Adaptive Reuse is Hard to Refuse

Historic travel girl loves things that used to be other things. Like flip flops that used to be school bus tires. And shoppers with long handles Macgyvered from old license plates and toothpaste caps.

In fact, when historic travel girl was really just a girl, she found a blacksmith (not easy to do before the Internet, folks) who agreed to take discarded door hinges from our renovated barn and turn them into wall sconces. I gave them to my dad for Christmas. He still has them.

All of this is to say that I love love love hotels that weren’t hotels originally.

So I figured I would adore the Union Station Hotel ( in Nashville, TN. I checked in late one Thursday night, exhausted from the long day of work and the short flight from BWI. Even in my bleary-eyed state, I was knocked out by the impressive lobby, and its 65 foot barrel-vaulted ceiling. Trust me, folks, this is a serious neck-cricking opportunity.

As you’ve probably deduced, Union Station used to be a train station. And the Wyndham Group, which has run the hotel since 2007, keeps some of the coolest features of its original use. Like the train schedule, posted behind the check in desk. I noticed right away that said schedule included The Dixie Flyer and it’s scheduled stop in Nashville. So, even though I was bone tired, I found myself humming the Randy Newman song (

Today, the hotel/railroad station has 125 rooms, although a lot of them are more like suites (mine had two rooms, and–since I was traveling for work, justincasemybossisreading–I didn’t request a special room). The other rooms were nice, too, fitted into the old offices in the upper floors of the station.

You’ll like the location of the hotel–just a short walk from Second Avenue and the honky tonks that line its historic streets. And you’ll like the staff, who have no problem taking time from their duties to show you where the alligator ponds used to be in the lobby, or tell you about the time Al Capone came through on his way to the Georgia penitentiary (note: it would be a better story if he fed one of the FBI agents to the alligators, but I think his trip was pretty run-of-the-mill).
All in all, I went to Union Station a bedraggled business traveler. I left a happy historic travel girl once again. See why I love things that used to be other things?