Florence, Ala.—just a four-hour drive from Atlanta and the home of the new GunRunner Boutique Hotel—was never a sleepy little town, but to people who don’t know a lot about this area’s music history, it flew under the radar—until now, that is.
A look inside the luxe Billy Reid Suite
SMALL CITY PERKS In 2017, Florence earned a spot on Southern Living’s “Best Small Towns” list; next, a local businessman debuted GunRunner Boutique Hotel, a 10-suite hotel downtown, last August. The hotel is a first for the town and the entire area known as The Shoals—and it’s capturing the attention of travelers near and far.
ULTIMATE PRIVACY “There was a need in the marketplace [for a boutique hotel], and I felt it was an opportunity to do something unique and create a local atmosphere,” says owner Billy Ray Casteel, who took inspiration for the project from Nashville’s six-room The 404 Hotel. But don’t expect a check-in desk: Designed to give guests a high level of privacy, GunRunner only takes reservations online. You’re then sent a passcode to access your room and can come and go as you please. Jason Isbell, Taylor Hicks and Ronnie Milsap are just a few of the regulars who float through the space uninterrupted—and that’s the whole point.
HISTORICAL FEATURES MEET HAUTE INTERIORS To stay at GunRunner is to immerse yourself in Florence’s rich history. Each of the 10 suites is branded after a local artist, entrepreneur or historic site. Among the options are the Billy Reid suite—with every detail curated by the hometown fashion designer himself, down to the custom headboard and steam shower—the Frank Lloyd Wright suite and the Muscle Shoals Sound suite. Some have 18-foot New Orleans-style balconies overlooking downtown Florence, and all have luxury linens by Peacock Alley and organic bath amenities by local purveyor Reclaimed Spirit.
THE PLACE TO YOURSELF If you can’t decide on one room, bring your family or friends along and opt for the Run of the House package. It includes all 10 suites, plus free reign over the 3,200-square-foot common area, adorned with vintage rugs, a cozy fireplace and guitars signed by some of GunRunner’s famous guests. Learning to strum a few chords in the very town where Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and even 98 Degrees recorded some of their greatest hits? Now that’s going local. Run of the House package from $4,000 per night, 310 E. Tennessee St.
Photography by: GunRunner Boutique Hotel