The Read House Haunted Hotel & a Chattanooga, TN Vacation Itinerary

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Are you looking for a one-tank trip destination that you can take that includes something for everyone? Kidding Around’s Melanie recently traveled to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the hotel she stayed in became the star of the show!

Looking for more travel ideas in Chattanooga? Here’s our Guide to Vacationing With Kids in Chattanooga, TN.

Chattanooga, Tennessee, has been on my list of places to check out for almost as long as I’ve lived in South Carolina. I’m constantly on the lookout for the follow-up to last summer’s discovery of the swimming hole in North Carolina that our readers loved. I’d heard about some awesome swimming holes in Chattanooga and was eager to get up there to explore! So I decided to hop in the car and check out this city just four hours away from the Upstate.

We booked our stay at the Read House Hotel based on the things I look for currently in a hotel. I had no knowledge of the hotel other than the location and its cleaning protocols. Walking into the hotel, I knew I had hit the jackpot. I still hadn’t even scratched the surface of how unique my stay here was going to be. The lobby looked like a room you would find in the Biltmore mansion.

We checked in and I wound up talking for a long time with the front desk clerk and concierge about Chattanooga and our plans for the trip. I even told them about some travel destinations nearby that they hadn’t ever heard of; I love it when that happens! We went up to our room and settled for ordering carry-out from the 24-hour diner across the street. The City Cafe Diner has a huge menu and even bigger slices of cake!

The next morning, after a better night’s sleep than I’ve gotten in a while, I happened to be browsing the hotel website. That’s how I discovered that the Read House was more than just a pretty face. It has a sordid past complete with civil war ghosts, murder, and even a famous (infamous?) gangster! I wish you, the reader, could have seen the look on my face! I texted My Kidding Around Cohorts in excitement and told them I was on a mission to find a ghost! Luckily you don’t need to have special permission to get the VIP tour of The Read Hotel! If staffing permits, they will take you to room 311.

Giddy with excitement, my kids and I boarded the elevator to floor three with our new friend Clay. He was a wealth of knowledge about the hotel. Before the Read hotel was built, there was a Union and Confederate soldier hospital on the property (More on that in a minute). We walked up the third-floor hallway to a door that looked different than the rest. It had a deadbolt on it. Clay unlocked it and offered up the honors to one of us. He told us that the room had been left with all of its original furnishings, down to the wallpaper. I had no idea what to expect and was a bit leery, but I grabbed the doorknob and swung it open. It was beautiful, and nothing like what I expected! Clay asked if I could identify the one item in the entire suite that wasn’t original.

I won’t spoil the mystery for you, but I’ll give you a clue. The item had to be replaced because it was stained with blood!

It was the blood of a young lady named Annalisa who was allegedly discovered by her husband, with someone that was NOT her husband. This is also why the hotel has preserved that room, in its original form, to keep her ghost happy.

Believe it or not, Room 311 at the Read House has seen more than just the murder of an adulterous young lady. In the 1930s the notorious mobster Al Capone requested he be allowed to await trial in room 311 at the Read House. To be permitted, he paid for iron bars to be installed outside the windows. Those bars still protect the room almost 100 years later.

Have I scared you off yet? No? If you are a truly brave soul, you have the opportunity to for just four nights in October to bid on staying in room 311. I must warn you, though, this would be better suited as a girls-night-out type activity. It’s rumored that Annalisa doesn’t particularly care for gentlemen callers. Even less so for those who smoke, and who can blame her for what happened to her! If you think you are brave enough to hang out with Annalisa, call the hotel and get your bid on the books. The bidding starts at $666 for the night. If you aren’t brave enough to lay your head down in that room, it’s ok.

I think the other rooms might have friendlier guests, I mean ghosts, hanging out in them. The desk lamp in our room kept flickering, and I just figured that building was so old, it was probably just the wiring. Imagine my shock when we were told that all the wiring had been replaced just 4 years prior. In the entire building, all of it. I went back to the room and realized it wasn’t just the lamp, it was the power to the desk, and everything plugged into it. Say what you will, but I’m thinking there were four of us in that hotel room.

Aside from all of the historic and haunted stuff, the Read House is a well-appointed hotel that is doing a lot to keep its guests safe and healthy. Given the opportunity, I would go back for a long weekend and just spend the entire time in the hotel. So if you are looking for a great weekend away Itinerary in a city where social distancing is possible, Chattanooga is the place!

Check the offers page on the Read House website before booking, they have some great ways to save money on your trip.

Health and Safety

The Read House has implemented safety guidelines to protect its employees and guests.
Some of the changes include:

  • The suspension of valet parking has been lifted. There are self-parking options with street side and parking garage options. The spaces on the street are metered, however, the meters are free between 6 pm – 8 am. Download the Park Mobile app to pay for parking or even reserve your spot while en route. There is also a parking garage adjacent to the hotel that is $12 a day.
  • The suspension of housekeeping by the hotel during your stay remains, and turndown service is still paused. Clean linens will be dropped off each morning in a clear plastic bag. You can leave trash outside the door to be picked up.
  • For more information on what the state of Tennesee is doing to keep visitors to the Volunteer state safe, check out The Tennesee Pledge.

There were so many things we didn’t get to do in Chattanooga and even in the hotel. The back alley of the hotel has a super Instagramable art installation that we forgot to go check out! I was told there are tons of these art pieces around town, and we totally plan on checking them out on our next visit.

Back to those confederate and union soldiers I mentioned earlier. I was told that people have been known to see a reflection of a soldier while walking by the mirrored walls in the grand ballroom. I tried it and didn’t see anything. Do you think you would see something (or someone) looking back?

The Read House
107 West MLK Boulevard, Chattanooga TN | 423.266.4124

About the Author
Melanie is a native New Yorker, who landed in the Upstate by way of Florida. She is the mom of two awesome kids, and the three of them love going on adventures!

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