About the Men’s Room
at The Hermitage Hotel

It is said that nearly as many women as men visit the Art Deco Men’s Restroom at The Hermitage Hotel. In 2008 it was winner of the “Best Restroom in America” contest sponsored by Cintas Facilities Services and in 2019 we became one of the world’s most Instagramable bathrooms. Countless wedding photos have been taken here and the distinctive green tiles have even set the tone for a holiday card or two.

  • The Hermitage Hotel men's room

Celebrity Encounters and Historic Moments

Allen Jackson once did a photo shoot here. So did Jack White of the White Stripes. The Raconteurs put a restroom group photo of themselves on their 45-record cover in 2006, and even pressed the record using green vinyl. During June 2017 Kathie Lee and Hoda couldn’t resist coming here as a “must see” visit and a live segment of the Today Show was broadcast from the Men’s Restroom. Reese Witherspoon tweeted here. The Dixie Chicks made a stop here once. The Atlanta Braves filmed a Nashville “must see” video for their Chop Nation fans and came here after a visit to Hattie B’s hot chicken place. In 2019 a scene was filmed about the life of Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline, and a scene was shot here, as well as the hotel lobby and grand ballroom.

  • The Hermitage Hotel men's room

Numerous stories have been heard over the years… that John F. Kennedy had his shoes shined here. The famous teamster Jimmy Hoffa held a press conference in the men’s restroom in the early 1960s. Elvis very likely was here – he was a repeat guest of the hotel. Did he bring in his blue suede shoes? Another story is that men used to gamble by pitching quarters against the restroom wall while a lookout was posted near the staircase to the street. In any event, if these walls could talk, they would share some interesting stories! As a footnote to history, during our last major renovation the old shoe-shine stand was removed. Inside was found a half-pint bottle of Kentucky Bourbon!

Nowadays it seems to be in irresistible place for various peeks inside, or for an occasional bridal party group photo. It is a Nashville treasure- a stylish place with a timeless classic feeling from the “big band era.” A soundtrack adds to the ambience, with tunes from the likes of Peggy Lee and Bess Smith.

  • The Hermitage Hotel men's room
Interesting Facts about the Hermitage Hotel

Art Deco Men's Restroom

When the hotel opened in 1910 the term “Art Deco” did not exist but has been appropriately used to describe the current design. Art Deco style began in Paris during the mid-20s. The rest room was originally tiled with small white tiles on the floor and walls. The green and black design was created in the 1930s when reconfigurations were made to accommodate ventilation and plumbing fixtures behind the walls.

The black & green tiles are made of glass. Similar tiles can still be found in various subways around the world. Local craftsman Dennis Harman of Emmanuel Studios did restoration work to some of the tile in 1980 and donated a sample piece to the hotel. We were surprised to find that the black tiles are colored dark purple.

The distinctive terrazzo flooring was also installed in the 1930s. Anyone who visits the vintage Art Deco hotels of Miami Beach today will see may wonderful examples of stylish terrazzo marble floors. Terrazzo flooring was originally invented by Venetian construction workers using marble chips set in colorized clay with goat’s milk as a sealant.

  • The Hermitage Hotel men's room

Were there tunnels? No tunnels into the hotel ever existed (that we have yet proven!) but two doorways from the restroom, now closed up, led to a Men’s exercise room and showers for hotel guests. The doorway outlines are evident on either side of the shoeshine stand. It could be said that The Hermitage Hotel had Nashville’s first hotel fitness center! In addition, a trade journal published in 1909 reported, “The new million dollar hotel under construction in Nashville, The Hermitage, is to have a $25,000 Russian and Turkish bath outfit.” The shoe shine stand was originally had a full time attendant and it stayed busy. During the hotel’s last major renovation, necessary replacement foot rests for the shoe shine were found at a Hollywood movie set supplier.

A barber shop was next door, where the ladies’ room is today. A hotel barbershop operated there from 1913 until 1977. A haircut a shave and a shoe shine was a regular routine for many guests and local Nashvillians, perhaps after lunch in the Grill Room, to the music of the Francis Craig orchestra. There was no ladies room on this level, as the rathskeller (Grill Room) and tap room was primarily a men’s domain, and the main dining room was upstairs (now the grand ballroom). There was a very fancy ladies’ room upstairs at the lobby level that no longer exists. One may see some of the ornate dark green marble floor tile inside one of the business centers today. In fact, there was a separate lady’s entrance from Union Street, and a grand corridor that led to the Ballroom (main dining room in 1910), or to the Loggia (now Veranda), or upstairs to the parlors on the mezzanine level.