The Read House is the longest continuously operating hotel in the southeast and holds a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel has gone through several renovations throughout the years; it retains all of the old-world glamor (the lobby and bar area have a 1920s glam theme) with none of the “really old hotel” vibes.
From a valet tipping his bowler hat to guests as they enter the lobby to comfort and amenities throughout your stay, the Read House is a historic hotel offering an immersive experience from check-in to check-out and the perfect base camp for exploring Chattanooga.
And, there's a ghost. Unlike a lot of haunted hotels, the Read House Hotel's ghost doesn't consume the entire personality of the hotel. Whether you're there for the haunts or just want a posh place to stay in downtown Chattanooga, the Read House will likely check the box.
More about the Read House Hotel
While the gleaming marble and gilt accents in the lobby may suggest a strong adults-only theme, this hotel is for everyone, from families to couples or other adult-only groups. Certain rooms in the Read House are small pet friendly.
It's also ghost-friendly. Room 311 is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of Annalisa Netherly, which accounts for the hotel's popularity during spooky season. Aside from the alleged haunting, it's a lovely, upscale hotel and it's quite possible to have a peaceful stay and steer clear of any spirits since the haunting is conveniently limited to one room. There's nothing like a considerate ghost with boundaries, right?
The ghost of Annalisa Neverly is believed to haunt room 311, where she was allegedly beheaded by a jealous lover in the room’s bathtub in 1927. The term allegedly is used because the whodunit part is a mystery – Netherly did die a bloody death and was found in the bathtub of room 311 but that's about all we know. Netherly's background is a mystery and there's no record of anyone being held accountable for her death.
Guests over the years have reported paranormal activity in the room, including unexplained noises, flickering lights, running water, and more. Several male guests have reported being pinched and shoved, which may suggest the room’s ghost has an axe to grind with men.
The only room in Read House with a physical key
During the Read House’s most recent renovation, the room was restored to its original 1920s state. This is the only door in the hotel that opens with a physical key. Amenities include a clawfoot tub, an AM radio, and linens that reflect what would have been in a hotel room at the time of Netherly's demise.
The room was restored to give Annalisa Netherly some peace in comfortable, familiar surroundings. Other than the October bookings and the odd guest coming in for a quick look-see, Annalisa is left to her own ghostly devices.
Stay in Room 311 in October – If you dare
Room 311 is available for rent on Saturday nights in October and on Halloween night. According to Jim Bambrey, Read House Hotel General Manager, the October reservations sell out within five minutes after being open to the public. Bambrey estimates roughly half the October guests don’t last the night.
Anyone can tour Room 311. Inquire at the desk about the guided tour availability, and if staff is available to give you a look, you can go in and take pictures. The hotel is also a stop on Chattanooga Ghost Tours, although the basic, standard tour doesn't go inside any of Chattanooga's (maybe?) haunted buildings.
Convenient Downtown Chattanooga Location
I thought the Read House was very conveniently located, and it was near everything I wanted to do while I was in town. There’s no free parking in downtown Chattanooga during the day (some of the lots and street meters don’t charge to park after six p.m.), but I was able to find plenty of paid parking when I needed it. The city is easy to navigate on foot, and if you’re up for walking a mile or so, you can see a great deal of the city.
Don't feel like walking? There’s an electric shuttle that runs through downtown and stops right across the street from the hotel. Go out the side entrance where the restaurants are and you’ll see the shuttle stop. The shuttles are clean and convenient if you’re flexible on time, but overall, I found the wait time longer than what was posted. If you’re not in a hurry, a free ride is a free ride.
The elegant lobby sets the tone for your Read House experience. Marble floors, the hotel’s original crystal chandeliers, and plush 1920s-style furniture make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The uniforms of the hotel personnel stay true to the period. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen hotel housekeeping with a knee-length black dress with a ruffled apron. Every little detail adds to the feeling of another time.
Off the lobby is a library stocked with books, gaming tables, and places to sit and people-watch. If you walk straight through the lobby, you’ll go into the newer section of the hotel, where the small fitness center and indoor pool are located.
If you go left, you’ll be in the bar and billiards area with adjacent meeting rooms, and if you go right, you’ll hit the elevators to the historic tower rooms and the restaurant and coffee shop areas. The public areas are available for anyone to come to explore.
The Read House has 241 guest rooms and suites divided between the Historic Tower, which is the original hotel building, and the newer Manor House. While you can tell what’s newer while viewing the building from the exterior, the interior transitions are seamless.
The Manor House rooms are slightly less expensive than the Historic Tower rooms. They’re still very nice and comfortable, with the same level of amenities and services but the Art Deco theming is stronger in the tower.
Available room types include Executive King Suite, Premier King, Premier Double Queen, and Premier Queen. Accessible rooms are also available.
The premier rooms have more floor space and larger, black and white marble tiled bathrooms.
Available room types include Deluxe King, Deluxe Double Queen, Traditional King, and Traditional Queen. Accessible rooms are also available.
The deluxe rooms have more floor space and modern, clean decor.
The Read House Offers the Following Room Amenities:
- Complimentary wifi
- Keurig coffee makers + Tea and Coffee
- Room Service (an extra charge applies, the menu is in-room.)
- Bath amenities (shampoo, conditioner, soap/body wash)
- Mini fridge
- Ceramic coffee/tea mugs and crystal water glasses
- Full heating and air conditioning
My trip to Chattanooga was working travel, and I made use of the free wifi at the hotel. I was very pleased with the speed and stability of the connection.
The hotel offers valet parking for $24 per day, which doesn’t include tipping the valet. There’s no dedicated free self-parking, although there are parking lots and garages throughout downtown.
Premier King Corner Room
I stayed in a Premier King Corner Room on the eighth floor. The room had three windows and a small table with two chairs if I wanted to eat or work in my room. It also had a small upholstered chair and a bench at the foot of the king bed.
The bed, linens, and pillows were comfortable, and I enjoyed the clean, elegant decor. Since the room was a corner, I had extra floor space. The feeling of openness was nice, but I didn’t need all that room. There was a large bathroom with a long vanity and a lighted magnifying mirror. The room had a tiled walk-in shower, and no tub, which I’m finding is becoming standard with most hotel rooms these days unless they’re older or at the highest level of luxury.
Dining and Bar
Although the convenient downtown location of the Read House will make you want to get out and explore, there are dining options inside the hotel, too. All dining is open to non-hotel guests.
Bridgeman’s Chop House
Bridgeman’s Chop House is the hotel’s premier on-site restaurant. The sophisticated setting – think dark wood walls, elegant white tablecloths, and waitstaff in dapper uniforms – sets the tone for a “treat yourself” style meal.
The menu includes a selection of raw and chilled seafood, wet and dry-aged steaks, and other specialty dishes such as lamb, veal, and seafood. If you’re in the mood for dessert or an indulgent after-dinner drink, Bridgeman’s won’t let you down there. There is also an extensive wine list and a full bar. Bridgeman’s Chop House is open for dinner only. Reservations recommended.
Bar and Billiards
The Read House’s speakeasy-style bar sits just off the lobby and serves lunch and dinner. Like all good speakeasies, the billiard table is tucked in the back behind pocket doors. The billiard room is adults-only in the evenings.
The food menu has a variety of sandwiches, salads, and small plates to satisfy your hunger. There’s a full bar and a cocktail menu with creatively named 1920s-inspired cocktails, such as The Death of Annalisa, named for room 311’s famous guest who never checked out.
If you need your daily java fix before heading out to explore Chattanooga, your favorite coffee chain is onsite. If locally owned is more your thing, Sleepyhead Coffee and Dawn are within easy walking distance.
So…Did I See the Ghost?
I'm a bit of a scaredy cat and I didn't fully realize the hotel's haunted history until I arrived in Chattanooga. If I had known, I probably would have picked another hotel. Spending the night in a haunted hotel on a solo trip would not have been my first choice but I came away unscathed.
I didn't see or hear anything ghostly but I'll confess to getting a case of the heebie jeebies on my last night. I took a tour of room 311 on my last evening in Chattanooga, and while I didn't experience anything out of the ordinary, I did have a sleepless night wondering if Annalisa really only stuck to the confines of room 311. Aside from the spooky history, it's a wonderfully appointed hotel in a prime Chattanooga location and I'd stay here again.
Just maybe not by myself.
Other Area Hotels
- The Westin Chattanooga
- Chattanooga Choo Choo
- The Edwin Hotel
- The Chattanoogan Hotel
- Doubletree by Hilton Downtown Chattanooga