From about $340.
Nashville is a town of great ensembles, session players and songwriters, a magnet for musicians who come to tap the deep well of local talent. Noelle took a similar approach when reinventing this Art Deco grande dame, which originally opened as a hotel in 1930. The hotel developer Rockbridge put together a band of hometown luminaries: Nick Dryden of Dryden Architecture & Design focused on preservation; the chef Dan Herget oversees the food; Andy Mumma of Barista Parlor is responsible for the coffee bar, and the artist Bryce McCloud — who did interiors at Jack White’s Third Man Records, headquarters of the Nashville record label, store and music venue — runs the vintage printing press (the hotel abuts Printers Alley, once home to the city’s publishing industry). The result is a 224-room boutique hotel that has a sense of place — not Nashvegas, but an entrepreneurial town with Southern charm. The modest lobby leads to the Trade Room, a huge common room with a soaring ceiling, big arched windows, pink Tennessee granite, original brass hardware, low-slung modern sofas and a long bar. The hidden mezzanine is a good vantage for people-watching.
Smack downtown and a block from Broadway, the city’s main drag, the 13-story hotel has views overlooking the Cumberland River toward East Nashville. It’s also walking distance from any number of other cultural high points, including the Ryman Auditorium concert hall, the Johnny Cash Museum and the Frist Arts Museum. The boutiques of the 12 South district and the popular restaurants of Germantown are easy cab rides away.
What my 250-square-foot room lacked in size it made up for in a sleek style, with a tightly made king-size bed, framed fabric headboard, pristine white walls, wooden tulip table, a black goose-necked reading lamp and a woodcut of Ella Sheppard — a former slave who was a pianist, singer and a force behind the seminal Fisk Jubilee Singers — from the in-house printing studio. Windows face a drab interior shaftway, but that’s what the discreet control panel that operates the shades is for. Wi-Fi (included in the room rate) was strong, and complimentary morning coffee arrived promptly in a wooden caddy.
Tiled in gray marble, with black fixtures on a white sink, a brass-framed mirror and an ample glass-enclosed shower, the bathroom was pleasingly spare. Toiletries were from the botanical line Red Flower, a black washcloth stamped “makeup” spared the white towels, and there was enough floor space to accommodate a dog’s water bowl — the Noelle allows pets — without creating a tripping hazard.
Each guest floor has a water station in the corridor where you can fill glass bottles with still or sparkling. The second floor gym, overlooking the street, was equipped with Peloton bikes. As part of the lobby, the Keep Shop stocks local wares like vintage clothing from High Class Hillbilly. Noelle also prints The Line, its own semiannual salmon-colored broadsheet with articles covering the scene (a new wallpaper designer, the classic bar Robert’s Western World) and the lore (Printers Alley once bustled with brothels and speakeasies) plus the basics, such as coffee shop hours, room service menu and number to text valet parking — which, at $42 a night, is pretty steep.
Drug Store Coffee takes up a street-level corner of the hotel, with wooden stools along the bar in the window, and pulls a good espresso. The restaurant Makeready Libations and Liberations is industrial in design — whitewashed walls, exposed pipes, wooden veneers — and convivial in vibe, with a staff that’s casual and knows the tavern-inspired menus: breakfast, lunch, weekend brunch and dinner from 5 p.m. every day. One night, we had a grilled mushroom dish with shaved truffle and microgreens that managed to be earthy and light at the same time. On the roof, there’s the open-air Rare Bird, with a long zinc bar, a couple of fireplaces and good views of what is locally known as the Batman building (it’s actually the AT&T tower) that punctuates the Nashville skyline. Its drinks list features regional beers (a Pilsner from Wiseacre Brewing Company out of Memphis, for one) and cocktails like a Vie en Rose with gin, Aperol, aloe and lemon ($13).
The Bottom Line
In a city that’s bursting with new hotels — from the Bobby Hotel next door to the 553-room JW Marriott scheduled to open later this year — Noelle is distinct as an Art Deco anchor. While it’s got every modern accouterment, it manages to feel almost timeless.
Noelle, 200 Fourth Avenue North, Nashville; noelle-nashville.com