Pros: Beautiful indoor gardens
Cons: Just about everything else
When flying into Nashville, it is really quite simple to locate the shuttle service in the baggage claim area of the airport that takes you to the Opryland Hotel. Believe me, these folks don't miss a beat when it comes to ease of service as well as to taking your money.
The Opryland Airport Shuttle is $11 one way but it is best to purchase a round trip ticket for $18, if you can remember to keep the small shuttle ticket stub where you can locate it for your return to the airport. The Gaylord Opryland Hotels shuttle will drop you curbside at the largest and most opulent hotel in Nashville. The shuttle service also makes a stop at the Radisson Hotel, which is also owned by Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Enterprises. The Radisson is located across the street from the Opryland. The shuttle comes and goes from the hotel to the airport and back every thirty minutes during the daytime. I am sure it runs well into the night, but I am not sure that it runs every thirty minutes in the later part of the evening. Since my arriving and departing flights were in the daytime, I could not tell you for certain.
If you are driving to the Opryland Hotel, it is just off Interstate 40 and Opryland Drive in Nashville. The hotel will charge you $14.00 per 24 hour period to park at the hotel, whether you are a guest or not. Using the valet parking service will cost you the same amount as using the self-parking. Hertz offers car rental from inside the lobby of the hotel. However, if you use a Hertz car from Opryland Hotel, you will not be allowed to leave the rental in the Hertz lot when coming and going from the hotel, thus incurring a parking charge from Opryland.
As you enter into the reception area of the Opryland Hotel, you can't help but notice the surroundings. Wonderful tropical gardens and brilliant natural lighting shimmers through the sparking glass dome of the incredible indoor private grounds.
Gazebos, benches, restaurants, and small bars await the guests in the garden area where one can gaze upon the Opryland's own small, manmade river, cascading waterfalls, and beautiful fountains. The Opryland even offers a small boat trip for $5.00 per person on the manmade river.
The first sign of a possible problem is when reality sets in as you gaze toward the check-in line and realize that this is going to take awhile. During my stay in February, which is considered off-season, check-in and Checkout times averaged 35 to 45 minutes.
The Opryland is quite a large hotel with 2,880 guestrooms and 200 suites. The guestrooms are contained within three sections of the hotel. These are the Delta section, which is the largest, the Magnolia section, and the Cascades section. The Garden Conservatory is in the middle of the hotel and it is necessary to cross through the garden area to get to any of the guestrooms. Within the garden area, one can find over 30 shops and restaurants. The restaurants are varied and offer anything from pizza and burgers, muffins, and ice cream, to pasta, shrimp, and steak. The prices vary as well with a sandwich costing anywhere from $5.00 to $9.00 and a pasta dinner costing anywhere from $12.00 to $19.00. A bottle of beer will cost you about $5.00 and a simple glass of wine is anywhere from $5.00 to 9.00. The Opryland Convention Center is adjacent to the hotel and has over 600,000 square feet and can easily accommodate several conferences simultaneously.
A noticeable problem of the Opryland is the sheer vastness of the place. It is easy to get lost in this hotel and frequently during my stay, I was stopped by other guests who were lost and in need of direction. Since I was lost half the time myself, it was rather like the blind leading the blind. Taking the journey from one location to another can be quite a workout. My room was in the Delta section, and it was easily a ten-minute walk to the reception area and a five-minute walk to the convention center. This leads to another concern I had - the elevators. I timed the elevator doors, which closed within 20 seconds after opening. Although this may be an acceptable length of time for a young, physically fit person without baggage, I frequently found myself rushing to avoid getting body slammed. I can only imagine the problems incurred by the elderly and the disabled.
Considering the grandeur of this hotel, and the hefty nightly room rate, one would expect to enter a guestroom with equal stature. My hopes of such opulence in my guestroom were immediately dashed when I first unlocked the door. What lay before me was quite plain and simple. The guestrooms consist of the living space, which accommodates either a king size or two double beds. One wing back chair, a small writing desk and chair, and a chest of drawers for personal belongings. A 25-inch color television rests on the chest of drawers. A computer keyboard console is available and for $15.00 per hour, one may access the web via the television. The cable service is basic with one HBO channel. Pay per view at $5.00 per movie. Also located on the chest of drawers are two 24-ounce bottles of water. An attached note informs the guest that a $4.00 charge will be incurred on the hotel bill for every bottle consumed.
Adjoining the living area is a simple bathroom with one sink, a standard toilet, and a bathtub and shower combination. I found that I really didn?t like the shower area, as the bathtub was higher than standard, creating difficulty and risk of falling upon entry and exit. The single faucet design of the shower created difficulty in adjusting the temperature.
Just outside the bathroom is another small sink and a small mirrored closet. There were four clothes hangers. The closet door proved to be a hassle in such a tight space. If left open, I was unable to open or close the bathroom door. Crammed inside the closet was an ironing board, iron, and hairdryer. A small safe was available, but did not open, despite my thoroughly reading the instructions.
There were two telephones in the room. One was located on the nightstand between the two double beds and the other on the writing desk. The four nights I stayed at the Opryland, the message light was blinking, however, when I tried to access messages, I was told there were none.
The beds are not the best that I have ever slept in at a hotel, nor are they the worst. The beds are a medium firmness. I did call housekeeping and ask for two feather pillow, but apparently this is a rather odd request at the Opryland. It took several hours for housekeeping to accommodate my request, and then it was with two foam (not feather) pillows.
On several occasions, I used the concierge. The Opryland?s concierge is located at an oval desk in the middle of the reception area and has six stations. It was always busy, and waits were inevitable. The noise level in the reception area made communicating with the concierge staff quite difficult. One can call the concierge from the guest room, however, use of their services via telephone, such as reserving tickets to the Grand Ole Opry, will result in a $3.00 charge on the hotel bill.
The Opryland is located halfway between the airport and downtown Nashville. Hence, the area is a bit remote. The hotel offers a shuttle service to downtown Nashville for $5.00 one way or $10.00 round trip. The shuttle makes two stops. One at the Ryman Auditorium, which is the old location for the Grand Ole Opry and at the Wildhorse Saloon. Interestingly, both the Ryman and the Wildhorse are owned by Gaylord Opryland Enterprises. The shuttle arrives every thirty minutes until the last shuttle offered at midnight.
There is a mall within walking distance of the Opryland, which is also owned by Gaylord Enterprises. The Opry Mills Malls has 200 places to shop or eat and offers a movie and IMAX theater. A shuttle service is available from the hotel to the mall, but it is really a short distance to walk. The new Grand Ole Opry is located halfway between the Opryland Hotel and the Opry Mills Mall. The Springhouse Golf Club is an 18-hole course and home to the BellSouth Senior Classics. A shuttle is available to and from the golf course. Gaylord also owns the Grand Ole Opry and the Springhouse Golf Club, and one begins to wonder what in Nashville isn?t owned by this operation.
Although I would certainly recommend paying a visit to the Opryland Hotel while staying in Nashville, I would not recommend acquiring accommodations there. Nashville offers numerous hotels at much more affordable rates than the Opryland making the cost of $200 per night at this hotel overpriced.