The Union Station
The history of Union Station in Nashville dates back to the beginning of the 20th century when trains were more popular than cars or airplanes.
The golden age of American railroading was between 1900 and the late 1940s. By 1916, there were 254,000 miles (409,000 kilometers) of railways across the country, with over 85,000 railroad stations.
It connected smaller and bigger cities into the country's bloodstream with safe and efficient public transportation.
During this period, most people traveled by train, with the richest enjoying luxury cars with beds and candlelit dinners.
Nashville's Union Station was one of the first to open in 1900, and it soon became one of the economic and transportation centers of the US.
Settlers, vacationers, business people, and even federal agents frequented Nashville's newest landmark. One day, Al Capone was escorted to the Union Station to transport him to the US Penitentiary in Atlanta.
The building's architect was Richard Montfort, a Louisville & Nashville Railroad engineer. Although he had no professional background in architecture, his dedication and years of planning made up for it.
The almost castle-like Union Station, with its tower and turrets, stands as a central landmark in Nashville and deservedly has been a Historic Hotels of America member since 2015.
The Romanesque Revival style can be spotted in the design of the Union Station building when you look at its brick and roughly finished stone facade and coursed round arches.
Marriott Union Station Nashville
Unfortunately, as motor vehicles and airplanes took over the roads and skies, railways started to fall into decay during the 1960s of America.
With the decrease in demand, in 1979, the train service came to a complete halt. Consequently, the Union Station's building was abandoned and left to rot.
Thankfully, a group of investors saw the immense potential and bought the building a couple of years later. After a thorough renovation, the Union Station Hotel was opened in 1986, offering 125 rooms and 12 suites.
In 2012, Union Station was sold to Marriott. After an extensive renovation of all the rooms and public spaces, it opened its doors again for guests under the upscale Autograph Collection brand in 2016.
Best hotel lobby in the world
The hotel's Grand Lobby was once busy with travelers rushing to their trains. Today, this unique setting with imposing chandeliers and limestone fireplaces hosts live music every evening.
The vaulted ceiling in the lobby towers 65 feet high (20 meters), and its spectacular stained glass lets in the light filled with colors.
The hotel's walls are decorated with bas-relief sculptures, two of which are called "Miss Nashville" and "Miss Louisville". They depicted the daughters of two of the builders.
During the renovation, they saved the original tiles of the train station and used them for designing the bar and restaurant.
The Ergo Bar, built around one of the train station's columns, offers small-plate appetizers made of Tennessean ingredients and handcrafted cocktails in the unique environment of the Grand Hall.
The hotel's on-site restaurant is set in the historic landmark's interior among the beautiful granite stone walls, with plenty of natural light through its large arched windows.
Brunch starts at 7 AM, dinner from 5 PM, and Bourbon & Boxcars "Tea" happens every Thursday. Why "Tea"? Because it's a journey into the prohibition era when the consumption of alcohol had to be concealed.
Nostalgia meets modern design, where you are reminded of the building's past through the artwork on the walls and the railway lines when you look outside the window.