From GooGoo Clusters to Piggly Wiggly, Tennessee offers much to giggle about. Vegetarian TravelingMom Judy Antell found that same sensibility at the newest 21c Museum Hotel, in Nashville. The hotel provides rubber ducks in all rooms, and scatters giant plastic penguins around the hotel. The hip boutique hotel is also family friendly.
Nashville, Tennessee has all the components of a city designed for a family getaway. There is a large zoo, plenty of free activities and a booming food scene. Nashville also has a new boutique hotel, the 21c Museum Hotel. This is the latest iteration of the hip family friendly chain that is expanding its reach.
The hotel is well situated, a couple of blocks from the music clubs along Broadway, a block from Bicentennial Park, and walking distance from several museum. It is also across the river from Nissan Stadium. There is a pedestrian bridge that delivers you to the stadium and a river walkway, and there are public bikes for zipping around the city.
I was in Nashville to drive the new Infiniti Q50 and found the city to be easy to negotiate in a car. The 21c has valet parking if you drive to town.
The Room that Screams Fun
My king-sized room (not one of the suites with the view above) had a super comfortable bed, adequate lighting, and walls thick enough that I didn’t hear a sound. On the top floor, accessible by a separate elevator, suites offer outdoor space and great views of the city.
There is a Nespresso machine in every room, and a minibar where you can squeeze in your own drink or snack.
There are also luxe Malin + Goetz bath products and plush bathrobes. The glass-enclosed shower has a rain shower head and a rubber duck that you can take home.
A large plastic penguin seemed to point the way to my room. Every time I left the hotel, someone had repositioned a few of the resident penguins.
One quibble. There is a green roof on the hotel and the hotel touts its environmental friendliness. A card in the bathroom says linens are changed every other day, unless you place the card on your bed. I prefer to save water, so I dutifully hung my towels and kept the card in the bathroom. Yet, my towels and sheets were changed after one night.
The hotel provides free Wi-Fi and has an art gallery open to the public. The elevators also have art video displays, to amuse you while you ride.
The gym has a large mirrored stretching area, stability balls and a bosu ball. There are plenty of free weights and strength machines. The cardio machines have individual screens.
The front desk was out of running maps when I visited, but one of the guys working there told me his favorite route, which included running over the pedestrian bridge.
The restaurant Gray & Dudley, named for the hardware store formerly in the hotel building, incorporates local ingredients in a market driven menu. For breakfast, I had a perfectly cooked egg white omelet with feta cheese, arugula, mushrooms. The lunch menu offers a vegetarian Bahn Mi of vegetarian avocado, tomato and greens sandwich with sunflower seed aioli. Meat eaters will want to try the ‘not hot’ chicken made with local honey.
A simple lettuce salad was enlivened by shaved radishes and Banyuls vinegar, a wine vinegar that resembles sherry vinegar. I had the fish special, perfectly cooked salmon, at dinner, but there is a strictly vegetarian roasted cauliflower with kale and a sweet and sour peanut sauce.
The restaurant and bar also offer ‘local (ish)’ craft brews that made this New Yorker feel at home: five Nashville beers, a couple from around Tennessee and one from Brooklyn!
I had a delicious chocolate cake, but be sure to save room for a local treat, a GooGoo Cluster. The headquarters is just a couple of blocks from the hotel. Unfortunately, you would have to run there and back about 200 times to burn off the calories.
What works for families
- The penguins bring a sense of fun, always welcome with kids
- Bathrooms have a rubber duck
- You can use the mini bar refrigerator to store a drink or snack
What doesn’t work for families
- No pool
- Not all rooms have a bathtub
Note: Infiniti covered my travel expenses and room at the 21c Museum Hotel. Opinions and laughs were all my own.