We are huge Dolly Parton fans over here at TravelAwaits, so of course we had to go check out the Nashville hotel that has a giant pink statue of the iconic singer-songwriter’s head on its rooftop. Located in Midtown Music City, the Graduate Nashville is not actually a Dolly Parton-themed hotel. This graduate doesn’t have anything to do with Dustin Hoffman, either. I got to visit Graduate Nashville last month and found out what it is actually all about.
On the corner of West End Avenue, not far from the hustle and bustle of Broadway, the Graduate Nashville opened its doors in late 2019/early 2020. Graduate Hotels is actually a small but quickly growing chain of hotels that are all located in university towns (hence the “graduate,” get it?). In this case, the local university is Vanderbilt. Each hotel has a different theme, but they all feature creative interiors, storytelling, and college nostalgia.
At Graduate Nashville, the story is all about singer-songwriters. Let’s take a tour, shall we?
By the way, Graduate Nashville hosted my stay, but all opinions are entirely my own.
Right when you walk in the door, there is so much to take in. What first strikes you is Minnie Pearl’s giant mug. Created by conceptual needlework artist Margaret Timbrell, the 9-by-15-foot latch hook rug portrait took over 1,000 hours to complete!
Then there’s the gold inlay on the floor that reads “we are all students,” keeping up with the education theme. To the left, an old roadside hotel sign touts “50 beautiful units” (there are actually 205 rooms). To the right, over 100 watercolor paintings of flora from the Vanderbilt Arboretum grace the wall. One detail that doesn’t jump out is that the front desk is actually made of old speakers.
According to the assistant manager who was my tour guide, all of the design is done in-house. A Graduate app lets guests scan artwork to find out more about each piece.
Sparkly wallpaper and cowboy boot patterned carpet decorate the hallways leading to guest rooms. In the king room, a framed painting of Dolly hangs over the bed, guaranteeing sweet dreams. Dual queen-bed rooms are also available, as are four types of suites, including the Family Suite that features two twin guitar beds and the Dolly-themed 9-to-5 suite.
Known as the 9-to-5 Suite, room 925 is the only Dolly Parton-themed room in the hotel. It costs a pretty penny per night but comes with a California King waterbed, disco ball-tiled walls in the spacious bathroom, Dolly wallpaper and framed photos, a record player, and sweeping views of Nashville, complete with its ever-present construction cranes. Head up to the roof for more Dolly fun!
On-Site Dining And Drinking
Graduate Nashville does not offer room service, but it does have three onsite sustenance spots. Between the rooftop bar, karaoke bar, and coffee bar, you definitely won’t go thirsty here! And if you’re craving some Nashville hot chicken, Hattie B’s is just a DoorDash away.
For coffee and grab-n-go snacks, head to Poindexter, the lobby-level café. Sip your cup of ambition on one of these cozy couches. The hotel often hosts singer-songwriters in the lobby, and these tiered couches are meant to make it feel like a living room show.
Cross-Eyed Critters Watering Hole
Sing your heart out at Cross-Eyed Critters, the Graduate Nashville’s karaoke bar. An animatronic band graces the stage, giving guests their best version of “Rocky Top,” which is well-known as the University of Tennessee fight song. “These” is spelled out in cowboy boots on the wall next to the Dolly pinball machine. Now that I know there is a Dolly pinball machine, I must own one.
Plenty of people forgo a hotel stay to simply sip a beverage at the rooftop bar, White Limozeen. Named after a Dolly Parton song/album, the bar is decked out in Dolly and hot pink. I didn’t get a chance to dine here, but reservations are required to do so. Outside, pink umbrellas surround the pool next to the giant chicken-wire sculpture of Dolly’s head along with sweeping views of the Nashville skyline.
On the weekend, the hotel often hosts pop-up markets. Local businesses will set up shop in the lobby or out front. On Sundays, there is usually a flower truck where you can make your own bouquet.
Not Dolly’s Hotel
Contrary to popular belief, Dolly has nothing to do with this hotel. In fact, she’s never even stepped foot in the place!
24-Hour Fitness Center
It honestly did not occur to me to check out the gym! But there is one, and I hear it has a Peleton bike.
Pets are welcome at Graduate Nashville, for a fee. See the FAQ page for details.
There is no parking, so you must use the valet, which costs like 50 bucks a night. Summoning your car back from the valet is easy if you know how to scan a QR code. Heads up — we noticed that the valet took a little longer than quoted, so give yourself plenty of time to get your car.
White Limo Experience
Hire a real white vintage limo to pick you up from the airport or take you around downtown with the hotel’s new white limo experience. I’m going back to Nashville for my birthday next weekend, so I just might have to try it!