and drop-offs. It was nice to ride around Music City in the brand-new Mercedes-Benz "limo bus." Between this and Uber, there was no need for me to rent a car during my five-night stay.
The business center was located in the lobby area, although I didn't need to visit it because the in-room Wi-Fi was so efficient.
The ice machine was located in a storage closet filled with many housekeeping supplies, which I thought was very strange — in my opinion, the supplies should be relocated to a place that's away from guests' eyes. Another problem that should be addressed and future hotel guests should be prepared for: There are no vending machines even though the signs clearly state there are both vending and ice machines. Maybe it's another detail they missed during the renovation?
Once you motivate yourself to go to the gym, you'll have to take a mini-hike down some stairs and through a long hallway.
A nicely equipped facility and a quiet atmosphere made this a great space to squeeze in a quick workout.
While it may not be a full-size gym, it was impressive enough for a downtown hotel.
Towels are at your disposal as well, available chilled or dry.
The cardio room is full of treadmills, elliptical trainers and exercise bikes.
There's also a small indoor pool, which, if you have time to use, is a nice additional feature.
Several poolside seating areas are available so parents of children can watch as the kids take a swim. These spaces can also make great places to catch up on emails or share some photos from your trip, since the Wi-Fi also works well in the pool area.
While I love the city of Nashville, the Sheraton certainly has its drawbacks, which made my stay less than pleasant. Major areas that need to be addressed here include the service, lack of proper restaurants and vending machines and, of course, the faulty fire alarm system. Despite the negatives, I appreciated the renovations to this property, and that luxurious (and free) hotel shuttle. I look forward to my next trip to Nashville, but will most likely stay elsewhere.
Have you ever stayed at the Sheraton Nashville Downtown? Tell us about your experience, below.
All images by the author.