MADE BY MEMBERS • April 2022
Even a pandemic couldn’t turn off the tunes in Music City. While many other major US cities pulled the plug, Nashville turned out more than 3,100 new hotel rooms, 200 new eateries and myriad attractions ready for the comeback – and direct flights resume on 9 May. Club editor Hannah Ralph recalls her recent trip
Nine hours. Direct. Five times a week. Year-round. This route gets you to the heart of Nashville (the airport is only 15 minutes from Downtown), whether you’re pining for steamy summer nights on the strip, hot bourbon in autumnal East Nashville, or a country-tastic cowboy Christmas.
On our return trip in December (when the route had a brief flurry of Christmas activity), we collected a total of 3,137 Avios and 55 Tier Points in World Traveller. In terms of spending Avios, think about splashing out on a Club World upgrade – nine hours is a justifiable amount of time to want for that extra leg room and luxury.
We fell in love with the dark green tiles and pop-art charms of the entry-level rooms (which, like everything in the US, are supersized by default). You could head to the rooftop, but the Living Room Bar is the real place to be seen. Plus, you’re slap bang in the trendy Gulch neighbourhood.
Grand Hyatt Nashville
This newbie balances good times with grown-up vibes – including rooms that offer dazzling views of Downtown from floor-to-ceiling glass. You’ll appreciate pancake stacks from the bountiful breakfast buffet and, should there be NBA game playing at nearby Nissan Stadium, spying some Tennessee Titan sports stars in the lift.
By Nashville standards, 224 rooms make this place practically boutique – and all are decked out in crisp, cooling neutrals, providing quite the tonic to the neon frenzy of the main strip. There’s an on-site speakeasy and a very cool coffee bar from which to read the hotel’s own artsy newspaper, The Line.
Honourable mention: The 47 rooms at Nashville’s first Soho House, housed in a former hosiery factory.
This songwriting legend is where Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks and co all got their start. It’s comically unassuming, both inside and out – wedged between barber shops and dry cleaners on an unremarkable street – but there’s an undefinable magic inside. Book an evening show to see for yourself.
The Grand Ole Opry
Spend a Friday (or Saturday) night at The Grand Ole Opry, country’s most famous stage, where we saw Carly Pearce belt out bluesy break-up tunes and the guys from Old Crow Medicine Show raise hell on banjos. Each show is broadcast over the radio (the case, since 1925).
The Ryman Auditorium
The Mother Church of Country Music itself (the auditorium was once, literally, a church), the Ryman is the birthplace of bluegrass and has seen legend upon legend (Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, even Harry Houdini) grace the stage. It’s celebrating 130 years this year, with big-ticket pop performances and live comedy on the bill.
Honourable mention: The Station Inn in the Gulch – the place to hear bluegrass.
“Live music heaven – what’s not to love about the ‘Honky Tonk Highway’? Dance in the streets (show some love, tip the band!) and end the night with a supper of Nashville hot chicken”
Rikki Partridge, British Airways Holidays’ Nashville Destination Manager
The table of the moment, though, has to be Henrietta Red (pictured above), where you’ll be begging for more anchovy butter on your wood -fired bread and green curried oysters, which, despite the land-lockedness of it all, are some of the best you’ll ever eat.
Elliston Place Soda Shop
There are a few spots you can get yourself a cracking ‘meat and three’ – the southern tradition of (usually fried) meat served with three hearty sides. Our pick is Elliston Place Soda Shop, where you can grab this (plus loads of other diner classics) alongside mega milkshakes and royally retro décor.
Honourable mention: The grilled cheese sandwich from locals’ favourite sports shack, Smokin Thighs.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum dives deep into the history of the genre, from its bluegrass roots to its modern tip and all the rhinestones along the way. Its latest American Currents exhibition runs until 5 February 2023.
The National Museum of African American Music
But will the old timer be surpassed by the new kid of the block? The National Museum of African American Music (or NMAAM) was certainly our favourite. Have a boogie, create your own tracks, sing your heart out – this interactive playground is so fun, you’ll barely want to leave.
Johnny Cash Museum
Are you ready to walk the line? The Johnny Cash Museum is a tribute to the great songwriter’s lifetime, starting with his life in Air Force One and wrapping up around his hit cover of Hurt, just before he and his beloved wife, June Carter, died. The gift shop ain’t half bad, either.
Honourable mention: The Musicians Hall of Fame, which celebrates those behind the scenes (and gives you chance to tickle some ivories before you go).
The watering holes
Rosemary & Beauty Queen
Behind an oh-so suburban frontage covered in fairy lights, Rosemary & Beauty Queen is hip East Nashville personified, with off-kilter décor and a handsome beer garden. Vegan tacos need to be tasted to be believed.
Hiding inside The Graduate Hotel, divey karaoke watering hole Cross-Eyed Critters is where anyone can take the stage (fuelled by a metric tonne of Jack Daniel’s, if it’s liquid courage you need) with a animatronic back-up band including a Dolly Parton-ified human-sized fox. Really.
Think whiskey is the only tipple in town? Adam Diskin honed his craft right here in England before bringing his skills back to Tennessee to create the city’s best cider. Head to his distillery-cum-bar and start with the refreshing flagship, Bob’s Your Uncle.