Hello, fellow history buffs and travel enthusiasts! Today, we’re embarking on a virtual journey to the quaint mountain town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. More specifically, we’re about to step back in time to discover the charm and allure of the historic hotels in Gatlinburg. In this town, every brick and beam whispers tales from the past, providing a unique blend of comfort and history that modern hotels can’t quite replicate.
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The History of Gatlinburg’s Hotels
Nestled at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg has been a welcoming respite for weary travelers for centuries. From the earliest lodging establishments in the 1800s to the grand historic hotels we see today, Gatlinburg’s accommodation scene has been a cornerstone of its hospitality.
Key figures and important events have shaped this evolution. The town’s first inns were humble establishments serving traders and settlers, while the arrival of the railroad in the 19th century led to the development of more sizable and ornate hotels. As tourism in Gatlinburg increased, these hotels became pivotal landmarks in the town’s landscape, each one telling a unique story about the era it originated from.
Showcasing Top Historic Hotels
Known for its distinctive white siding and green-shuttered windows, The Historic Gatlinburg Inn has been a pillar of the town since it first opened its doors in 1937. The hotel’s founder, R.L. Maples Sr., envisioned a place where travellers could find comfort, respite, and Southern hospitality. His dream took form in this charming inn nestled between the Great Smoky Mountains and the Little Pigeon River.
Each of the inn’s rooms carries its own unique history. The two-story structure has been meticulously maintained over the years, preserving its original layout with minor modifications to accommodate modern comforts. From the vintage wooden floors to the antique furnishings, the hotel’s authentic and traditional decor transports guests to a bygone era.
The Historic Gatlinburg Inn is not only renowned for its nostalgic charm but also its cultural significance. Within the walls of room 388, the world-famous song “Rocky Top” was penned by husband-and-wife songwriting duo Felice and Boudleaux Bryant in 1967. Today, the song is an anthem for the University of Tennessee and the state’s eight official songs.
Moreover, the Inn served as a social hub in the mid-twentieth century, hosting balls, proms, and concerts in its rooftop ballroom. These musical roots are evident in the ‘Rocky Top’ theme found throughout the inn, adding to its distinct character.
Just steps away from Gatlinburg’s bustling main street, the Inn offers easy access to the many attractions the town has to offer while providing a tranquil, nostalgic retreat to its guests. Staying at The Historic Gatlinburg Inn isn’t just a place to rest for the night—it’s a step back in time, an immersion into the heart and soul of Gatlinburg’s history.
Tucked away in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, Buckhorn Inn offers an enchanting blend of tranquility, comfort, and history. Founded by a visionary couple, Doug and Ethel Bebb, in 1938, the inn has been a cherished retreat for those seeking serenity amidst nature. Its 25 acres of undisturbed woodland and well-manicured gardens offer stunning views of Mt. LeConte, providing guests with a picturesque backdrop throughout their stay.
The main inn, with its stone foundation and green gable roof, exudes an aura of rustic elegance. Inside, it’s a treasure trove of vintage charm. The individually decorated rooms and suites—each bearing a unique name—boast period furnishings and quaint fireplaces that echo the inn’s historic roots while providing contemporary comforts.
The Buckhorn experience isn’t limited to its delightful accommodation. Known for its exceptional dining, guests at the inn are treated to hearty breakfasts and four-course dinners served in its glass-enclosed dining room. Here, the panoramic mountain views complement the culinary delights, creating an immersive dining experience.
One of the highlights of Buckhorn Inn is its Pond, home to a flock of geese and ducks. Strolling around the pond, with the majestic mountains in the backdrop, offers a peaceful activity for guests. It’s also not uncommon to spot wild turkeys, deer, and a variety of birds in the inn’s surrounding woods, adding to the sense of tranquility and connection with nature.
Buckhorn Inn, with its captivating beauty and commitment to preserving its historic charm, promises more than just a place to stay. It’s an opportunity to experience the simple pleasures of life, imbued with the magic of the Smoky Mountains and a sense of nostalgia that transcends time.
While not classified as historic, the Park Vista by Doubletree deserves a special mention. This iconic hotel has been a prominent part of Gatlinburg’s skyline since it opened in 1976. Its unique circular structure, nestled amidst the lush greenery of the Smoky Mountains, is a beacon of modern hospitality and comfort. As soon as you enter the revolving doors, you’re greeted by a spacious lobby with an awe-inspiring 360-degree view of the Smokies.
The Park Vista offers a different charm compared to its historic counterparts. The design and amenities, including a multi-level indoor pool and a fire pit lounge area, speak to the hotel’s commitment to modern luxury. Yet, it blends seamlessly into the natural beauty that surrounds it, offering a panoramic view of Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains that is unparalleled.
Over the years, the Park Vista has continued to provide a warm, friendly experience that Doubletree is renowned for, such as the signature chocolate chip cookie welcome. It stands as a symbol of Gatlinburg’s ability to marry its rich, natural beauty with modern conveniences, creating a truly unique and comfortable guest experience. Despite its relative youth compared to the historic hotels, Park Vista has secured its place in Gatlinburg’s lodging legacy.
Bearing the distinction of being one of the longest standing family-owned hotels in Gatlinburg, Zoder’s Inn & Suites carries an undeniable charm that is reflective of its rich history. It was the early 1930s when Mr. and Mrs. Zoder, immigrants from Austria, ventured into Gatlinburg. They opened Zoder’s Inn in 1940, and it has remained in operation ever since.
Situated beside the scenic Roaring Fork River, this captivating inn exhibits a harmonious blend of history, hospitality, and natural beauty. The inn’s unique character is reflected in its Swiss-German inspired architecture, highlighted by stone accents and timber finishes that resonate with Gatlinburg’s mountainous backdrop.
Zoder’s Inn & Suites offers an array of accommodations, each with distinct design elements that nod to the property’s historic past. The rooms and suites, tastefully appointed with vintage and antique-style furnishings, provide a cozy haven for guests. Whether you select a romantic suite, a family-friendly room, or a secluded cabin, you’re ensured an experience that captures the essence of the Smoky Mountains.
The property extends beyond the rooms to include an enchanting environment outside. Majestic trees tower over the inn’s grounds, and beautifully manicured gardens adorn the landscape. The sound of the flowing river and chirping birds adds to the serenity, inviting guests to relax and enjoy the great outdoors.
One of the standout features of Zoder’s Inn is the attention to hospitality. The inn hosts a wine and cheese reception in the evenings and offers milk and cookies at bedtime, adhering to a tradition that Mr. Zoder himself started decades ago.
Zoder’s Inn & Suites is more than a place to rest your head; it’s a part of Gatlinburg’s history. Staying here allows guests to journey back in time while enjoying the comforts of modern hospitality, surrounded by the timeless beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains.
There’s a reason Jack Huff’s Motor Lodge has been a preferred choice for travelers for over seven decades: it perfectly encapsulates the essence of Gatlinburg’s old-world charm while offering modern conveniences. A classic motor lodge built in the 1950s, this establishment has a prominent place in Gatlinburg’s history and the hearts of its guests.
Located in downtown Gatlinburg, the location of Jack Huff’s is one of its defining characteristics. It’s a stone’s throw from Gatlinburg’s main attractions, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is just a short drive away, making it an ideal base for visitors who want to explore the area’s offerings.
Step inside, and you’ll be taken back to a simpler time. The lodge has maintained much of its original architecture and decor, giving it an air of nostalgia that visitors love. The rooms, while exuding a vintage charm, are well-appointed with modern amenities for a comfortable stay. Think clean, cozy rooms with original wood paneling, combined with flat-screen TVs, Wi-Fi, and other current day essentials.
The lodge’s layout is a nod to the classic motor inn design with rooms arranged around a central parking area. This arrangement allows for easy access to vehicles – a convenience that road-trippers and families appreciate.
A standout feature of Jack Huff’s Motor Lodge is its rooftop pool. It’s a rarity in downtown Gatlinburg, and guests can enjoy a swim with a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains. Imagine lounging in the pool after a day of sightseeing, with the Smoky Mountains serving as your backdrop – it’s an experience that truly embodies the spirit of a vacation in Gatlinburg.
The property also includes a picnic area, perfect for enjoying a meal outdoors while soaking in the panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
But what really sets Jack Huff’s Motor Lodge apart is its sense of community. It’s common to see guests congregating in the shared spaces, swapping stories of their adventures, making it a place where new friendships are forged.
With its rich history, stellar location, and warm hospitality, Jack Huff’s Motor Lodge offers an authentic and memorable Gatlinburg experience, preserving the legacy of a bygone era while keeping pace with the expectations of today’s traveler.
Benefits of Staying in Historic Hotels
Staying in a historic hotel is like being given a key to the past. The architectural beauty, the historical value, the tales woven into the very fabric of the building – these create
a unique experience that modern establishments simply cannot provide. These hotels offer a tangible connection to Gatlinburg’s past and a richer, more textured experience of the town’s heritage. You’re not just booking a room; you’re booking a piece of history.
Gatlinburg’s Historical Attractions Near Your Hotel
Of course, the trip down memory lane doesn’t stop at your hotel doorstep. Each of these historic hotels is conveniently located near some of Gatlinburg’s most treasured historical attractions. The Gatlinburg Trolley, for instance, offers a historic trail where you can learn more about the city’s past. There’s also the iconic Old Mill, a testament to the industry that shaped Gatlinburg, and the Ogle Cabin, a window into the lifestyle of the town’s early settlers.
Planning Your Stay
Choosing to stay in one of Gatlinburg’s historic hotels is choosing an experience. To ensure you make the most of it, consider your personal preferences and needs. Each of these hotels offers a unique experience, so research and consider factors like location, amenities, and the specific history that each hotel encapsulates. Booking well in advance is recommended as these popular hotels fill up quickly, especially during peak seasons.
What are some historic hotels in Gatlinburg?
Some historic hotels in Gatlinburg include The Gatlinburg Inn, Buckhorn Inn, The Historic Gatlinburg Inn, Zoders Inn & Suites, and Jack Huff’s Motor Lodge.
What makes a hotel ‘historic’?
A hotel is often considered ‘historic’ if it has a notable past, significant architectural features, and a connection to important events or figures in history.
Are historic hotels more expensive than modern ones?
The cost of staying in a historic hotel can vary, much like any other accommodation. Prices can depend on factors like location, room type, and the time of year. However, the unique experience of staying in a historic hotel often offers great value for the price.
Are there historic attractions near these hotels?
Yes, many of Gatlinburg’s historic attractions are conveniently located near these hotels. Attractions include the Gatlinburg Trolley, Old Mill, and Ogle Cabin, among others.
Stepping into one of Gatlinburg’s historic hotels is like stepping into a time capsule. From the stunning architecture to the storied past of each room, there’s a sense of nostalgia that is both charming and enlightening. And isn’t that what travel is about? Discovering new experiences and gaining a deeper appreciation for the places we visit? So, for your next Gatlinburg visit, why not take a walk through time? Your historic hotel stay awaits!
Now that we’ve taken this virtual tour, it’s your turn to share. Have you stayed in any historic hotels in Gatlinburg? Do you have any tips or favorite experiences? Share in the comments below or tag us on social media. We’d love to hear your tales of historic Gatlinburg!
Remember, your travels are not just about the destination, but the journey and the stories you gather along the way. So, for your next trip to Gatlinburg, make history a part of your story!