Culture / Travel

Exploring Southall, the Luxurious Farm Resort Just Outside of Nashville

Casual, Sustainable Luxury in Franklin, Tennessee

BY // 08.17.23

The intrigue surrounding Southall, the luxurious farm resort in Franklin, Tennessee (just 30 minutes outside of Nashville), has steadily grown since it quietly opened in December 2022. Franklin’s skyrocketing cool factor hasn’t hurt. As Nashville’s population has risen, so has awareness of the nearby Tennessee town, with its charming local businesses and rich history (the latter of which Franklin has grappled with in unique ways).

But with the arrival of Southall, set on 300 acres of farmlands in the rolling hills outside of town, Franklin is no longer just a day trip destination. As Caroline Eubanks wrote for Conde Nast Traveler earlier this year, “There’s never been a better time to visit Franklin, Tennessee.”

Exterior of Event Center and Lake Mishkin
Kayak on Lake Mishkin at Southall.

First Impressions

The moment you ditch your car and enter Southall’s towering glass doors, the property smells otherworldly — as if Santal 33 occurred in the wild. We were told it’s just the wood burning in the kitchen, but there has to be some sage in there (probably sourced from the farm).

The staff is warm and personable — you get a sense that everyone is inspired to work at Southall, which is easy to understand once you know the backstory. The property, which took eight years to bring to life, is a passion project of founder Paul Mishkin. After purchasing the land, he brought on countless experts to design, construct, and revitalize its 325 acres for sustainable farming. Striking, eco-focused architecture and inspired furnishings live up to the natural landscape’s grandeur.

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Sojourner, the restaurant at the heart of Southall.

Who’s There?

Apparently, we arrived just days after Matthew McConaughey stayed at Southall. But the music industry still left plenty of little starry encounters. Dining fireside each night, we sat next to a variety of interesting characters, from a stylist who’s worked with Carrie Underwood to a jewelry designer who dressed Lenny Kravitz. I overheard a group of men discussing the rollout of their next album. (The Southall scene does lend itself to artistic creativity.)

Beyond the stars and star adjacents, the lobby was often filled with families or Nashville day trippers visiting for lunch or dinner (the food really is that good).

Introducing Pêche

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A one-bedroom cottage at Southall.

How are the Rooms?

All the guestrooms — the 62 at the Inn and the 16 cottage suites — are exquisitely appointed with eclectic furnishings and pieces from local Tennessee artists. Wallpaper, lush textiles, and gorgeous lighting give the rooms plenty of personality, but never take away from the bucolic views beyond.

Bathrooms have soaking tubs and closets are generously sized. All plush linens are by Frette and full-sized bath products come from luxe Barcelona beauty brand Natura Bisse.

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Take an apiary tour at Southall.

The Best Southall Experiences

The best Southall experience is, bar none, the food, which is sourced every day from the gardens, greenhouses, and orchards on site. If you get up early enough to hike or e-bike around the property, you’ll see local farmers picking heirloom tomatoes for BLTs or fresh fruit for morning smoothies. While in the Inn, we spotted a chef cutting nearby marigolds to top that evening’s dinner dishes. It’s all so impromptu and natural — they almost make it look easy.

The menu at Southall’s main restaurant, Sojourner, evolves to reflect the day’s harvest, so I can’t make any specific dish recommendations, but I will say this: try everything you can during your time at Southall. Leave no heirloom vegetable behind.

Beyond the dining, Southall has a variety of interesting experiences that let you further explore the property. There are active options (archery, aerial courses) and chiller choices (tea ceremonies, fly fishing). Southall also marks the first time I’ve seen a falconry experience.

Given the farm focus of it all, try something agriculture related. Personally, I cannot recommend Southall’s apiary tour enough (or our guide, Katherine). You get to wear a beekeeping suit, taste honey right out of the hive, and leave with much greater knowledge and appreciation for bees.

If you have an afternoon, opt for an ATV tour of the area’s winding backcountry roads. A collaboration between Southall and Fisher’s Off-Road, the splash-filled ride took us by old country barns, celebrity estates, and plenty of farm animals. It was a total trip.

Tragically, the spa was being renovated the week were there, but soothing yoga and sound bath meditations are always complimentary for guests.

Historic downtown Franklin (photo by Brandon Jean)

Exploring Historic Downtown Franklin

For some great food and antiquing, carve out an afternoon to visit historic Franklin. The Southall crew will drop you in the heart of downtown, where you can grab a whiskey cocktail at Gray’s on Main, enjoy a chicken salad sandwich at Merridee’s Breadbasket, or relax into the eclectic, vegetarian-friendly scene at Red Pony.

For shopping, don’t miss the Franklin offshoot of popular Nashville store White’s Mercantile or the shop-slash-coffee-lounge Onyx + Alabaster. The sprawling Factory at Franklin is the South’s answer to New York’s Chelsea Market, while Saint Goose, situated in a newly restored historic home, is a wine and whiskey lover’s dream.

The antique scene is epic. Shop vintage furnishings at City Farmhouse or treasure hunt at the upscale booths of Winchester Antique Mall. Gallery 202, housed in a historic 1821 home, is surprisingly contemporary, and the Rare Prints Gallery has unique works to fill your walls.

Between all the shopping and sipping, be sure to take some time to take in the impeccably preserved architecture around historic downtown Franklin. There’s a reason the 2023 Southern Living Idea House is located in the Tennessee town this year.

Southall Hilltop Pavillion
The hilltop pavilion at Southall.

Final Thoughts

Given the current luxury travel trends (destination hotels, authentic experiences, and connection to nature), Southall could be the poster child for the quiet comfort modern vacationers are looking for today. It’s a truly one-of-a-kind experience.

Looking to buy or sell in Aspen?
Tommy Kanarellis
tommyk@compass.com  970.452.9661
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