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A Glimpse into Building a Custom Experiential Hotel

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Noelle, an experiential hotel opening in downtown Nashville later this year, is returning to its original prestige, having once been the location of Noel Place, a luxury hotel dating back to 1929. Rockbridge, an investment platform in Columbus, Ohio, and Makeready, the Dallas-based hospitality development firm, who are partnering to lead the project, have engaged local talent throughout the hotel's ecosystem. From the architecture firm responsible for the design to the makers tapped to create art, furniture and textiles, the project showcases the best ofNashville's creative community.

The result is a multi-faceted venture that features unique takes on traditional amenities. These include a restaurant, Makeready Libations & Liberation; a boutique, Keep Shop; and a café, Drug Store Coffee. Guests and visitors will also be pleased to discover unexpected initiatives like Little Prints, a retail store with a working printing press to be operated by local artist Bryce McCloud, who will serve as curator of Noelle's robust visual art program highlighting Nashville artists.

Here, two members of the Noelle team reflect on the hallmarks of the progressive initiative, while honoring its history. Learn more about the groundbreaking hotel by visiting and on Instagram at noelle_nashville.


How was the location for Noelle selected?

Christine Magrann, COO, Makeready: The building itself was an important influence. We felt a connection with the rich history of Noel Place and recognized an opportunity to celebrate the heritage of the building while layering in modern design influ­ences to create a platform for a brand that will simulta­neously pay homage to the city's history and push its narrative forward. 

The project tapped primarily Nashville natives or locals – was this purposeful?

C.M.: As we create a venue that's a gathering place for the city's most interesting voices and makers, we have been thoughtful to promote and champion their brands alongside our own. We want to create a brand that's more than the sum of its parts. Noelle will bring people together by showing them warmth and richness that one experiences when people treat others thoughtfully and with care, and what happens when creativity is given a home in which to grow. 


There's a resounding sentiment of community within in the city. How is this realized in Noelle?

Libby Callaway, cre­ative consultant, The Callaway: As Nashville grows, there has been a major movement toward preservation, not only of our historic structures and traditions, but of how we as residents interact with each other. Changes in local geography coupled with the isolating nature of technology mean that there are fewer chances for us to have personal interactions. Noelle was designed to appeal to both solace-seekers and those who want to connect. Every one of the 12 stories offers visitors opportunities to interact, like seating areas in the rooftop bar, Rare Bird, and in the Trade Room on the first level to the water centers located on every guest floor hallway, which we expect will create an additional opportunity for guests to encounter their neighbors as they fill their room's carafes with still or sparkling water. We're also planning creative programming designed to bring the Nashville community back to Noelle repeatedly. We want them to think of it as a warm gathering place that's welcoming to all.

Nashville is increasingly becoming a destination for coastal ex-pats, what's drawing them to the city (and why now?)

 L.C.: Space. And by this I mean room to spread out physically, of course, but also to expand creatively. New York and Los Angeles have become expensive places to do business, especially for artists. Thanks to its relative affordability, Nashville offers a strong alternative to the coasts. The music business has provided our city with its longtime identity as a safe haven for creatives – of all types. Over the last few decades, the definition of a Nashville artist has expanded to include more than just musicians: we have visual artists, chefs, dancers, writers, fashion designers, and makers of all kinds. People aren't just moving to Nashville to write songs; they're coming to design clothes and choreograph ballets and open restaurants.

 Beyond that, I think people are coming to Nashville because they want something different. The buzz we've gotten lately in the press has been incredible, so a lot of people want to see "It City" for themselves. The clincher is a visit. And people come to satisfy their curiosity, more times than not they're charmed by Nashville's cultural offerings and our daily existence, which for a healthy part of the population is dedicated to creating – making art, building community, or both simultaneously.


How will guests of Noelle enjoy an exclusive experience of the city?

 L.C.: Noelle offers guests a singular opportunity to experience the Nashville that locals know. From the start, the hotel's mission has been to honor the city's past while spotlighting the creative best of its present. The hotel team is doing this in all areas of the physical hotel and through its amenities, whether we're working with local artisans to preserve the architecture of the original hotel, Noel Place; contracting local artists and makers to produce exclusive products for our store, Keep Shop; sourcing food from local vendors for the main restaurant, Makeready Libations & Liberation; or installing a working press as an homage to the namesake industry that once dominated Printer's Alley, the historic district that runs along the back of our building. 

Additionally, Noelle will publish an in-house newspaper three times a year that highlights the parallels between Nashville's history and its present by profiling the people who have shaped or are shaping our culture, whether through creative, business or civic leadership. The team is paying special attention to the historical and cultural topography of Nashville with maps and other imagery. In that way, the paper will give visitors a chance to experience a city that they're not going to find in a typical guidebook, yet that's right outside Noelle's front door.

 It's apparent that Nashville creatives are never far from acknowledging the city's roots and history – what in this project recognizes this?

 Nick Dryden, architect and owner, Dryden Architecture & Design (DAAD): The overriding design narrative for Noelle is a reflective approach to the original Noel Place's contribution to Nashville's downtown history.  Reinventing a 1930s hotel with a rich collective of Nashville's most creative partners including designers, architects, artists, musicians, writers, curators and storytellers is a provocative approach to place-making and a galvanizing effort to offer visitors to Nashville a home to engage locals in authentic dialogue with our city's history and what is happening now.  

There's a tension between the fear of over-development and new, creative progressions. Where does Noelle lie in this and how does it strike this balance?

 N.D.: I think it's important to understand a place's history and a city's patterns of development. It is essential to respect a built environment's fabric and the stories that shape a community.  Now is an important time for Nashville during this cycle of growth to find a balance of adding new layers to the bedrock of place. Design and narrative will continue to play a big part of maintaining a healthy flora within the Nashville community and we feel Noelle is a narrative that will show how this can be done sustainably.  


Noelle hotel guest suite.

Noelle hotel guest suite.

Article and photo credit: WWD