Best Boutique Hotels in Knoxville, Tennessee

12 Cool Boutique Hotels in Knoxville, Tennessee

Nestled in the Tennessee River Valley between the iconic Great Smoky Mountains and the (slightly lesser-known but still spectacular) Cumberland Mountains, Knoxville is a fantastic destination for a getaway. Whether you have a full week or just a quick weekend, you’ll find a bit of everything in this eastern Tennessee city. With its abundant natural beauty, an incredible live music scene, a picture-perfect downtown, diehard sports culture (go Vols!), and legendary Southern hospitality, Knoxville truly has something for everyone. 

The orange all over the city quickly tells you one thing: Knoxville largely centers around the University of Tennessee. It’s also home to Neyland Stadium, the fifth-largest college football stadium in the country. Its capacity? A whopping 102,455 fans. Even if you’re not in town for a Vols game, Knoxville’s widespread spirit is contagious so don’t be surprised if you start getting pumped up as well.

While college life is one huge aspect of Knoxville’s culture, it’s far from the only one. The city’s proximity to the Great Smokies means you’ll find plenty of hiking, mountain biking, paddle sports, and river tubing adventures to keep you busy. 

History has also played an important role in shaping Knoxville. In fact, Tennessee’s third-largest city is named in honor of Henry Knox, the United States’ first Secretary of War. Knoxville was pivotal in legalizing women’s voting rights, and is widely considered the birthplace of both moonshine and NASCAR. The city also has deep roots as an industrial city and in the 1800s  was home to countless textile, lumber, and grain mills, as well as marble quarries. 

Today, all the unique pieces of Knoxville’s history and culture make it an ideal destination for any reason. Come to visit America’s most-visited national park, cheer the Vols on at home, sample authentic moonshine, or just relax and soak up some of that storied Southern charm.

Whatever it is that calls you to Knoxville, you’ll find a wide selection of unique hotels and quaint B&Bs. So many, in fact, that it might be difficult deciding on one. So we’ve created a list of the 12 best hotels in Knoxville to help you plan your perfect getaway!

Where to stay in Knoxville

Where to Stay in Knoxville: Boutique Hotels

Knoxville is a relatively small city, with many of the top restaurants, entertainment options, and hotels concentrated in the downtown area. Staying in a downtown Knoxville hotel is a great choice as it’s a convenient jumping-off point no matter what or where you’re visiting in the city. Having said that, downtown itself is made up of several distinct neighborhoods, each with its own personality and amenities. 

The downtown core is often referred to as Market Square, as everything centers around this open-air, pedestrian-only square. Market Square has everything you could possibly want including shopping, great restaurants and bars, seasonal festivals, and the twice-weekly farmers’ market from May through November. Gay Street is one street away and is lined with the city’s hottest restaurants, cafes, and nightlife hot spots. If you want to be in the heart of everything, choose a Knoxville hotel based on its proximity to this area. 

The University neighborhood is anchored by Cumberland Avenue and is commonly called “The Strip.” While it’s still part of downtown Knoxville, it’s just west of Market Square and situated along the Tennessee River. This area is a vibrant, eclectic mix of historic homes, modern architecture, cafes and breweries, and has a lovely laid-back vibe. 

Other Knoxville neighborhoods of interest include NoKno, about a half-mile north of downtown and SoKno, the part of town on the south side of the Tennessee River. SoKno, in particular, is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, as this is where Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness is located. Here, you’ll find several parks, historic sites, 50+ miles of hiking and biking trails, opportunities for paddling and climbing, and much more — all in the heart of the city.

Regardless of which Knoxville hotel you choose, the city is remarkably easy to get around and parking here is relatively easy. Knoxville even runs a completely FREE trolley downtown from Monday through Saturday all year! That means wherever you end up staying in Knoxville, you’ll always be within minutes of the city’s top landmarks, restaurants, and attractions.

The 12 Best Hotels in Knoxville

1. The Tennessean Hotel

If you’re looking for a luxury hotel in Knoxville, look no further than The Tennessean. This downtown boutique hotel has an authentic Old World vibe, which is appropriate given that it was originally built for the 1982 World’s Fair. Luxurious amenities include a robe and slippers, daily turn-down service, 24-hour front desk staff, a dedicated concierge, and personal butler service available upon request. 

Rooms feature complimentary wifi, in-room coffee, huge bathrooms, marble floors, 24-hour room service, and city views. Some rooms also have unobstructed views of World’s Fair Park and the iconic 266-foot-tall Sunsphere tower. The hotel also boasts a gym and The Drawing Room, the elegant onsite restaurant and bar with a focus on all local and seasonal ingredients.

The Tennessean is tucked just far away enough from downtown to feel quiet and private while still being an easy walk to Market Square. Plus it’s dog-friendly and there are high-powered Tesla chargers onsite for electric vehicles. 

2. The Oliver Hotel

The Oliver is a chic, modern hotel that is highly regarded as a locals’ favorite. It has a rich, fascinating history and offers the type of personalized touches only found at small, boutique properties. Situated in a historic 1876 building that’s been home to a bakery, drugstore, soda fountain, and even a dancing hall, The Oliver embodies Knoxville’s heritage. 

This 28-room boutique hotel overlooks Market Square and is just a five-minute walk to the Knoxville Convention Center. If you want to explore a bit further out, The Oliver has complimentary loaner bicycles for guests. The Oliver has two restaurants and it’s centerpiece, a Prohibition-style speakeasy called Peter Kern Library. Southern Living magazine describes it as “a buzz-worthy watering hole that wins raves from publications ranging from Southern Living to Playboy.” 

All the furniture in the hotel is handcrafted by local artisans and similarly, only custom local artwork is on display. Guests consistently rave about how comfy the beds are in this Knoxville hotel, so don’t be surprised if you hit the snooze button a couple extra times!

3. Hyatt Place Knoxville Downtown

Best Hotels Knoxville, Tennessee: Hyatt Place Knoxville Downtown
Photos: Hyatt Place

Just a block from Market Square, the Hyatt Place Knoxville Downtown hotel is the perfect basecamp for your visit to the city. Walk to nearby boutiques, cafes, breweries, and restaurants, or hop on the Orange Line trolley to the university. 

The hotel was once the famed Hotel Farragut, opened in 1919 and designed to be “completely fire-proof.” A favorite of the storied 1930s New York Yankees (Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig included), the Hyatt Place downtown has a great deal of interesting history. The modern rooms perfectly blend the past and present, with well-preserved historic architecture alongside contemporary decor and furnishings. 

Upscale amenities at this hip, pet-friendly Knoxville hotel include complimentary wifi, free daily breakfast, a 24/7 fitness center with yoga room, an onsite Starbucks, a 24-hour computer and printing center, and a rooftop bar and restaurant. There are also round-the-clock dining options for those early mornings or late night cravings. The Market offers grab-and-go items 24/7, while The Bar is open daily from 6:00 AM to midnight and offers a 24/7 room-service menu outside of those hours. 

4. Hilton Knoxville

Best Knoxville Hotels: Hilton
Photos: Hilton

Considered a jewel of downtown Knoxville, the Hilton rises 18 stories above the city. Market Square is just one block away, and Knoxville’s hottest restaurants, bars, and cafes are within easy walking distance. 

The Hilton Knoxville is classified as a full-service hotel, a designation they take seriously. It’s one of the only hotels in the entire downtown area that features an outdoor pool, a rooftop sundeck, gym, and a Starbucks. For business travelers there’s a business station, same-day dry cleaning, and a skywalk connecting the hotel directly to the convention center. 

All 320 guest rooms feature world-renowned Hilton Serenity Beds so it’s an excellent option for relaxing and recharging. Many rooms also have panoramic views of the city, the Smokies, and the Tennessee River. 

When you want to get some fresh air, borrow a complimentary loaner bicycle or check out the  gorgeous outdoor beer garden and whiskey bar. If you’re into whiskey you’ll be in heaven — the Hilton partnered with George Dickel and has the only hand-selected reserve barrel in the entire state!

5. Graduate Knoxville

With a name like Graduate Knoxville, it should come as no surprise that this Knoxville hotel is centered wholly around the university. This ultra-hip, super colorful hotel is decked out in UT orange and various Vols nostalgia, all with an added dose of cheekiness. 

The hotel front desk is a small-scale Vols Navy boat, while the room keys are replica student IDs of legendary UT athletes including Peyton Manning and Tamika Catchings. In the bathrooms, custom-designed wallpaper features Smokey, the bluetick coonhound who has long been the university’s mascot. And hanging in every one of the 112 guestrooms is a framed picture of Manning and then-coach Phillip Fulmer, each wearing cowboy hats. 

Aside from the spirited decor, Graduate Knoxville has excellent amenities. Enjoy complimentary wifi, a 24-hour gym with Peloton bikes, an onsite cafe, and a high-end western saloon designed in partnership with Peyton Manning. And you can bring your pup because this cool Knoxville hotel is pet-friendly!

Finally, the hotel has a phenomenal location. Situated right on The Strip, it’s a two minute walk from campus (of course!) and just a 10-minute walk from the stadium. 

6. Cumberland House Knoxville, Tapestry Collection by Hilton

The Cumberland House Knoxville was completely renovated in 2020 both inside and out, and is now one of the hippest hotels in the city. It’s in the heart of downtown and within easy walking distance to UT, the convention center, and Market Square. The hotel manages to pay homage to the city’s history, and specifically the textile industry. You’ll find a large weaving loom in the lobby, a wall of antique sewing machines, and the symbolic button integrated into design elements. 

Keeping with the theme, one of the hotel’s new centerpieces is a vintage marquee sign. Once you enter, you’ll immediately notice that the reception desk is also a bar and is the center of the hotel’s social activity. This Knoxville hotel is fun indeed. 

The Cumberland House features a modern Appalachian-themed restaurant, bar, and coffee shop. There’s a state-of-the-art fitness center and they offer complimentary bicycles if you’d like to get out and explore. 

If you’re traveling with a dog, you couldn’t ask for a more dog-friendly Knoxville hotel. You’ll find a dog bed and locally-made treat waiting in your room, plus a map of local dog-friendly attractions.

7. Embassy Suites by Hilton Knoxville Downtown

Embassy Suites is one of the biggest household names in the hotel world, and this one in downtown Knoxville packs a tremendous punch. This hotel features a rooftop pool and bar (the tallest one in eastern Tennessee, in fact), a TopGolf Swing Suite, and complimentary breakfast each morning. 

This 176-room, all-suite Knoxville hotel is housed in a historic bank building and is brand new as of late 2019. It’s located downtown and within a few minutes’ walk to countless restaurants, bars, and entertainment options, not to mention the university and convention center. Depending on which side of the hotel your room is on, expect expansive views of downtown, the Smokies, or the Tennessee River. 

Guest rooms are spacious and there are even Fitness Rooms which are extra-large suites with fitness equipment and TVs with guided fitness programming. But you won’t want to spend much time in your room because there’s just too much to do!

Aside from enjoying the TopGolf Swing Suite or complimentary evening reception at the rooftop pool and bar, there’s an excellent restaurant, gym, spa, coffee bar, business center, and  a grab-and-go market where you can even fill up your own growlers of beer!

8. Crowne Plaza Hotel Knoxville Downtown University

You can count on Crowne Plaza hotels to be consistently nice and upscale and this Knoxville hotel is no exception. It manages to distinguish itself with an unbeatable downtown location, outstanding customer service, and the fact that it was fully renovated just a few years ago. Nearly all the recent reviews gush over the above-and-beyond guest services. 

The Crowne Plaza overlooks Market Square and is situated within easy walking distance of Gay Street’s best restaurants. The free Knoxville trolley stops just outside the hotel, making this an ideal jumping off point for exploring the city. And don’t worry about parking, the hotel has a convenient parking garage.

This dog-friendly hotel also features a heated indoor lap pool, a restaurant and lounge, and a rather impressive 3,000-square-foot fitness center that’s open 24 hours a day. Guest rooms have sweeping city views and include thoughtful amenities such as aromatherapy relaxation kits and in-room refrigerators. 

9. Courtyard by Marriott Knoxville Downtown

If you want to stay in the heart of downtown Knoxville but could do without the hustle and bustle that comes along with it, check out the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel. It’s just a short six-minute walk to Market Square, but it isn’t located directly on Gay Street so you’ll appreciate the peace and quiet. It’s an urban oasis, if you will. 

This well-appointed Knoxville hotel is only a few years old and everything is furnished in a sleek, contemporary style with bold accent colors and artwork. Rooms include complimentary wifi, spacious work stations, custom plush bedding, walk-in showers, and in-room coffee. Several also have a pull out sofa bed for additional sleeping options. 

Enjoy the convenience of onsite garage self-parking, a 24-hour fitness center, coin-operated laundry facilities, and a bistro that serves up food and cocktails. There’s also an impressively well-stocked convenience store in the lobby, so there’s no need to stress if you forgot to pack something or if you’re craving a late-night snack.

10. Hampton Inn & Suites Knoxville Downtown

Best Knoxville Hotels: Hampton Inn and Suites
Photos: Hampton Inn & Suites

The Hampton Inn & Suites is another great Knoxville hotel option for people who want to stay downtown but prefer to be ever so slightly removed. While the Hampton Inn & Suites is technically the “farthest” downtown hotel from Market Square, it’s only an eight-minute walk. It’s also directly across from the convention center and very close to UT, making it an excellent pick all-around.

Inside the Hampton Inn you’ll find a long list of amenities including an indoor pool that’s open year-round, a gym, a business center, and free laundry facilities. The complimentary daily hot breakfast buffet is excellent and includes eggs, protein, make-your-own waffles, and much more. 

There’s no-hassle self-parking onsite (a tremendous perk!), plus a grab-and-go convenience store where you’ll find everything from toiletries to pints of ice cream.

11. Tru by Hilton Knoxville North I-75

Are you visiting Knoxville but don’t necessarily want to stay downtown? Consider staying in a north Knoxville hotel! The Tru by Hilton is just off I-75 and still within 10-15 minutes of Knoxville’s best attractions including the university, Neyland Stadium, and the Knoxville Zoo. 

Hilton’s Tru brand uses the words “young at heart,” “vibrant,” “energetic,” and “unexpected” in its mission statement, and the hotel embodies all of them. You see it as soon as you arrive, with the bright yellow and blue exterior and colorful, cheeky details everywhere you turn. For example, the complimentary hot breakfast bar centers around toppings — toppings for cereal, for pancakes, for oatmeal, and for French toast. 

Breakfast is just the beginning of the complimentary amenities at this Knoxville hotel. You’ll enjoy free parking, an indoor pool, a 24-hour gym and business center, and a lobby stocked with games including a pool table, foosball, and a life-sized Connect 4. There’s also a 24-hour grab-and-go market with everything from snacks to essentials. Finally, Tru by Hilton is pet-friendly, so bring Fido along for the fun!

12. Blackberry Farm

Knoxville Boutique Hotels: Blackberry Farm
Photos by Beall + Thomas Photography

It’s worth driving a bit out of town to be treated to a luxurious and one-of-a-kind Knoxville hotel experience. Technically in Walland, about 30 minutes from downtown Knoxville, Blackberry Farm is situated on a 4,200-acre estate at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains.

The views are astounding, of course, and the accommodations are equally impressive. As a Relais & Chateaux property, Blackberry Farm offers plush and unique guest rooms, suites, and private cottages. Amenities include top-of-the-line bed and bath linens, sweeping mountain views, and plush robes and slippers. Many rooms also have whirlpool tubs and wood-burning fireplaces. 

As comfortable as the rooms at Blackberry Farms are, the property is designed to get you outside. Onsite activities include horseback riding, hiking, fly fishing, archery, mountain biking, paintball, and more. And if you’re looking for something more low-key, check out the full range of treatments at Wellhouse Spa.

Finally, Blackberry Farm bills itself as “a countryside inn for gourmands” (gourmands means “connoisseur of good food”), so you can count on food being a central part of your experience. There are three restaurants on the property, and the inn frequently holds cooking demonstrations and wine pairing classes.

That’s it – 12 of the best Knoxville hotels! Did we miss any cool boutique hotels in Knoxville? Comment below so we can add them to the list!

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  • Nick Wheatley

    Nick took his first solo trip abroad to Ireland and Scotland when he was just 19. Since then he has visited over 70 countries around the world (plus 45 states in the USA).

    He coupled his passion for travel photography with Val’s passion for writing and thus Wandering Wheatleys was born. He now lives in Asheville with his two rambunctious kids, Humphrey and Wilhelminha.

    Besides photography, Nick loves eating the weirdest food he can find in a country (sheep’s brain currently sits in first place) and making Val get up an hour before sunrise to make sure he gets “the good light”.

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1 thought on “12 Cool Boutique Hotels in Knoxville, Tennessee”

  1. You nailed it Nick. Great article highlighting Knoxville’s proximity to the Smokies and the Cumberland Mtns. Including Blackberry Farm was another nice touch. We have several restaurants downtown that were opened by former Blackberry chefs as well with more than 20 breweries. Unfortunately our local tourist bureau doesn’t promote how close we are to the Smokies (only 30 to 45 min). Using downtown Knoxville as home base while hiking in the Smokies and Cumberlands, as well as mountain biking in the Urban Wilderness is ideal. Thanks again for the spot-on article.

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