Olympia – Jan/Feb 2018
Seaside – Jan/Feb/March 2018

Knoxville’s Oliver Hotel: Historic and Classy

Blonde Bartender behind bar at Knoxville Oliver Hotel We’re welcomed through heavy floor-to-ceiling oak doors and into a small, chic lobby by a smiling, mustached and retro-suited doorman. We’re offered iced lemon water and tea or coffee and fresh fruit. Our room is ready. We’re off to a good start.

Originally built in 1876, The Oliver Hotel has been a bakery, candy counter and soda fountain and a dance hall, as well as a hotel. The property was most recently purchased and renovated in 2011by two younger developers.

Our suite has a separate sitting room with a green velvet sofa, side chair, wet bar, wall and ceiling moldings, a walnut desk and tables. The windows have fabulous outdoor iron work and indoor white wood shutters. The bedroom has the same walnut tables and soft brown paint palette we saw in the lobby.

The Oliver Hotel in downtown Knoxville combines classic with hip.

The Oliver Hotel in downtown Knoxville combines classic with hip.

The over-sized bathroom has a double marble-topped sink. The walk-in shower features white subway tiles and two inch black and white tiles on the floor. There’s a frig hidden in cabinetry, and in-room coffee, tea and bottled water. The total effect is cozy, modern classic.

Great Location, Bookish Bar
The Oliver is located on the corners of Union and Market streets, the very heart of Market Square, one of the downtown core’s most vibrant areas for dining and shopping. Market Square has a great seasonal farmer’s market and hosts other events year-round. It’s an easy walk to anywhere else in downtown as well.

The hotel is located in Market Square, one of the most vibrant areas in the city.

The hotel is located in Market Square, one of the most vibrant areas in the city.

Once we settle in from a long day of sightseeing in Knoxville’s happening downtown, my daughter is happy to sink into the luxurious bed covers and read a book. I’m a bibliophile as well, but turning the pages with a nightcap pairs well, so I head downstairs to the Peter Kern Library. Right next to the front desk, the Library is a cozy, richly appointed Old World enclave. It’s also a very popular spot for hotel guests as well as locals; University of Tennessee students, the downtown work crowd, and the after theater goers. It’s hopping, with all ages represented.

Books indeed line the bookshelves here, but I set aside my book to enjoy the energy and peruse the menu. The menus are as noteworthy as the cocktails. Artfully designed and fashioned from a set of old encyclopedias, the menus are printed on cardstock and attached to volumes of encyclopedias. The bookmark inserted in each lists the appetizers. Talk about a bar for book lovers! For a cocktail, I savor their PKL Signature Old Fashioned with Bulleit Bourbon.

Who wouldn't want to retreat to this sumptuous room?

Who wouldn’t want to retreat to this sumptuous room?

Downtown Knoxville and Tennessee in general has so much to see and do. The Oliver Hotel is Knoxville’s only boutique hotel and we thoroughly enjoy our stay. We highly recommend a stay at the Oliver, whether for business or pleasure. – by Nancy Zaffaro, RFT Contributor, Photos courtesy Oliver Hotel

Nancy Zaffaro with arms crossed


• The Oliver Hotel, 407 Union Avenue,
• The Peter Kern Library,


Want to know more about Knoxville? Read Nancy Zaffaro’s story, “Food Lover’s Guide to Downtown Knoxville.”

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Nancy Zaffaro

Nancy Zaffaro is a travel and food writer based in Portland, Oregon. She enjoys travel, writing, good food and drink (of course!), cooking, yoga, kayaking, and photography. She’s a long-time writer and editor who has had interesting and varied careers in the arts and in business, and is thrilled to be able to travel the world and write about her adventures. Nancy is also the Editor of