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Hotel Check: The Oliver Hotel

Knoxville, TN

WHERE IS IT? Smack dab in the heart of downtown and on Market Square, the hotel could not have a more central location to great dining, bars, shops and nearby office buildings. The University of Tennessee at Knoxville campus, Knoxville Convention Center and the World’s Fair site is not far away.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? COVID-19 restrictions meant that there were adjustments in the restaurant and bar, but service remained fantastic and friendly. The historic hotel building is loaded with character, dating back to 1876. In 2020, it saw a total renovation that strikes the right balance between a modern look with historic charm. The property is part of the Southern Living Hotel Collection. High ceilings, bright colors, arched windows with plantation shutters, and art deco furnishings abound. The hotel is especially popular with visiting business travelers and production crews that come to the city with Discovery, Inc. Local art pieces fill the hotel from the dramatic stairway to the bar and lounge.

ROOM FACILITIES The sizeable guest rooms, each different in style and design, are fresh from a face lift and feature soft carpeting, art deco appointments, and super-soft bedding with thick duvets, cushioned headboards and a stack of oversized pillows. On either side of the bed, power and USB outlets provide convenience. Minibars stock local products including barrel aged bourbon, and rooms have refrigerators and coffeemakers. Antique pieces add pizzazz around the rooms. I stayed in the two-room Oliver Suite, which had some great art deco touches plus retro accents like a coat stand and vintage chairs. Bathrooms are bright and stocked with Roil toiletries and terry cloth robes. My suite had a soaking tub with bath salts as well as large glass shower stall.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS Tupelo Honey shares space with the hotel on Market Square, but it is Oliver Royale that has locals abuzz for its bistro fare and setting. It also has a patio facing Market Square. The craft cocktail menu is impressive as are inventive dishes like confit short rib and a snow crab Caesar salad using local ingredients. The Peter Kern Library is another hot spot with a menu of light bites as well as a long roster of cocktails. The menus for this clever speakeasy are sewn into vintage books. Guests must know the secret password to pass the red rope and enter the bar from the lobby; the other entrance is down a side alley with nothing more than a red lamp indicating there is something intriguing inside. New cocktail booths inside have power outlets built in, and the throwback setting is the perfect place to kick off an evening on the town.

LEISURE FACILITIES There is no fitness center, but given the downtown location, guests can easily jog around town. The hotel has a fleet of bikes that guests can borrow.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES A computer work station with printer is available on the third floor, and free wireless Internet works throughout the hotel.

VERDICT This Knoxville hotel has the most character of any hotel in town, and its location along Market Square puts travelers in the center of the action.

HOW MANY ROOMS? 28 rooms and suites

PROPERTY HIGHLIGHTS On bustling Market Square, this hotel has great dining, cocktails, and local flair.

PRICE Internet rates for a traditional room start at $165.

CONTACT 407 Union Ave., Knoxville, TN 37902, Phone 865-521-0050.