North of the city, the Grove Park Inn sits encrusted like a gem on Sunset Mountain. Built before the first World War by a pharmaceutical magnate from West Tennessee, the Inn is more oasis than historical monument. As you walk from the parking area, you’ll see vehicles unload all sorts of guests in the valet area. While the porch and entrance are not air-conditioned, the cold stone and high ceilings of the main lobby (not to mention the cross breeze from open door to the terrace) allow for the air to be rather comfortable. This atrium boasts enormously high ceilings and dual-facing fireplaces with opening approximately six feet high by 15 feet wide.
Through the terrace doors, you can eat on the patio at the restaurant, or walk down the stairs to the other terraces to see more of the view. The stone that makes up the original part of the inn continues down the terraces (wedding often take place on these, two were being set up when we visited), and follows the waterfall all the way to the foot of the Spa. At this level, you can clearly see the two wings which were later added to the original building.
The spa is cool and grotto-like, if you go forward you must have an appointment with the spa. A gift shop is next to the front desk, with all sorts of spa goodies. Off to the left is a dark passageway of stone that passes rooms with names like “Rosemary”, “Frankincense”, and “Juniper”. The corridor from the spa officially ends and you may choose to exit via a door to the golf course or you may turn a corner and head back through a wing of the inn. Keep in mind that the spa is a huge attraction for the hotel, which is why the indoor/outdoor pools and fitness areas are only accessed through the spa. A inn guest day pass for these are approximately $55-80, or free on the day you have a scheduled spa treatment.
Back in the lobby, you have the option to veer off to the right or the left; both will take you to an assortment of shops, even a deli. The halls are decorated with memorabilia dating back to the original opening, as well as pictures of celebrities, government officials and heads of state who have visited the property. Part of the hotel has a conference-like feel, and rightly so, because the Inn is often used for conventions.
Heading back to your vehicle, drive to the right down a winding road that loops around the sports complex and directs you toward the Grovewood art gallery and antique car museum. Sitting atop a hill next to the hotel and above the right lawn, the gallery features a variety of art mediums both in the shops and studio, as well as outside in the small garden that leads to the lawn. Metal sculptures blend into the natural landscape and provide an amusing view. Next door, car enthusiasts will get an eyeful of antique cars and carriages ranging from the early 1900s to the 1950s.
As you leave the property, the road will guide you toward the other side of the golf course, so that you have full view of the expansive property as you head into town.
*FYI : You will be walking a decent amount. A portion of the Inn inside is wheelchair accessible, including the spa since it can be accessed from the lowest level of the Inn. However, outside access to the handicap is limited.