The goal of a Kinley hotel is to reflect the aesthetic and the energy of the neighborhood in which it resides. The name Kinley is derived from “kinship,” meaning that the guest is welcomed into relationship with the city’s art, entertainment, and history by design. General Manager Michael DiMaria said earlier this year that Kinley Chattanooga Southside was meant to be “the living room of the neighborhood” – and this hotel has mastered being modern and sophisticated without losing its sense of comfort.
If you enter the building from Market Street, rather than from valet, you will find a pastry and coffee bar that turns into a cocktail bar come evening. This is The Exchange. Here, natural light highlights the contrast between the white speckled quartz mounted to the front of the bar and the deep brown wood tones in the paneling between the liquor shelves on the wall. Edison bulbs hang from the ceiling, passing through suspended black iron grids. On the wall is a 6-by-11-foot weaving by Anna Carll, a representation of Kinley’s commitment to feature works of art created by local female artists. Titled The Magnolia Story, it’s an abstract image of magnolia pods that have dropped from a tree, made from acrylics, alcohol inks, and Irish linen waxed thread on watercolor paper. The colors in the piece pack a punch amid the earth tones in the space.
Move beyond The Exchange on the main level, and you’ll find another seating area near the guest services desk. By the elevators, a giant paper scroll hand-drawn by Brand Ambassador Rachel Badillo updates guests on drink specials, local attractions, and hours for Company, the speakeasy on-site hidden behind a bookshelf that doubles as a door. Here, the walls are a deep, jewel-toned teal. Tucked into the storage cubes around the window seating are ceramics, a few board games, and books on photography, poetry, architecture, and wine: A Landscape Manifesto. National Geographic Image Collection. Fired with Passion: Contemporary Japanese Ceramics. Washington: Wild and Beautiful. The space is also rich in greenery. A specialist comes in weekly to care for the potted devil’s ivy, snake plant, and corn plant.
One way Kinley Chattanooga Southside reflects the neighborhood is its mastery of food and drink. About half of its dining traffic is local, as the menu is one of Kinley’s biggest draws. There are 10 different offerings for breakfast alone, including the Kinley Benedict, Slow Roasted Beef Hash, 1409 Pancakes, and Southern Poutine. The coffee menu is extensive: batch brew, cold brew, cappuccino, Americano, chai tea lattes, mochas, cafe au lait, cortado, hot chocolate, and a milk steamer. Later in the day, Badillo says, the Market St. Burger rivals the burger at nearby celebrated butcher shop and cafe Main Street Meats. The bacon-wrapped dates are stuffed with buttermilk blue cheese. The beers on draft are made in Tennessee. On the cocktail menu, The Southside features Gate 11 gin made at a microdistillery across the street, mint cordial, lime, and bitters. The Gold Rush is a Rittenhouse rye with triple honey syrup and lemon. The Grasshopper is a cognac with amari, creme de cacao, creme de menthe, and cream served up with shaved dark chocolate.
Badillo says Kinley prides itself on three areas of excellence. Food and drink is one. That’s likely why 50% of Kinley bookings are locals on a staycation. The other two areas are guest services and immaculately clean rooms. Depending on your Marriott status, you may hear from Badillo in a private email before your stay, asking about your goals for your time in Chattanooga and whether you’re celebrating a special occasion. She also personally makes sure you feel confident that you are making the most of your time in town, whether you’re here for family, business, nightlife, or romance. She provides a watercolor map of the Southside (from Martin Luther King Boulevard to First Tennessee Pavilion) and recommends three districts based on your areas of interest. Move from Southside toward the river, and you’re downtown – think Tennessee Aquarium, Creative Discovery Museum, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball, High Point Climbing & Fitness. Continue over the river via the Walnut Street Bridge (walking) or Market Street Bridge (driving), and you’re in Northshore.
In the guest rooms upstairs, the bedding is a stark white. The mattresses are custom-designed. Over the headboard are three framed Nooga-centric pieces of art by local illustrator and mixed media artist Hollie Chastain. A combination of vintage magazine clippings and gouache painting, each image highlights the drama in Chattanooga area mountains and streams. The Executive King room has a wall of windows that overlooks Market Street, plus blackout curtains and a desk in a soft, mint green. The Queen Bunk room makes playful use of the space with its queen-over-queen set-up, reading lamps affixed to the wall over each bed, and double televisions. On the second and fourth floors, the Market Street Suite is about twice the size of the other rooms (with twice the windows and twice the Market Street views) and can be reserved alongside with the Quad Twin Bunk Room a few steps away. Framed in gray wood and black rod iron, each bunk includes a pink, scalloped-edge curtain for privacy. For families or private parties, these rooms are connected by a small hall for convenience.
At 64 rooms, Kinley Chattanooga Southside’s primary tagline is #ComeAsYouAre. It’s an invitation to be yourself, to be comfortable, to feel at home. There are robes hanging in each guest room. The Artist in Residence program invites you to sit down with the artists who created the pieces on-site for a casual Q&A in The Exchange. The place is cozy, but with modern touches: circular, black-trimmed mirrors over the bathroom sinks; globe chandeliers over the beds; exposed brick walls in muted tones by the entrance downstairs. “Come as you are,” it seems, is also an invitation to Chattanooga. After all, Kinley is simply an extension of the Southside neighborhood. Southside offers history in The Chattanooga Choo Choo, which opened its Terminal Station in 1909 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. It offers rocking chairs, bocce ball, and life-sized checkers at Glenn Miller Gardens, which used to serve as seven platforms of the train station years ago. Station Street will bring you live music, dancing, bowling, bars, and stand-up comedy. Just outside the Kinley front door, this is Chattanooga. The hotel experience should connect you to others, and it should connect you to the community you came to visit, according to Vision Hospitality Group CEO Mitch Patel.
And as far as Kinley is concerned, you’re all invited.