First, let’s get this out of the way: The Thompson is unapologetically trendy. But even though it’s where touring musicians and cool kids like to stay, it’s still a humble, laid-back, unpretentious hotel. And we dare those who passionately detest trendiness to defy their own protestations and give it a shot because we’re sure that all types – cool or otherwise – will easily be won over by friendly service, tasty grub, beautiful design, and a room so comfortable you’ll want to pick up sticks, rent a U-Haul and move right in.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Look, there’s no way around saying this, it’s not the cheapest hotel you’ll ever stay at. The rooms aren’t cheap, the parking isn’t cheap, the food isn’t cheap, the drinks aren’t cheap. But is it worth it? Absolutely.
The nicest compliment you can give a hotel should be given to the Thompson, which is: you’ll want to live here. Seriously. You’ll want to move to Nashville, settle down, and raise a family in this room. Or, at the very least, you’ll want to rip-off design-firm Parts and Labor’s look for your own bedroom back home. With hardwood floors and modern-retro furnishings, you’ll find an understated elegance – a sort of down-home luxury – and many of the rooms have impressive views of Nashville’s quickly-changing skyline.
Not only is the mini-bar impressively stocked with top-notch booze and mixers, but expect to find a couple of vinyl records curated by Jack White’s Third Man Records, which is headquartered just a stone’s throw away from the hotel.
It’s the perfect combination of marble, subway tile, wood, brass, and baby blue paint. And after you wash up in here, make sure to don one of the gray-and-white-striped TY Presidential Collection robes – we love them so much we named them as one of our favorite hotel bathrobes anywhere in the world.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The door is a sliding barn door. It looks great. It works well. It closes completely. But, for those who are adamant about their bathroom privacy, so much so that it’s almost a psychological affliction (this reviewer happens to suffer from this malady), a sliding bathroom door that even gives the whisper of voyeurism is enough to cause constipation. But, really, get a grip – the bathroom is gorgeous and private. This reviewer was fine and you’ll be, too.
Expect to be warmly greeted by waistcoat-clad doormen and the glow of the lobby’s modern chandeliers. Step right in and you’ll see a world of wood and concrete, materials that could almost feel industrial, but somehow exude comfort. There’s ample seating, but it never feels like it’s a scene. And, if you’ve ever wanted to pretend you’re a hotel DJ, now’s your chance. Third Man Records has provided a library of vinyl that you can set the needle down upon – just make sure to tell the front desk first.
Right off the lobby is Marsh House, a seafood restaurant so fresh, you’ll swear you’re in New Orleans. Which makes a lot of sense as it’s helmed by John Besh’s Our House Hospitality. Seafood arrives fresh daily, so don’t even hesitate to order up a dozen oysters.
For breakfast, try Killebrew, also off the lobby. The coffee is strong and happy-making and the food is perfect if you want something quick and easy in the morning.
Rooftop bars are rare in Nashville, so you should certainly pop up to the top floor of the hotel and take in the view while nursing a cocktail at L.A. Jackson. The beers are all Southern-born, with several options originating in Nashville proper.
The Thompson is perfectly positioned within the heart of the up-and-coming Gulch neighborhood and walking to most popular destinations is fairly easy – often no more than twenty-five-minutes away by foot. Free public transportation is available a block away at 12th and Laurel via the Green Circuit of the Downtown Circulator, which will take you directly to Lower Broadway or the Bicentennial Mall. And, of course, there’s always Uber.
Cattycorner to the hotel is Biscuit Love (1-minute walk) which serves – you guessed it – biscuits. Amazing biscuits! Incredible biscuits! Awe-inspiring biscuits! But be prepared to wait in a very, very long line. Over at Jonathan Waxman’s restaurant, Adele’s (10-minute walk), you can feast on new American cuisine – consider trying their specialty, the JW chicken, which sounds dull but, who cares? It’s tasty! If you’ve been scouring Tennessee for sushi, you’re in luck: wander over to Virago (10-minute walk), which is one of multiple concept restaurants in the Gulch overseen by the M Street Group.
You’re in Music City, so you ought to see some music. Luckily, just around the corner is The Station Inn (1-minute walk), a music venue with almost forty years of history, and famous for bluegrass. Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, and Alan Jackson have all taken to this stage. Book in advance as tickets are likely to sell out. Over at the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium (15-minute walk), you can choose from over 80 rotating draft beers and 120 bottled. But why choose? Try ‘em all!
WHY WE LIKE IT
For a trendy hotel, the Thompson is unusually comfortable. The design is warm, with just enough of a Music City touch to make it feel authentic – without going overboard and becoming Hard Rock kitsch. The staff goes the extra mile to provide quality service. It won’t be an inexpensive stay, but it’ll definitely be a happy one.