The Charm of Music City

By Elise Seymour

People are flocking to live in Nashville at an unprecedented rate, and Music City is rapidly expanding to meet the influx of new residents.

Fortunate visitors can experience the newly fueled vibe by staying at Noelle, a centrally located ‘experiential’ hotel and creative gathering place with 200 boutique guest rooms. What’s on the menu? Cocktails at the Rare Bird rooftop bar, brunch at Makeready Libations & Liberation restaurant and masala chai lattes at Drug Store Coffee.

Nashville-based architects Feltus Hawkins Design, designers from Dryden Architecture and creative branding experts Peck & Company paid homage to Noelle’s Art Deco roots when redesigning the property. They’ve masterfully preserved the historic hotel, which was first opened in 1930 by the Noel family and is listed on the US National Register of Historic Places.

Visitors can wander down Printer’s Alley behind the hotel. Circa 1915, it was Nashville’s main printing district. Thirteen publishers and 10 printers were located here, including Nashville’s two newspapers, The Tennessean and The Nashville Banner.

Although the lights of Broadway (or, as locals like to call it, “NashVegas”) are a short block away, those of us who had previously visited Nashville had been down that popular road before. So, we instead opted to search for a few of the lesser-known parts of the city.

We started with Noelle’s Hidden Bar, a secret spot within our hotel that is exclusive to those in the know (mostly people keeping a close eye on Instagram). Tough to find, it changes theme every three months. During our visit the bar’s style was inspired by French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, with European classic cocktails on the drinks menu.

A trip to Nashville Tennessee would be incomplete without sampling the city’s popular hot chicken, and Bolton’s Spicy Chicken & Fish is one of the best places to get a taste. You may have seen it featured on the late Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown or David Chang’s Ugly Delicious. While basic is an understatement for the shack’s simple ambiance, the mouth watering chicken and catfish sandwiches are certainly worth the visit. Hattie B’s, Prince’s, 400 Degrees and Party Fowl are also among the memorable top spots where you can find this Nashville classic.

Live music is surely one of the first things that comes to mind when anyone thinks of Nashville. After all, it’s called Music City for a reason. The long history of talent makes it a destination for aspiring artists, heavyweight music legends and some of the biggest recording studios.

While there is no shortage of venues in which to take in the thriving music scene, our recommendation is The Listening Room, a spot that showcases different artists. It cultivates an environment for inspired performance and collaboration between writers, singers and the occasional celebrity drop in.

Keith Urban performs at the Nightly Concert at The Coliseum on Thursday, June 9 in Downtown Nashville during the 2005 CMA Music Festival, ìCountry Musicís Biggest Partyô.î

Nashville’s culinary scene has also been getting global recognition and collecting a few James Beard Award winners. Three of our favourites: Butchertown Hall; Bourbon Steak in the JW Marriott, with stunning skyline views and decadent dishes; and Geist, located in one of the Germantown neighbourhood’s oldest buildings. We stopped by Geist for brunch, and to check out its fabulous champagne garden. Pro tip: Start with a Pink 75 prosecco, and don’t miss the cinnamon buns.

When you’re ready to escape the downtown scene, take the short scenic drive to Leiper’s Fork, a historic woodsy village with the sweet label “If Sunday Morning Had a Hometown.” A trip along the winding road leading into “The Fork” feels like driving back in time—as we arrive, we’re greeted by
General Lee and a four-block stretch of rustic storefronts
with porch swings, fire pits and eclectic art galleries. Other nearby options for a day trip are the Great Smoky Mountains and the gushing waterfalls of the Burgess, Cummins and
Foster Falls State Parks.

Tennessee’s capital in the heart of the south is a beautiful and evolving destination. If you haven’t visited lately (or ever), do yourself a favour. It will surprise and delight your soul.

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