You Can Activate a Disco Party With the Flip of a Switch at This Nashville Motel

No longer known solely for its "honky-tonk" vibe, Nashville has been flaunting some haute design over the past few years. Add The Dive Motel & Swim Club to the mix. Open since summer 2019 — from Lyon Porter and Jersey Banks, the brains behind Urban Cowboy in Brooklyn and Nashville — the process into hip-hotel status required a top-to-bottom renovation of a sad, dilapidated old motel.

"It needed a full gut to the studs," says Porter, the hotel's owner and designer. This included expanding the common area by taking out a few guest rooms, building a new pool (the original had been filled in with dirt and tire — not exactly swimmable!), adding vintage wallpaper and wood paneling, and hiring local painters (Meg and Stinky of I Saw the Sign) to hand-paint walls. Bobbi Rich, a former story and field producer for TV shows like American Pickers, helped with sourcing found objects and the motel's ideation.

The thoughtful reboot of this 1956 motel's 23 rooms allowed retro flair to shine — in a good way. "It was built in the heyday of motels and perfectly positioned on the old Dixie Highway. You could take a straight shot to Florida with the family and stop in Nashville on the way, get an affordable room, and take a dip in the pool," he says.

The thematic rooms each have their own retro-kitsch flair. In this room, wood paneling and groovy stripes go full-on 1970s.

The Dive Motel & Swim Club nashville
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credit: Ben Fitchett Photography

In the motel's penthouse, midcentury mod vibes reign with aqua blue fiberglass chairs, perky green carpeting, and sculptural shelving.

The Dive Motel & Swim Club nashville
credit: Ben Fitchett Photography

In this guest room, a kitschy mural and cabin-inspired decor channel the feel of vintage travel postcards.

The Dive Motel & Swim Club nashville
credit: Ben Fitchett Photography

Instagram is practically begging you to make use of this glam, '70s-inspired room, complete with a disco ball, pale-pink shag bedspread, and silhouette motifs on the walls.

The Dive Motel & Swim Club nashville
credit: Ben Fitchett Photography

A custom "party switch" in each room will activate a disco ball and "Dive Radio," which has four channels: Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll, and Sleep.

The Dive Motel & Swim Club nashville
credit: Ben Fitchett Photography

Retro hues like chocolate brown and goldenrod were also incorporated into the pool area.

The Dive Motel & Swim Club nashville
credit: Ben Fitchett Photography

Vinyl avocado-colored chairs, checkerboard floor tile, and an orange Scandinavian-style wood-burning stove dial the motel's bar (called Dive Bar) back to the 1960s and '70s.


Kristine Hansen

Kristine Hansen

Based in Wisconsin, Kristine Hansen covers art, architecture, travel and food/drink, and lives in a 1920s bungalow.