Rising above the rolling hills of Bristol, where Main Street literally divides the town between Tennessee and Virginia, rests the recently renovated Bristol Hotel. Justifiably landing on the USA Today 10Best list for Best New Hotels in 2019, this boutique redesign offers a cool, inviting twist to its Appalachian setting, greeting travelers with a hip, modern interior and all the comforts of a four-star retreat.
As a city landmark—the Classical Revival–style hotel was erected in 1925 by the nephew of R.J. Reynolds—the building evolved over time into professional office spaces. But last October saw the property return to its roots as an iconic lodging destination. The enchanting 65-room hotel has such a wide offering of compelling features, you might have trouble tearing yourself away. Rooms and suites are luxe and welcoming, with comfortable beds, tech-friendly plugs, high-end bathrooms, and remarkable views. They’re also pet-friendly for fur buddies under 40 pounds, each of whom gets its very own turn-down service. The handsome lobby’s soaring ceiling crowns delightfully modern lounge areas, accented with glimmering chandeliers, while rooftop bar Lumac sports craft cocktails and light bites with sumptuous views of the Appalachians Mountains.
Early in the evening we take advantage of the rooftop, where Lumac’s blackberry Manhattan steals the show. Curiosity then drives us into a stylish elevator for a trip down to Vivian’s Table. The vibe changes from sleek modern to industrial-chic hangout when we step into the Southern-style restaurant and bar, accented with exposed brick walls and lofty ceilings. A massive bookcase holds artful tomes carved of wood; leather straps anchor the room’s banquette seating. We learn later that leather accents within Vivian’s Table were inspired by Bristol’s booming leather industry in the early twentieth century. Friday night acoustic guitar stylings and vocals waft through the bar courtesy of a local duo; coupled with deviled eggs and another craft cocktail, it makes for a blissful evening.
While a stay at the updated hotel is reason enough to point your car north, the city itself shines with opportunity. The Birthplace of Country Music Museum, adjacent to the hotel, shares the story of The Bristol Sessions, a seminal set of 1927 recordings nicknamed “the Big Bang of country music.” Downtown also holds a plethora of antique stores, and there are several breweries in the area, including the headquarters of Yee-Haw Brewing Company.
Nearby, South Holston Lake is one of Tennessee’s largest. Adjacent to the Cherokee National Forest, its stunning mountain scenery and reputation as a fly- and bass-fishing paradise lures anglers from across the East. Countless trophy trout have come from the South Holston River and nearby streams. Though the river’s North Fork is renowned for bass fishing, it also appeals to paddling and tubing enthusiasts.
If you’d like to visit one of NASCAR’s most thrilling tracks, book The Bristol Hotel early for the annual NASCAR Cup Series race in April, or the night race in August—both are run at the beloved Bristol Motor Speedway. Whatever your adventure preference, this charming town and its brand-new hotel hotspot provide a truly elegant mountain escape.
The Bristol Hotel, 510 Birthplace of Country Music Way, Bristol, VA; (276) 696-3535, bristolhotelva.com