Before we get into our list ranking the best hotels in Gatlinburg, I want to share my favorite Gatlinburg hotel memory.
It was the 90s and my step-grandparents had driven down from Northern Indiana for a visit.
My dad and step-mom picked up my brother and me and we made our way from Townsend to their hotel in the mountain above Gatlinburg.
It was a long car ride and Jordan – who was 7 or 8 at the time – bounded out of the car to the hotel room. We’d only met Bob and Mary a few times at this point, but Jordan was excited.
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He raced up to the door and then over to the big glass window. The curtains were open to let the sun pour through.
The timing was impeccable as he locked eyes with grandpa Bob, fresh from the shower and grasping a strategically placed towel.
Terror abounded on either side of the glass as Jordan jumped in astonishment and sprinted away from the window. Meanwhile, grandpa Bob raced back to the bathroom while clinging to the hotel towel wrapped around his waist for dear life.
It was a very awkward greeting that followed.
Should you stay in a Gatlinburg hotel?
Not surprisingly, there are a lot of great options for staying in Gatlinburg.
My favorites are along the River Road where the hotels face the river and back into the side of the mountain. They’re close to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and an easy walk over to downtown Gatlinburg.
We like staying there, especially in the fall. We can enjoy the foliage and walk over to enjoy breakfast at the Pancake Pantry. It’s a perfect location.
Some prefer going higher up in the mountains with more majestic views or staying somewhere closer to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Yet others may prefer being right in the thick of things on the strip or down in the more old-fashioned hotels along the river as you’re heading out of town towards Pigeon Forge.
There’s even a handful of the old-style mom and pop hotels that used to dominate the industry back when Gatlinburg was first booming as a tourist town in the 50s and 60s.
Does Gatlinburg have any luxury hotels?
In the traditional sense of the word, many of the Gatlinburg hotels would likely not qualify as luxury hotels. Particularly when compared to some of the places in New York or London or even Atlanta. Luxuries in the mountains are different things I suppose.
Still, there are quite a few really nice hotels. So unless your hotel standards are of the several thousand dollars per night variety, you should be able to find plenty of quality accommodation in the best hotels in town.
What kind of amenities will I find in a Gatlinburg hotel?
The first amenity is simple. Location. You’ll get proximity to the area’s attractions and to the Smokies, or the entrance to the park.
You’ll see some of the best views in Tennessee from private balconies overlooking a babbling creek or the mountains.
After that, the amenities are pretty standard but will vary slightly from location to location.
You will find your basics like:
- indoor pool
- flat-screen TVs
- free parking – that’s a biggie in Gatlinburg
- free wifi
- seasonal outdoor pool
- fitness center
- outdoor playground
- on-site restaurant
- fridge and microwave
- business center
Some of the nicer places will have a full-service spa so you can enjoy the height of relaxation without leaving the facility.
What are the best hotels in Gatlinburg?
I thought you’d never ask. First a programming note.
We are limiting this list to hotels and motels. Condos, bed and breakfasts, private homes, cabins or lodge rentals are not being considered for this list.
Also, this is a Gatlinburg list. Pigeon Forge is right out.
Without further ado, here we go.
13. Super 8 by Wyndham, downtown Gatlinburg
Located on Historic Nature Trail Road, it’s an easy walk to the Gatlinburg Space Needle and the Gatlinburg Convention Center.
It’s also a great launching point if you want to explore the hiking trails and historic sites along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.
With a 6.1 rating on the travel website Booking.com, it’s clean, pleasant and affordable. We priced a six-night stay at the end of March at $596 for a couple. Breakfast is included in your booking.
12. Howard Johnson by Wyndham, downtown Gatlinburg
Located behind Fannie Farkles and an easy walk to The Village shoppes and the Pancake Pantry, this HoJo has some cool lodge theming, a parking lot fire pit and a pool.
It’s rated at a good 7.9 by the travel website Booking.com. And we priced it at $764 for a six-night stay at the end of March 2023.
11. SureStay Plus Hotel by Best Western, Gatlinburg
This hotel is unlike any Best Western I’ve ever seen. It is, in fact, a modern-designed box building on Ski Mountain Road, a couple of blocks from the intersection with the Parkway right at the entrance to the national park.
With a rating of 7.5 on Booking.com, this facility is a good place to stage forays into the park or explore places like the upper part of the strip or even Ober Mountain – the attraction formerly known as Ober Gatlinburg.
At $543 for six nights over the last week of March, this is one of the more affordable options in town. And a good option at that.
10. River Terrace Resort
Located right next to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, this is one of the first places we target when booking a Gatlinburg getaway. You just can’t beat the location.
The hotel has a rating of good at 7.5 on Booking.com. We priced it at about $900 for the last week of March.
9. Baymont by Wyndham on the River, Gatlinburg
Located off the main drag and up Highway 321, towards Pigeon Forge, this classic hotel with spectacular balconies overlooking the creek below is a great option if you’re willing to do a little more walking to get downtown.
There’s a strip of hotels along the creek in this part of Gatlinburg that have been there for as long as I can remember. There’s a bit of tradition in staying here even if you give up a little in terms of proximity to the action.
Rated a very good 8.0 on Booking.com, we priced a stay for the last week of March at $944.
8. Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort
Located right at the entrance to Gatlinburg on Highway 321, the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort is a vacation destination all by itself.
For example, it is home to Wild Bear Falls, a world-class, mountain-themed, heated indoor Gatlinburg water park for families of all ages. It also has an onsite spa and fitness center for after you hurt your back at the water park.
The facility does not have a Booking.com rating, and we could not get its official website to load pricing for the last week in March.
Admission to the park is not included with the reservation or room rate for most guests though there are some special promotions that include water park tickets.
7. The Park Vista
A DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel – Gatlinburg, I’m going to be honest. I want to dock the hotel points for the name alone. Is it Park Vista? Or is it a DoubleTree? Is it a Hilton Hotel? Apparently, it’s all of these things. But it’s still pretty cool.
In fact, the interior reminds me a bit of the spacy Atlanta Marriott Marquis – which served as the location of Time Variance Authority in the Disney+ Loki series – though certainly not as tall.
Located right at the entrance to the national park, this hotel is just kind of cool and stands out from the crowd of other local hotels.
The pool area is exceptional and the views from this multi-story hotel match.
The Vista Grill offers southern-inspired cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Guests can enjoy drinks and appetizers at Firefly’s Patio Lounge.
Rated a very good 8.3 on Booking.com, we could only find a family suite available for the last week of March. For the previous week, a king room with two king beds was $1,100 for a party of four.
6. Courtyard by Marriott, downtown Gatlinburg
Located on the Historic Nature Trail, this is a nice hotel within comfortable walking distance of the convention center and the Space Needle.
This is also a perfect hotel if you want to spend some time in your hotel. It has a fire pit and hot tub. It’s a great place to hang out after a day of walking up and down the strip or hiking in the mountains.
Rated an excellent 8.6 on Booking.com, the Courtyard comes in at $1,200 for the last week of March 2023. We should note that most of the prices we’ve quoted are for two people and go up slightly if you add more.
The Courtyard price is for three people in a room.
5. Gatlinburg Inn
This historic inn is possibly the best-located hotel on the strip.
It’s also the site where Tennessee’s “Rocky Top” was originally penned.
The guest rooms are rustic in décor and there’s a variety of suites. The only downside is the lack of private balconies, but in this location, the views aren’t really conducive anyway.
4. Hilton Garden Inn, Gatlinburg
Located on the upper side of River Road, this second of two Hilton Hotels on our list offers an excellent location, less than 300 feet from the entrance to the national park.
The Great American Grill at the hotel serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Pavilion Lounge is also featured at the hotel.
Rated as an excellent 8.6 on Booking.com, all of the rooms have private balconies. For the same week in March, we priced Hilton Hotel – Gatlinburg at $1,237 but you do get free parking (very valuable) and free Wi-fi (not as much).
3. Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg
If I’m being fair, this may well be the best resort in Gatlinburg. It has a stellar 9.4 rating on Booking.com. However, I’m not in love with the location.
It’s down in a hole at the end of the strip below Ripley’s Aquarium. It’s not the worst spot for walking downtown, but it’s not the best.
Also, in my experience, Jimmy Buffet fans tend to overrate somewhat the Margaritaville experience wherever they go. It is, however, possible that I’m being picky. This is a fun resort with a cool pool and an on-site resort as well as an onsite restaurant and bar. I guess what I’m saying is you could do worse.
2. Edgewater Hotel and Conference Center
Located on the lower side of River Road, the Edgewater is the right combination of a good place to stay. For example, it offers a great location and affordability, coming in at $878 for the same week we priced the other hotels.
It’s an easy walk to downtown and Ripley’s from the hotel which has two swimming pools. The private balconies on the backside of the hotel are surprisingly quiet and a great place to relax with your morning coffee.
Rated a very good 8.1 on Booking.com, the Edgewater is an excellent option for your vacation.
1. Marshall’s Creek Rest Motel
This throwback to the days when Gatlinburg wasn’t dominated by the big chains is a charming change of pace from the cookie-cutter chain hotels.
However, that comes with its pluses and minuses. Specifically, amenities aren’t as necessarily as nice as what you might find at larger chains, but the experience is more memorable.
How many times in your life do you remember what your hotel looked like? What is felt like to stay there? Marshalls Creek Rest Motel will stand out for good reason.
Rated a wonderful 9.1 on Booking.com, we found it very affordable at $724 for the last week of March 2023.
Do you have a favorite hotel in Gatlinburg? Let us know in the comments!