Thompson NashvilleAlia Akkam • Photography by Andrea Behrends • April 11, 2017
Once synonymous with abandoned warehouses instead of biscuits and craft beer, the Gulch—the LEED-certified, mixed-use community sandwiched between downtown and Music Row—is one of Nashville’s buzziest neighborhoods. The arrival of the 224-room Thompson Nashville, the brand’s first Southern venture, cements the Gulch’s reputation as a creative hub in a rapidly changing city.
Local firm Hastings Architecture Associates crafted the glass-dominated building, while Parts and Labor Design reinforced the structure’s modernity with a sophisticated residential vibe inside. Looking past the city’s honky-tonk roots, the New York firm focused on defining Nashville’s “young and culturally driven style,” explains Andrew Cohen, the firm’s co-founder and principal. “At the same time, Nashville is relaxed and comfortable, so we wanted to create a laidback concept that is welcoming for guests and locals alike. As “Nashville’s first true lifestyle hotel,” he says, they wanted to “celebrate the city’s creative spirit while also embracing a modern experience that is both timeless and fashion forward.”
This juxtaposition is first unveiled in the lobby, where a wood patterned and painted inlay floor by local artist Patrick Hayes—fashioned from salvaged wood depicting the hotel’s geographical coordinates in brass—mingles with towering ’70s-inspired bookshelves, concrete flooring, and a vintage turntable that invites listening sessions of Third Man Records vinyl. “A mint green onyx check-in desk ushers guests into the lobby and immediately draws them to the lobby lounge, where velvet sofas and reading nooks help to create an intimate and warm living room vibe,” Cohen points out.
Powerhouse New Orleans chef John Besh presides over Marsh House, and reaching the restaurant from the “luxurious and plush” lobby is a favorite element of Parts and Labor co-founder and principal Jeremy Levitt: “As you move through the lobby lounge to the restaurant, a custom wood and glass partition serves as a stunning grand entry to the restaurant. It becomes more classic without ever breaking that contemporary sensibility,” he says.
A striking geometric-patterned custom floor of gray, cream, and charcoal underneath a ceiling painted in high-gloss green defines the restaurant’s bar, paving the way to a screen made of greige white oak, glass, and nickel-plated steel and the dining room with cream hues set against dark-toned leather and metal seating beyond. In contrast, Besh’s indoor-outdoor rooftop restaurant and bar L.A. Jackson is cool and breezy, flaunting images of palm tree leaves and punches of tropical vacation-inspired hues like pink, purple, blue, and teal. Throughout the various spaces, the duo paid great attention to every detail: from subtle, handcrafted elements to the mixing of materials in the custom furnishings.
A midcentury modern-meets-’70s sensibility also carries over to the guestrooms, where wood floors are draped with custom rugs and bathrooms boast black and white graphic floors brightened by white tiles, pentagon-shaped mirrors, and, in the suites, clawfoot tubs. Wanting every room “to have a distinct residential feel,” Cohen says entry closets were adjusted to make room for an ottoman and curated artwork. “It’s a moment for guests to relax before entering the room.”
Local artwork also captures the city’s energy, with walls lined with hand-knit tapestries, credenzas, and gold foil pieces, as well as photographs that reveal soulful glimpses of music personalities, including Neil Young in his wagoner and a young Woody Guthrie on a dirt bike. “We wanted to connect icons and influencers to their lives offstage,” explains Cohen. “A little picture of Dolly Parton in the suites looks like something her mother would have on the mantel.”