Among my wife’s other multiple talents is that she’s an amazing researcher. Combine this with being a frustrated travel agent and it makes for staying in some interesting places. Perfect for an admitted ‘hotel junkie’ like me.
We recently needed to travel to Louisville and not wanting to drive the whole journey in one go, Madam Researcher took on the job of finding an hotel en route that was different. ‘Let’s stay in the train station’ she announced. I may be a ferroeqinologist (Google it!) but my days of camping out on benches in stations is long since past. Enter the Union Station Hotel…
Originally started in1898 this Gothic pile was completed in 1900. It boasted the largest trainshed (the covered bit where the trains came in) was the largest unsupported span in the USA and could hold 10 trains at one time. Apparently it even had two alligator ponds on the train level – imagine getting that past ‘health and safety’ these days. Celebrities passed through, including Al Capone on his way to the Pen. The place stopped being a station in 1979 and reopened as a luxury hotel in the ’80s, but was refitted in 2007.
The Union Station Hotel (http://www.unionstationhotelnashville.com) is now part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection with 125 rooms and a number of suites.
It’s certainly spectacular and the lobby is one of a king – see the photos. The staff are proud of their hotel and it shows. From the guest point of view though, don’t think of it as a ‘normal chain hotel’ it certainly isn’t that. Rooms below the third floor, where reception is, I understand are dark and can be noisy although we didn’t stay in one, so that’s pure heresay! However above lobby level they are amazing with high ceilings and modern styled interiors. If you’re looking for regular rooms, this isn’t the place to go, but if you’re open to experiences it’s worth it.
There’s a great bar too and the in house restaurant, Prime 108, is a four star rated joint. They certainly do a good steak, and the wait staff are excellent.
As always, check peer reviews on TripAdvisor etc, but read between the lines. This is not a cookie cutter hotel, but it’s worth camping out in the station!