By ABBY ELYSSA, Associate Editor at InspireDesign Magazine - October 14, 2021
The Hermitage Hotel, Nashville’s celebrated gathering place for more than 110 years, has shared details of its upcoming restaurant launch and hotel-wide redesign. The standard-bearer for luxury in Nashville, the 122-room Hermitage will unveil two new dining outlets, a top-to-bottom design refresh of guestrooms and public spaces and other signature touches, beginning later this month. Charting the way forward for the hotel’s next 100 years, the new enhancements will underscore The Hermitage Hotel’s identity as Nashville’s premier independent luxury hotel and offer the city’s most authentic expression of gracious, modern-day Southern hospitality.
“Anyone who has visited the Hermitage Hotel knows that the moment you pass her thresholds you are filled with anticipation—the arrival design pulls you through a stately but modest arrival vestibule and the grand lobby beyond slowly begins to reveal itself to you as you ascend the street-level stairs, anticipation growing with each step,” said Toby Bishop, NCIDQ, associate principal, ForrestPerkins. “It is truly an aspirational space and that feeling you get upon arrival emerged as our guiding inspiration for the redesign. We didn’t want that feeling to end, our challenge was to strike a balance between heritage and modernity—some spaces needed to be streamlined and modernized whereas others lacked that connection to heritage. As we moved through the hotels’ design development, we were sure to glance back at her history while looking forward to her future. We’ve woven in elements of design which will remind the guest of the significant surrounding they occupy, creating a sense of exploration and discovery with new modern classic furnishing and maybe a few hints of whimsy, a sense of humor never goes out of style.”
Prepare to meet Drusie & Darr
The centerpiece of The Hermitage Hotel’s multi-year project is Drusie & Darr, a new restaurant and bar from internationally celebrated chef and restaurateur Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who will oversee the direction of all culinary aspects of the hotel. Admired for his acumen as a chef, tastemaker and businessman operating 40 acclaimed restaurants around the globe, including recently opened Marigold at The Hermitage Hotel’s sister property, Keswick Hall, in Charlottesville, VA, Jean-Georges selected The Hermitage Hotel for his first location in the South. With Drusie & Darr, he has envisioned a convivial, contemporary restaurant and bar that will showcase the abundance of Tennessee’s regional produce, some of which will be sourced from The Hermitage Hotel’s Garden at Glen Leven. The menu, inspired by the seasons and Tennessee’s culinary heritage, will welcome hotel guests and neighbors alike for any occasion—from cocktails and a sophisticated evening out, to a glass of wine and pizza from the wood-fired oven, or a relaxed family dinner.
Opening later this month, the restaurant is named after brother and sister Drusie and Darr Hall, the children of the hotel’s former General Manager Dick Hall. With a childhood seemingly plucked from a storybook, the duo lived, played and grew up in the hotel, winning over the hearts of staff and guests and having adventures large and small, such as helping the banquet team plate dishes during events and helping the elevator operator run the elevators up and down.
Setting the perfect stage for Drusie & Darr’s spirited cuisine, The Hermitage Hotel’s former Capitol Grille dining room and bar are undergoing a modern update from award-winning interior designer Thomas Juul-Hansen. The mastermind behind the interiors of all Jean-Georges’ restaurants has conceived a glamorous space that will introduce new warmth and ambiance while honoring the room’s iconic architectural details. Juul-Hansen is drawing on a simple palette of natural materials—metal, wood, leather and stone—complemented by dramatic lighting from the world-renowned L’Observatoire International that will uplift the restaurant’s famous arched ceilings. All furnishings, from the mother-of-pearl pendant lamps to the seating, tables and curved banquettes, will be entirely bespoke to Drusie & Darr. A new, dedicated restaurant entrance will be directly accessible from Sixth Ave., establishing the venue as a dining destination unto itself.
“We wanted the guests’ experience of the hotel to be more a journey and exploration,” Bishop said. “We worked to infuse subtle hints to the local history and culture as an opportunity for guest discovery. When sitting in the lobby, you may notice a series of hand-painted panels flanking the veranda with hidden birds and yellow roses which nod to the Women’s Suffragette movement. As you circulate the guest corridors and accommodations, you may find a whiskey flask hidden in a book which is a playful reminder of the days of prohibition or a collection of silver platters long retired from the service of the Grand Ballroom. We wanted to present the guest with an opportunity to seek out and discover these subtle hints and reminders to the locale and its significance.”
For pastries, light bites and pre-theater champagne, Think Pink
Opening in late fall on the corner of Union and Sixth Ave., The Pink Hermit will be a chic café and take-away conceived by Jean-Georges and The Hermitage Hotel team and designed by Juul-Hansen. Its name is derived from the definition of hermitage as a “secluded retreat,” and this intimate space, clad in pale pink and gray marble, will welcome guests with cozy seating, both indoors and outdoors. The café’s concept will evolve throughout the day—from a coffee bar serving delectable pastries in the morning, to a casual take-away for lunch, and later, a wine bar serving small bites, champagne and craft cocktails in the evening, perfect for pre- and post-theater gatherings.
A room for the ladies
A whimsical punctuation mark to the modern updates of the ground-floor and lower-level restaurants will be a new, 21st-century answer to The Hermitage Hotel’s famous 1930s-era Art Deco men’s room (Nashville’s original “photo moment”). Debuting this fall will be a glamorous new ladies’ room in a design that will be equally photo-worthy. Taking its cue from the men’s room’s horizontal tilework in stripes of lime green and black, the new ladies’ room will be lavishly decorated with striped walls of variegated pink marble, inlaid marble flooring, arched doorways, rose gold-framed mirrors and glamorous lighting throughout.
“I think this balance of modernity and heritage really does create some exciting moments, this juxtaposition creates a beautiful harmony in the grand lobby,” Bishop said. “We freshened up the entire lobby paint scheme, respecting the architecture and ceiling details but adding more flexible lounge and dining opportunities with modern, streamlined furniture—the lobby has emerged as a bright and activated space with a new energy and excitement. Artwork also plays an integral role, designed to draw the guest in near—to experience and discover more. Our goal was to create an engaging guest journey from the point of entry to the bedside table, peppering in unexpected and subtle details, we hope the guests continue to explore and enjoy the Hermitage for years to come.”
Rejuvenating the social epicenter of Nashville
Considered one of Nashville’s architectural treasures, the soaring Beaux Arts lobby of The Hermitage Hotel has been lovingly restored and updated to welcome guests with luxurious modern-day comforts. The original 1910 painted glass ceiling, ornamental plaster details and Tennessee marble, all designed by Tennessee architect James E.R. Carpenter, have been meticulously preserved, while the entire space has been brightened with an updated color palette and new furnishings in textured shades of blue and silver. Nearly completed, the lobby refresh features all-new seating, lighting and casegoods, creating a warm and inviting setting for an evening drink. Interior design firm Forrest Perkins is overseeing all design updates of the lobby, adjacent ballroom and all guestrooms and suites. The Hermitage Hotel Ballroom, site of many of Nashville’s most important political and social events, will be refreshed with new carpeting, updated lighting and artwork, all selected to complement the room’s striking Circassian walnut paneling.
The Hermitage Hotel’s oversized guestrooms—averaging 450-500 sq. ft.—are all undergoing a decor update that will infuse the interiors with a more modern aesthetic and introduce an elevated residential feel. Desks will be replaced with tables that can double as workspaces or be used for in-room dining, and new millwork will conceal updated minibars and other amenities. Deep jewel tones will be replaced with a new neutral color palette, and layers of texture will replace patterns, creating a serene effect. Artwork is being sourced locally and will take inspiration from the history of the hotel and nature-inspired elements from the region. All guestrooms and suites will feature ultra-premium DUXâ beds from Duxianaâ, the world’s foremost makers of technologically advanced luxury beds for nearly 100 years. Redesigned guestrooms will be available later this year. The hotel’s three Executive Suites and the Presidential Suite will complete design updates in early 2022.
“The story we’re trying to tell is that which has long been established, it just needed a little polishing for new and future generations,” Bishop said. “If we did our job right, we’ve reframed the story for new chapters while animating it with an exciting new guest journey paired with the impeccable service that only the Hermitage can provide.”