Nashville's coolest lodging has a no-glitter policy

Stacey Lastoe, CNNPublished 23rd August 2018
Nashville, TN (CNN) — Lyon Porter has turned the bed and breakfast on its head.
Porter is the owner of Urban Cowboy, "your home away from home" with locations in Nashville, Tennessee, and Brooklyn, New York.
Originally from Ohio, Porter had been living in New York City for 15 years when he developed the first Urban Cowboy. He designed the Brooklyn location as his "dream house," but its success motivated him to conceive of a second Urban Cowboy.
The 1890s Queen Anne Victoria with wrap-around porch once belonged to a doctor, who practiced medicine out of the home. The building is located in east Nashville, what many refer to as the "Brooklyn of Nashville.
The 1890s Queen Anne Victoria with wrap-around porch once belonged to a doctor, who practiced medicine out of the home. The building is located in east Nashville, what many refer to as the "Brooklyn of Nashville.
Bryce Urbany
That location was to be Nashville, a city Porter calls "electric."
It took only one weekend of travel in Nashville for Porter to decide that it was going to be the home of the second Urban Cowboy. Yes, the price was right for the long-time New Yorker, but it was the people that sealed the deal.
Porter says that Nashville folks are "really, really present." They're also kind and supportive of the inn.
What began as a "passion project" was evolving into something much larger. And the success, if not guaranteed, was at least a very safe bet.
Owner Lyon Porter points out design elements that create "movement" in Urban Cowboy Nashville.
Owner Lyon Porter points out design elements that create "movement" in Urban Cowboy Nashville.
Bryce Urbany/CNN

Freedom and cowboys

The Urban Cowboy brand is now Porter's and his partner Jersey Banks' whole life, he says; they have plans to open a third location in the United States or maybe even abroad.
Urban Cowboy Japan? It could happen.
"That idea of freedom and cowboys, and kind of really doing what you want and creating your own path in life," was the Urban Cowboy impetus, and it seems especially fitting in Nashville, where cowboy boots are a clothing staple and where people are moving to pursue their creative dreams.
While technically Urban Cowboy Nashville is a boutique hotel (as described on the website), the setting, in a large Victorian mansion (a former doctor's office), is reminiscent of a bed and breakfast.
Just "not your grandmother's bed and breakfast," Porter says warmly, gesturing around the space.
There is, however, food and drink on the premises.
Public House is open to everyone, not just those staying at the hotel -- guests can belly up to the bar, meet Nashville locals and get tips on exploring the thriving city.
Public House is open to everyone, not just those staying at the hotel -- guests can belly up to the bar, meet Nashville locals and get tips on exploring the thriving city.
Bryce Urbany
Guests and locals looking for a cool spot to grab a drink and a bite can head to Public House, the restaurant and bar annex accessible through a separate entrance. On cool nights, a fire pit warms up the outdoor bar space and people linger late into the night sipping craft cocktails and choosing from an changing menu of food-fired treats.
This being the Brooklyn of Nashville, there's also, of course, brunch.
The bar's motto is: "Hot food, cold drinks, good times!" It helps that the space is as beautifully adorned as the interior of Urban Cowboy.
The bar's motto is: "Hot food, cold drinks, good times!" It helps that the space is as beautifully adorned as the interior of Urban Cowboy.
Bryce Urbany

A rock and roll Airbnb hotel

As Porter and I chat in the musical parlor in the old brick house with wraparound porch in the city's more chill East Nashville neighborhood, I have an opportunity to take in the level of detail surrounding us. It's purposeful, not kitchy.
Porter describes the space as a "rock and roll mixture between maybe the coolest Airbnb you've ever stayed in mixed with a boutique hotel."
Porter's reluctance to refer to the space as a B&B seems logical. He is aware of the often-negative connotation of the traditional bed and breakfast where you have "an old couple or an old woman or man kind of running a crotchety old house with dusty doilies," Porter explains.
Urban Cowboy, through Porter's vision, is the opposite of crotchety. You may not wake up to the smell of bacon frying and just-baked bread (supporting players in the classic bed and breakfast experience), but you may stay up past your bedtime to listen to or participate in the magic that Porter says can happen here late at night when the instruments come out to play.
All 25 of the instruments in the musical parlor are in tune. There are numerous guitars, a keyboard, French horns, trombones, a fiddle.
Guests can grab a guitar off the wall and start jamming if the mood strikes.
Guests can grab a guitar off the wall and start jamming if the mood strikes.
Bryce Urbany
Because it is Nashville -- "Music City" -- Porter says that everyone actually plays all the instruments; they are not just for show.
Lynyrd Skynyrd's keyboardist made an appearance once; he played "Sweet Home Alabama" much to the delight of the other guests.
At Urban Cowboy, they "don't take themselves too seriously," and this is apparent through the eccentric, atypical vibe of the space.
The Music Parlor is a common area space where people gather to hang out, drink wine and, well, play music.
The Music Parlor is a common area space where people gather to hang out, drink wine and, well, play music.
Bryce Urbany

The rooms at the inn

Each of the eight rooms is distinct. The only common denominator is the claw-foot tub in each of the bedrooms -- not the bathrooms.
Porter pauses in a suite called "Midnight Rider" to talk about the special tub in the room. It's one of the largest clawfoot tubs Porter had seen when he discovered it. Indeed, it is the roomiest tub I've seen, with space enough for two tall people to lie comfortably.
In this "fun house for adults" there is a lot to take in. Porter says he "leaned into the kind of Victorian idea" of mixing designs, "Oriental fabrics mixed with American ideas mixed with English ones."
The layering of these various looks appeals to Porter, and the final result is a space that has movement.
"Midnight Rider" has a long tub -- big enough for two people -- in the center of the room.
"Midnight Rider" has a long tub -- big enough for two people -- in the center of the room.
Bryce Urbany

It all comes down to the people

Whether it's this movement, the music or the Motorcycle Man sculpture that is a fixture in the suite called "The Lion's Den" that gets couples, bands and bachelorette parties in the doors, what Porter hopes happens at the end of the day is personal connection.
"Our whole thing is you kind of arrive as strangers and leave as friends," he says.
So long as you leave the glitter at home, folks.
Laid-back Urban Cowboy has implemented a "strict no-glitter policy."
Nashville is the top bachelorette party destination in the country, so this is nothing if not an essential rule.
Urban Cowboy, 1603 Woodland St, Nashville, TN, 37206; +1 347 840 0525
The parlor opposite the room full of musical instruments is impeccably decorated.
The parlor opposite the room full of musical instruments is impeccably decorated.
Bryce Urbany