Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
The Read House Hotel is located at 107 MLK Blvd. in the heart of downtown Chattanooga. If you’re flying into Chattanooga, the hotel is about a 15-minute drive from the airport. If you want luxury and comfort at a mid-range hotel price in a central location, The Read House is a Chattanooga hotel to put on your idea list for where to stay in Chattanooga.
The writer was hosted.
The Read House is the longest continuously operating hotel in the southeast and holds a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel has gone through several renovations throughout the years; it retains all of the old-world glamor (the lobby and bar area have a 1920s glam theme) with none of the “really old hotel” vibes.
From a valet tipping his bowler hat to you as soon as you enter the lobby to comfort and amenities throughout your stay, the Read House is a historic hotel offering an immersive experience from check-in to check-out and the perfect base camp for exploring Chattanooga and the surrounding area.
This sale is valid until 6/4/2023.
More about the Read House Hotel
While the gleaming marble and gilt accents in the lobby may suggest a strong adults-only theme, this hotel is for everyone, from families to couples or other adult-only groups. Certain rooms in the Read House are small pet friendly.
If you like a hotel that packs some history (and maybe a ghost or two), then Read House is for you. It started as a rooming house in the 1840s and has also been a drugstore that sold Coca-Cola and rented rooms before assuming the name of Read House in 1926.
Famous guests include Jefferson Davis, Winston Churchill, Al Capone, and Ronald Regan, although the most famous guest is Annalisa Neverly, who is such a part of the hotel’s history that she has her own section below.
Even if you don’t select the Read House Hotel for your trip to Chattanooga, you can walk by and look at the displays on the sidewalk that tell the hotel’s story over the years. Anyone can make a visit to the lobby or have a drink in their elegant bar or check out the Read House’s onsite Starbucks.
My Chattanooga Stay
I divided my three-and-a-half days in Chattanooga with downtown activities and more active pursuits around the Lookout Mountain area, which is about six miles from downtown Chattanooga. I loved being able to walk or take the free shuttle around downtown Chattanooga. The city is easy to navigate on foot, and if you’re up for walking a mile or so, you can get to a lot of cool places in the city.
I thought the Read House was very conveniently located, and it was near everything I wanted to do while I was in town. There’s no free parking in downtown Chattanooga during the day (some of the lots and street meters don’t charge to park after six p.m.), but I was able to find plenty of paid parking when I needed it.
There’s an electric shuttle that stops right across the street from the hotel (go out the side entrance where the restaurants are), and you’ll see the shuttle stop. The shuttles are clean and convenient if you’re flexible on time, but overall, I found the wait time longer than what was posted. If you’re not in a hurry, a free ride is a free ride.
The elegant lobby sets the tone for your Read House experience. Marble floors, the hotel’s original crystal chandeliers, and plush 1920s-style furniture make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The uniforms of the hotel personnel stay true to the period. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen hotel housekeeping with a knee-length black dress with a ruffled apron. Every little detail adds to the feeling of another time.
Off the lobby is a library stocked with books, gaming tables, and places to sit and people-watch. If you walk straight through the lobby, you’ll go into the newer section of the hotel, where the small fitness center and indoor pool are located.
If you go left, you’ll be in the bar and billiards area with adjacent meeting rooms, and if you go right, you’ll hit the elevators to the historic tower rooms and the restaurant and coffee shop areas. The public areas are available for anyone to come to explore.
The Read House has 241 guest rooms and suites divided between the Historic Tower and the Manor House. The Manor House is the newer part of the hotel, and while you can tell what’s newer while viewing the building from the exterior, the interior transitions are seamless.
The Manor House rooms are slightly less expensive than the Historic Tower rooms. They’re still very nice and comfortable, with the same level of amenities and services but the Art Deco theming is stronger in the tower.
Available room types include Executive King Suite, Premier King, Premier Double Queen, and Premier Queen. Accessible rooms are also available.
The premier rooms have more floor space and larger, black and white marble tiled bathrooms.
Available room types include Deluxe King, Deluxe Double Queen, Traditional King, and Traditional Queen. Accessible rooms are also available.
The deluxe rooms have more floor space and modern, clean decor.
The Read House Offers the Following Room Amenities:
- Complimentary wifi
- Keurig coffee makers + Tea and Coffee
- Room Service (an extra charge applies, the menu is in-room.)
- Bath amenities (shampoo, conditioner, soap/body wash)
- Mini fridge
- Ceramic coffee/tea mugs and crystal water glasses
- Full heating and air conditioning
My trip to Chattanooga was working travel, and I made use of the free wifi at the hotel. I was very pleased with the speed and stability of the connection.
The hotel offers valet parking for $24 per day, which doesn’t include tipping the valet. There’s no dedicated free self-parking, although there are parking lots and garages all throughout downtown.
Premier King Corner Room
I stayed in a Premier King Corner Room on the eighth floor. The room had three windows and a small table with two chairs if I wanted to eat or work in my room. It also had a small upholstered chair and a bench at the foot of the king bed.
I had a walk-in closet with storage drawers and two bathrobes. My coffee tray was atop the set of drawers. The closet lights automatically opened when I opened the doors.
The bed, linens, and pillows were comfortable, and I enjoyed the clean, elegant decor. Since the room was a corner, I had extra floor space. The feeling of openness was nice, but I didn’t need all that room.
My door had a privacy feature where I could flip a switch and let housekeeping know not to knock versus having to manually put out a do not disturb sign. I had two complimentary bottles of water in my room. Housekeeping did not replace the water, but I got complimentary bottled water from the front desk for the duration of my stay.
There was a large bathroom with a long vanity and a lighted magnifying mirror. The room had a tiled walk-in shower, and no tub, which I’m finding is becoming standard with most hotel rooms these days unless they’re older or at the highest level of luxury.
The towels were above-average quality, very soft, and plush. I hang my bath towel up each day because I use my towel more than once before washing it. Housekeeping replaced my towels every day anyway.
The provided toiletries were of average quality. There was no lotion provided, which is a standard issue in most hotels of this caliber. If you rely on hotel toiletries for short trips, as I do, you’ll want to pack that lotion if that is something you use.
Pool and Gym
The pool and gym are in the Manor (newer) section of the hotel. I did not use either, but I did visit both to get a look at the facilities.
The gym is small, but it has all of the standard equipment anyone needs to get a workout in, including two Peloton bikes. The indoor pool is well maintained with towel service and plenty of seating.
The ghost of Annalisa Neverly is believed to haunt room 311, where she was allegedly beheaded by a jealous lover in the room’s bathtub in 1927. The term allegedly is used because the whodunit part is a mystery – Netherly did die a bloody death and was found in the bathtub of room 311.
Guests over the years have reported paranormal activity in the room, including unexplained noises, flickering lights, running water, and more. A number of male guests have reported being pinched and shoved, which may suggest the room’s ghost has an axe to grind with men.
The only room in Read House with a physical key.
During the Read House’s most recent renovation, the room was restored to its original 1920s state. This is the only door in the hotel that opens with a physical key. Amenities include a clawfoot tub and an AM radio.
The room was restored to give Annalisa Netherly some peace and quiet in comfortable, familiar surroundings.
Stay in Room 311 in October – If you dare
Room 311 is available for rent on Saturday nights in October and on Halloween night. According to Jim Bambrey, Read House Hotel General Manager, the October reservations sell out within five minutes after being open to the public. Bambrey estimates roughly half the October guests don’t last the night.
Anyone can tour Room 311. Inquire at the desk about guided tour availability, and if staff is available to give you a look, you can go in and take pictures. Learn more about Chattanooga’s ghosts with Chattanooga Ghost Tours.
Dining and Bar
Although the convenient downtown location of the Read House will make you want to get out and explore, there are dining options inside the hotel, too. All dining is open to non-hotel guests.
Bridgeman’s Chop House
Bridgeman’s Chop House is the hotel’s premier on-site restaurant. The sophisticated setting – think dark wood walls, elegant white tablecloths, and waitstaff in dapper uniforms – sets the tone for a “treat yourself” style meal.
The menu includes a selection of raw and chilled seafood, wet and dry-aged steaks, and other specialty dishes such as lamb, veal, and seafood. If you’re in the mood for dessert or an indulgent after-dinner drink, Bridgeman’s won’t let you down there. There is also an extensive wine list and a full bar.
Named for a beloved employee
Bridgeman’s is named for Peter “Rabbit” Bridgeman who worked at the hotel for 47 years. A salad on the menu is named for him. Onsite photos and displays pay homage to the restaurant’s namesake. who had heard of The Read House knew of the legendary Peter “Rabbit” Bridgeman. He served and charmed hotel and dining guests for 47 years.
Bridgeman’s Chop House is open for dinner only. Reservations recommended.
Whether you need that quick cup of coffee to go before heading out to explore Chattanooga or want to sit and enjoy a pastry or prepared breakfast sandwich, the Starbucks, just off the lobby, is a place to stop and grab what you need.
Bar and Billiards
The Read House’s speakeasy-style bar sits just off the lobby and serves lunch and dinner. Like all good speakeasies, the billiard table is tucked in the back behind pocket doors. The billiard room is adults-only in the evenings.
The food menu has a variety of sandwiches, salads, and small plates to satisfy your hunger. There’s a full bar and a cocktail menu with creatively named 1920s-inspired cocktails, such as The Death of Annalisa, named for room 311’s famous guest who never checked out.
Flapper Hour is daily from 5-7 p.m. with daily specials on both food and snacks.
Things to Do Nearby
While you’ll want to get out and explore the Chattanooga area outside of downtown, there’s no shortage of things to explore within an easy walk or short drive from Read House. Here are my picks for things to do off-site:
- Guided ghost walking tour
- Craft beer tasting and walking tour
- Derailed trolley tour and train ride
- Ruby Falls
- Explore the Chattanooga Choo Choo (which is not a train but a building.)
If you’re traveling to Chattanooga with kids, the Tennessee Aquarium is a don’t-miss. Also, check out Los Trompos, which is a large-scale, interactive art installation inspired by the shape of large, spinning tops in a variety of shapes sitting along the Tennessee River. Los Trompos and the Tennessee Aquarium are within walking distance of each other and can easily be combined in the same visit with no change in parking. Just walk toward the river before or after your aquarium visit.
Final Thoughts – Should You Stay at The Read House?
Prime location, old-world elegance, comfortable rooms at a great price, and loaded with on-site amenities and extras? What’s not to like? I stayed as a solo traveler but would have been comfortable at this hotel with my husband and children.
The staff is beyond friendly, and while I didn’t experience the bar or get my coffee at Starbucks (I favor the locally-owned spots within walking distance, like Sleepyhead Coffee and Dawn), my meal at Bridgeman’s Chop House was superb.
I have nothing negative to say, and I recommend this beautiful hotel in the heart of downtown Chattanooga to all types of travelers who want to be close to the action in downtown Chattanooga.
But I’m a bit of a scaredy cat.
I don’t necessarily believe in ghosts, but I don’t disbelieve anything. Even though I was assured Annalisa Netherly’s ghost doesn’t roam beyond room 311, and my room was nowhere near that part of the hotel, I had a fairly sleepless night after touring her room on the last night.
I felt nothing weird in her room or mine, and I’ll chalk my insomnia up to an active imagination and being in a hotel room alone.
Leave a Reply