TravelPlex’s Destination of the Month takes us to the undisputed country music capital of the world, Nashville. Home of the Grand Old Opry, Nashville is riding high as a business destination and growing business center in the south. With its reputation as a great weekend and family getaway, Music City was recently named a top spot to visit by tastemakers as diverse as Travel + Leisure, Fodor’s, and The New York Times. While there’s something in and around Nashville for everyone, travelers with specific interests including country music, family travel, American history, and more can easily fill their days with activities related just to those interests or try a little bit of everything from a show at the historic Ryman Auditorium to getting in the spirit (and the spirits) with a tour at Jack Daniel’s Distillery.
Tapping into an expert’s advice for Music City, we have found a knowledgeable Concierge who can provide you with tips in order to maximize your Nashville stay. Ms. Laura Cunningham of the Hutton Hotel had the following to say to Where Traveler.
Golden Keys to the City: A Concierge's Guide to Nashville
By Michelle Khouri for Where Traveler
Few people are better equipped to guide you through Nashville than Hutton Hotel Chief Concierge Laura Cunningham. Cunningham recently become one of only a few concierges in the Southeast to earn the prestigious Les Clefs d'Or (“Golden Keys”) designation. Concierges earn their golden keys through an arduous application process, which tests the concierge’s ability to answer any question and fulfill any (legal) request, no matter how outlandish or seemingly impossible. Where sat down with Cunningham to get her insight into her top recommendations and personal favorites for what to do, see and eat in Music City.
Which Nashville neighborhood is best for shopping?
12 South is a wonderful neighborhood for shopping with a variety of high-end boutiques, vintage shops and unique gift stores. While you are visiting 12 South, stop in at The Label, where rock stars shop, and explore White’s Mercantile, a modern-day general store. Have jeans custom-fitted at Imogene + Willie or find new-old treasures at Savant Vintage. When you need a break, stop in at a local favorite for lunch; Flipside, Edley's Bar-B-Que, and Burger Up are just a few of your great options.
What are some things unique to Nashville a visitor can experience?
While live music is not unique to Nashville, the hours you can enjoy music are. The music starts as early as 11 am almost every day and continues until 2 or 3 am. Many venues for live music are free or charge a minimal cover fee. In addition to live music, we also have some unique music stores for both instruments and recordings. Carter's Vintage Guitars has a fantastic selection, Gruhn Guitars has an amazing history, and record shops like Jack White's Third Man Records and Grimey’s have a little something for everyone.
What do you think most visitors find surprising about Nashville?
I think many visitors find it surprising Nashville has a sophisticated side. While country music is a big part of Nashville, the city has become so much more. With many universities in the area, as well as world-class art programming, the cultural offerings are rich. We have amazing food, an expanding art scene and a growing city population with many developing neighborhoods, each with a unique personality.
What is the most common question you receive at the concierge desk? What's usually your answer?
The most common question I receive is, “This is my first time in Nashville; what should I do?” While my response always covers city highlights, no two answers are the same because no two guests are the same. People come to Nashville for various reasons. One person might want a complete tourist experience, including spending time downtown at the music museums and honky-tonk bars. Others may want to eat and drink their way through the now-famous culinary scene. Another person may want to enjoy Nashville's fashion with visits to the studios of Manuel, Peter Nappi and Otis James. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the Ryman Auditorium appear most frequently on the top of the recommendation list because they combine music, history, art and culture.
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