Corporate Goes Country: A Review of Holston House Nashville
To The Point
Holson House Nashville offers a great location by Music City’s hottest venues, and is an example of a successful entry by a big hotel chain into a more personal-feeling property. Pros: It has a great location and feels authentic to the city. Cons: It doesn’t feel completely finished, and the gym could be bigger.
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On my trip to Nashville at the start of the year, I had a chance to fulfill one of my New Year’s resolutions: explore new hotel brands. I’ve rarely strayed outside of Marriott properties for the past two years, and Music City gave me an opportunity to experience one of the city’s newest hotels, the Holston House.
Part of Hyatt’s Unbound Collection, the Holston House opened at at the end of 2017. The 88-year-old, 191-room Art Deco building originally operated as the James Robertson Hotel before serving as an apartment building. Now the renovation is ready to welcome out-of-towners once again.
When I browsed rates for my one-night stay, most nearby hotels — Hyatt Place, Omni and Renaissance— clocked in at $225 or above. The Holston House was only $150, and the Music for Your Ears rate included a $40 credit for food. This felt like a steal, and it was probably because the property was trying to climb up the hotel rankings for the city. With only two Google reviews, it was under the radar all right. I got a king room.
I had no World of Hyatt status, so my points potential was limited to five points per dollar spent. I used my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for the booking, for 2x points for travel. (I’m planning to compare properties throughout the year to help determine what new credit card to add to my wallet by the end of 2018.)
Nashville lacked a convenient public-transit option from the airport, but the trip in a taxi was quick and cheap (about 15 minutes and $25).
Across the street from Bridgestone Arena and three blocks from the convention center, it was a convenient tourist location. The Holston House was at the western end of the action on Broadway, the heart of the city’s tourist scene. The nearby honky-tonk bars all ran together except Robert’s Western World, the top spot on Broadway. It was three blocks from the hotel, and I knew I could count on seeing some of the city’s best pickers there.
I received a notification that my room was ready at 11:30am, so I headed straight to the hotel after my flight. The lobby had an 1920s elegance, and a split-level design with a restaurant downstairs, bar upstairs and sitting area in the middle.
The check-in agent was friendly, and she told me that the hotel was still in a soft-opening stage. That meant there were still construction workers putting the finishing touches on the lobby bar. While that didn’t bother me, I was disappointed to learn that the rooftop pool and bar — which were both advertised in the hotel’s description — would not open until March.
The fifth floor greeted me with a massive photo of the action in a bar somewhere on Broadway. My king room was tucked around the corner from the elevator. At 246 square feet, the loft-like room was not massive, but there was plenty of living space.
The hallway featured a concert poster from the nearby Ryman Auditorium, a legendary concert venue well worth visiting if you’re in Nashville. The bathroom was immediately on my left with a farmhouse door, and the design delivered the upscale charm of many boutique hotels.
The marble shower was quite spacious, and a bathrobe was available for use. C.O. Bigelow amenities reinforced the boutique vibe of the property.
The bedroom included a closet with additional exposed storage space for hanging clothes. The hanging lamps beside the bed delivered an extra design flourish, and outlets with USB ports provided ample power support for an arsenal of devices. The bed was super comfy.
My only complaint about the bedroom was that the lighting was a bit complicated. Switches by the door controlled some of the power, and an overly confusing system of bedside dimming switches made nighttime reading a bit of pain.
A desk-cabinet combination lined most of the wall opposite the bed, with a flat-screen TV mounted on the wall. A Keurig machine with Starbucks pods was a nice perk. The in-room bottles of water, priced at $5 per bottle, seemed like a bit of a price gouge, though.
Food and Beverage
When Holston House is completely operational, the rooftop bar will be called TENN on Top. For my stay, the dining options included TENN, which is the first-floor restaurant, and Bar TENN, the bar overlooking the lobby with menu options from restaurant below. The construction workers were gone by the time I came back down, and the $9 macaroni and cheese, listed as a starter, filled me up for lunch.
The $7 granola was a fresh and light start to my morning. Heartier options were a bit on the expensive side (for Nashville), including a $17 avocado toast and poached egg for breakfast, and a $17 burger with bacon.
TENN’s ambience strayed from the vintage feel of the rest of the hotel (the restaurant concept was developed by New York-based APICII restaurant group.)
I also recommend venturing outside the hotel to Tin Cup Coffee, around the corner from the hotel. I had breakfast tacos there after I checked out, and they were insanely tasty.
The fitness center, in the basement, had an industrial vibe with its exposed piping and brick walls. All the machines and free weights any traveler could ask for were included, but I could imagine it getting fairly crowded once the word is out about the Holston House. With just three treadmills and three bikes, there could be competition for early-morning workouts.
The big amenity will eventually be the rooftop pool, which the staff all apologized for the delay in opening.
My stay felt like a sneak peek of what Holston House will become: one of the best small hotels in Nashville. Over the next three years, the city will welcome a new JW Marriott, a new Hyatt Regency, a new property from Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels and a number of other properties, and the area around the hotel was booming with construction. When I’m back, though, I plan to return to Holston House to experience the rooftop and see the hotel in its fully functioning form.
I’ve usually rolled my eyes at most hotel brands’ efforts to launch brands that compete with boutiques and Airbnb, and the corporate speak of brands that “tell stories,” “appeal to millennials,” and are “familiar, yet unexpected” all feels hollow, but Holston House proved my skepticism wrong. The property offered the best of a big brand — the ability to earn loyalty points and standards of top-notch service — while establishing a real sense of authenticity for my night in Nashville.
Images courtesy of the author.
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