Hitting all the right notes: 24 hours at the W Nashville
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When I moved to Nashville for college in 2011 it was still very much an up-and-coming destination with only a handful of truly exciting hotels. Fast forward 10 years and the hotel scene is dramatically different. In fact, Nashville arguably has some of the hottest hotels in the country, from Dolly Parton-themed suites at the trendy-but-affordable Graduate to soon-to-open Four Seasons and Edition properties.
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But for all of Music City’s recent hotel openings, few have been as highly anticipated as the W Nashville, located in the hyper-trendy Gulch neighborhood. Though I’ve moved away from Nashville, I get back frequently for work and to see friends, which gave me a great excuse to book a recent Sunday-night stay at the W. From a happening rooftop bar to creatively decorated guest rooms, here’s everything to know about the W Nashville.
Like Nashville itself, the W brand has changed rapidly over recent years, trading in some of its over-the-top kitsch and shock-for-the-sake-of-shock characteristics for a much more relaxed (but still playful) aesthetic. This newer, grown-up take on the brand is clearly visible at this property, which is tucked away between the magic of Music Row (where songwriters and record labels make hits) and the rowdy crowds of tourists and bachelorette parties on Lower Broadway.
For guests traveling to Nashville, the W makes for a solid place to stay, whether you’re heading to town to explore the delicious food scene, catch live music, celebrate a bachelorette party or simply are in town for business. The rooms are very large and comfortable and, while chic, are toned down enough to feel right for nearly any type of traveler.
Throughout the day the mood shifts in the lobby from people using the large space for coworking in the morning to a slightly more rowdy crowd taking advantage of the multiple bars and restaurants at night. The hotel also boasts a popular year-round rooftop bar with indoor and outdoor seating that looks out across the city in almost every direction, as well as Nashville outposts of New York’s Carne Mare, a decadent (and pricey) Italian chophouse, and The Dutch, an airy restaurant great for a weekend brunch or healthy-ish lunch — all helmed by noted NYC chef Andrew Carmellini.
The W Nashville is located in the affluent and chic Gulch neighborhood, which is conveniently central. Getting to Lower Broadway is an easy 15-minute walk, a 5- to 10-minute Uber or a fun ride on one of the city’s many electric scooter services like Bird or Lime.
From Nashville International Airport (BNA), expect a 15- to 20-minute Uber or Lyft to cost $20-$25. But be warned, Nashville traffic, especially on the highway heading to the airport, can turn wild during rush hour, so allow yourself extra time for late afternoon or early evening flights.
Rates at any Nashville hotel can fluctuate significantly due to the city’s staggering number of visitors, conferences, music festivals and general popularity.
At the W Nashville, prices tend to range between $350-$630 a night. For award nights, expect to shell out between 70,000 and 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night. I paid $462.35 for a Wonderful 1 King guest room with a city view on a low floor.
- A large, inviting lobby with an industrial-meets-homey design full of long tables with plugs for remote workers to keep their devices charged, plus dark, intimate alcoves for sipping coffee or cocktails throughout the day.
- Rooms start at 380 square feet and have floor-to-ceiling windows offering plenty of natural light, creative art depicting Nashville’s music industry in a cheeky way and subtle elements like a patterned rug that, upon closer inspection, was made of repeating musical notes.
- A large rooftop bar with plenty of space both indoors and out from which to enjoy the picturesque (and rapidly expanding) skyline.
- Carne Mare is a delicious steakhouse that’s a great counter to Nashville’s typical “meat and three” barbecue joints thanks to its Italian takes on steaks and prime rib.
- The hotel’s central location in the Gulch puts guests right in the middle of the action, within a 10-minute drive to popular bars like Acme Feed and Seed on Lower Broadway and less than 20 minutes to the iconic Bluebird Cafe.
- Room rates that vary widely can make it difficult to nail down an affordable stay.
- As a popular hotel in a popular neighborhood, public spaces like the rooftop bar can get very crowded.
- Like many other hip venues in Nashville, expect to encounter hordes of cowboy hat-clad bachelorette parties over weekends.
Designed by the Rockwell Group, the force behind awe-inducing hotels like the New York Edition, the W’s public spaces and rooms are sophisticated and chic. The decor perfectly blends Nashville’s modern feel with its rustic roots by mixing up polished and raw concrete, leather, wood and steel with bright green tiles, delicately embroidered pillows and smart pops of vivid color that bring the place to life.
Throughout the hotel, subtle and obvious odes to Nashville’s music heritage abound, like hidden music notes on carpeting and in metal wall art; an entire wall made of vintage, wooden speakers that hides a private event space; and framed prints by legendary music photographer Jim Marshall of some of the industry’s most iconic stars.
Throughout the 346-key hotel, smart design elements that are both bold and understated shine through — and my Wonderful (that’s the name) 1 King guest room was no exception. At 380 square feet, the room felt bigger than my NYC apartment, and the floor-to-ceiling windows worked as a double hitter letting in an impressive amount of natural light while letting me look out at the growing Nashville skyline.
The floors were mostly hardwood, but a circular, cobalt-blue rug with subtle music notes helped delineate a small, corner living area that had an L-shaped bench decorated with beautiful embroidered throw pillows. Everything was connected by a cushioned headboard that ran the length of the room and helped give the space some dimension.
Above the headboard, a Pop Art piece by Brooklyn’s FAILE studio symbolized “the innocence of young talent who come to Nashville in search of making it big,” according to the hotel’s promotional materials. The wolf represented the music industry, which happens to sit just across the interstate on 16th Avenue South, otherwise known as Music Row.
A dramatic gold cabinet that looked like a jewelry case offered a collection of wines and pre-mixed cocktails while the minifridge was stocked with party essentials like Champagne and a bottled hangover cure. A drawer of snacks held candy, nuts and artisanal beef jerky.
A 65-inch smart TV hung near the dark oak desk, which had USB charging ports and a well-cushioned chair I enjoyed working at.
One of the room’s more interesting elements was the bathroom, which had two sliding doors that could stay open for an airy bathroom experience or close to offer more privacy. The mirror’s built-in studio lighting was a welcome alternative to many hotel bathrooms and was neither overly bright nor annoyingly dim, and the wall of emerald-green tile added an unexpected twist to the room’s dominant blue and gold motif.
The rainfall-style shower had perfect pressure and the bottled Momo amenities (my personal favorite) made it hard to get out.
Food and drink
The W Nashville has a handful of places to get your grub on, from an ultra-luxe steakhouse to a farm-to-table restaurant and a handful of bars. For me, the highlight was Carne Mare, Chef Andrew Carmellini’s sophisticated Italian-style chophouse, a moody restaurant with high-top tables and leather wingback chairs — a nice departure from the barbecue-focused fare that Nashville is rightfully famous for.
The high-end restaurant offered great people watching from my elevated corner booth as I sipped on a Gin & Brusco cocktail ($15) made with gin, lemon, Lambrusco, rosemary and Hellfire bitters and slurped down four Wellfleet oysters ($4 each) that were as fresh as you can find, despite being in landlocked Tennessee.
Though I could eat prime rib every meal of the day, I was hesitant to order (and potentially waste) 16 ounces of meat, so my waiter helped me decide on the eight-ounce center-cut filet ($56) that came out perfectly rare, as ordered, alongside a generous portion of broccolini ($8) drizzled in oil and served with garlic and lemon wedge. It was all wonderfully cooked and well presented, and the red meat paired perfectly with the recommended glass of 2017 Experience Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa ($19).
For a more casual experience, Chef Carmellini’s all-day restaurant, The Dutch, offers a seasonal menu of “things that make us happy.” Arriving at the hotel around 11:30 a.m., I grabbed a bar seat for brunch while waiting for my room to be ready. Nashville brunches can quickly devolve into booze-soaked parties, and that was my experience, as the bartenders struggled to serve folks at the counter while also making drinks for the busy restaurant. While I understand the frenzy, it still took longer than appropriate to have dirty dishes removed from the bar seat I grabbed and even longer to get a drink order in. Despite that, I did enjoy my AC Bloody Mary made with Tito’s vodka, chipotle and housemade pickles ($13) and a zucchini frittata covered with goat cheese and roasted tomatoes ($16).
At Proof, the rooftop bar, I thoroughly enjoyed the sweeping city views, especially of the legendary “Batman” Building and the Tennessee State Capitol, and my Sound Check cocktail composed of gin, cucumber and mint ($14). If I hadn’t been saving my appetite for dinner I would have ordered blistered shishito peppers ($10) or truffle fries ($13).
At The Living Room Bar in the lobby, you can order the W Sazerac ($20), made with a special rye crafted exclusively for the hotel, along with other cocktails, local beer like my favorite Yazhoo hops, wine and bar snacks like mushroom and black truffle flatbread ($21) or smoked olives ($12). On select nights you can find live music (almost de rigueur in Nashville) and whiskey tasting in the Living Room.
Unfortunately, the seasonal Sunset Bar at the Wet Deck by the pool was closed during my late March visit.
For caffeine, my all-time favorite coffee shop, Barista Parlor, has a small location in the lobby, with plenty of seating and desk areas where you can enjoy your beverage. But, I’d recommend skipping this location (and the long morning lines) and heading to Barista Parlor Golden Sound, just a block away, for one of the most beautiful coffee shops in Nashville and an impressive menu of pour-over coffees.
Amenities and service
A very large hotel, the W has plenty of amenities to take advantage of, including a large workout facility tucked away on the third floor with free weights, weight machines, treadmills, ellipticals and a large grassy deck area perfect for yoga.
The pool, located right next to the gym’s outdoor terrace and easily accessible from the elevator bank, was closed while I was there, but there were plenty of lounge chairs for guests to enjoy in warm weather, plus foosball tables and table-top shuffleboard to enjoy when that area is open.
And with nine event rooms equaling nearly 20,000 square feet of space, the W Nashville has a number of options for guests looking to host a wedding, meeting or conference within the hotel. One special event space near The Living Room Bar is completely hidden by a wall of vintage-looking wooden speakers that you’d have to know was there to find.
Beyond the overwhelmed waiters at The Dutch, everyone working at the hotel went above and beyond to make sure I had a great stay, especially one member of the front desk team, Hannah, who remembered my name and greeted me by it every time I saw her and seemed to genuinely care about my experience and my plans. It’s that kind of service that makes me remember a hotel beyond any beautiful mural or bathtub, and it was much appreciated.
Out and about
Nearby, you can enjoy popular restaurants like Otaku Ramen, which serves a southern take on ramen; shop for designer cowboy boots across the street at Lucchese; or snag a highly-coveted picture with Kelsey Montague’s interactive angel wing mural titled #WhatLiftsYou.
Downtown you can hit the live music scene of Lower Broadway and its many honkey tonks or learn more about the history of music at the Country Music Hall of Fame or National Museum of African American Music. If you want to be a star yourself, hit up Printers Alley, right off Broadway, for karaoke — just keep your eyes peeled, you never know when a real star might pop in.
For a hotel with such a large lobby with slightly different elevations, it was nice to see ramps incorporated in very visible areas that were part of the overall design of the space and not tucked away and hard to find. The hallways and elevators in the building felt wide and accessible and the hotel’s pool featured a pool lift. I did find, however, that most of the bars in the hotel, including The Living Room and Proof, were all single-level and not necessarily wheelchair accessible.
When looking at the various room on the Marriott website, every single room type says, “this room type does not offer mobility accessible rooms” or hearing accessible rooms. Thankfully, the Marriott app was able to point me to a specific list of in-room features like 32-inch wide doorways, bathtub seats, doors with lever handles, bathtub grab bars, lowered deadbolts, shower wands, flashing door knockers, transfer shower, accessible vanities and more.
To reserve an accessible room, however, you must follow through the booking process and “request an accessible room when reviewing your reservation.” I called the hotel to confirm that there actually were accessible rooms and was told that it’s best to call the hotel after making a booking to make sure the specific room type is noted and to see if there are any other guest needs they can address.
All in all I had a truly great stay at the W Nashville. It’s a weird experience watching a city you know and love transform with each visit. While hotels are popping up left and right, it’s nice to know that this one is adding value to the city for locals and visitors alike with great food, tributes to the city it calls home and caring staff. From a scenic rooftop bar to one of the best steaks I’ve had in town, plus a gorgeous hotel room that I’d honestly live in, I’d book another stay here without a doubt.
Featured image by Tanner Saunders/The Points Guy.
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