The trend is clear: many travelers today crave a sense of place, eager to immerse themselves into the local culture of their destination. Luckily for Atlanta visitors and locals alike, these emerging leaders of the hospitality industry are apt to satisfy those appetites. From new architectural marvels to renovated sites rich with Southern history, check in to a hotel designed to become a destination in and of itself.
The Graduate Athens
Designed For: Kids at Heart
Since opening in late 2014, this funky hotel from AJ Capital Partners has remained head of its class. Formerly the Foundry Park Inn and Spa, the historic property neighboring the University of Georgia (UGA) was the first to open in a line of Graduate Hotels now sweeping college towns across the country.
The Look: Smart style and retro touches abound throughout the 122-room hotel. Guests are greeted in the lobby by locally sourced antiques worthy of an A grade. Bonus: some suites include arcade games and a record player complete with a stack of Athens-made artists on vinyl. It's pure whimsy, designed to invoke a sense of youthful optimism.
The 'Hood: Located about an hour and a half from Atlanta, Athens is a popular choice for football fans in the fall. However, no diploma is necessary to know that Athens has much more to offer. This charming Southern town is known for its live music scene and dining options ranging from pizza at Transmetropolitan to dishes from celebrity chef Hugh Acheson.
The Food: Back at the Graduate, grab a bite and brew from the Iron Works Coffee, open morning to night. Also onsite, The Foundry serves cocktails and craft beer, dinner and live music. The name alludes to their history dating back to 1850; blacksmiths made the famed UGA Arch and Double-Barreled Cannon here.
The Spa: The only destination in Graduate Hotels’ portfolio with a spa, enjoy some extra R&R with facials, massages, manicures, pedicures, wraps, exfoliations and more.
Getting Around: Explore Athens by foot, or on two wheels with the Graduate’s complimentary bike rentals.
Solís Two Porsche Drive
Designed for: Stylish Jet Setters
Opened in November 2017, the luxe hotel marks first U.S. location for Solís Hotels and Resorts. The 214 guest rooms (18 executive suites, nine track-view suites, one presidential suite) are minimal and futuristic. A Porsche model car greets guests outside, and artwork inside gets car-lovers’ hearts racing. Watch planes and sports cars zoom by while imbibing at the rooftop Overdrive Lounge. Room service is also available 24 hours from Apron, a full-service restaurant.
The 'Hood: Located in Hapeville, the hotel overlooks the 1.6-mile track at the Porsche Experience Center Atlanta and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport—ideal for fast-paced flyers.
Getting Around: Two white Porsche Cayennes are reserved for VIP transfers to and from the nearby airport.
The American Hotel
Designed For: History Lovers
Following two years of renovations, this Double-Tree by Hilton, located in the heart of the city, debuted its soft rebranding in October 2017. Originally built in 1962, new ownership from Legacy Ventures has returned to its original name, honoring its landmark history. The American has not only hosted many world leaders (Martin Luther King, Jr., Jimmy Carter, Elvis Presley, James Brown, Aretha Franklin—to name a few) but was the first integrated hotel in then-flourishing Downtown Atlanta.
The Look: From the beautiful light fixtures in the Apollo Ballroom to the bright blue Igloo mini fridges in suites, mid-century modern flair celebrates the spirit and energy of the 1960s. In the lobby, framed mementos and an interactive digital screen offer little history lessons, while a player piano serenades guests with Rat Pack-style tunes.
The 'Hood: Located in the Centennial Park District, guests are in walking distance from some of Atlanta’s most popular attractions as well as AmericasMart. With 20 years of developing Downtown, Legacy Ventures-owned businesses surround the park, including STATS Brewpub, Der Biergarten, Glenn’s Kitchen and many more.
The History: The decision for integration shone a light on Atlanta’s corner of the South. The hotel’s reputation for true hospitality allowed the Atlanta Braves to host their competing teams on property.
The Food: Once the site of the happening Golden Palm, the new Cloakroom Kitchen & Bar plays both menu and decor off the Cold War era and spy movies.
Getting Around: Opt to navigate by foot, MARTA or Atlanta Streetcar. For a guided experience, ATL-Cruzers operates fun Segway tours.
The Hotel at Avalon
Overlooking Avalon, Alpharetta’s upscale urbanburb, the 330-key Marriott Autograph Collection hotel opens Jan. 16. With conveniences kin to a destination resort, The Hotel at Avalon anchors the family-friendly mixed-use community and aligns well with a modern Southern lifestyle.
The lobby sets an inviting tone for guests as they settle into “The Living Room,” designed to feel like a grand home. The relaxed social hub with a craft bar and flexible seating areas that can be utilized for events. South City Kitchen, a local favorite by Fifth Group Restaurant, brings the concept’s beloved takes on elevated Southern cuisine to Hotel at Avalon. Expect SCK signatures as well as seasonal fare.
The 'Hood: Just outside the hotel, play a game of bocce ball, gather around a fire pit or sip and stroll (thanks to an open container policy) while checking out the collection of upscale retailers and restaurants that call Avalon home. Down the street, check out the city of Alpharetta’s historic buildings, boutique shopping and both new and time-honored restaurants.
Getting Around: With so much within walking distance, no car is necessary. And from making dinner reservations to planning surprises, the Club Avalon Concierge can help. Bonus: a planned greenway will connect Avalon to downtown Alpharetta.
Designed For: Late Night Revelers
Originally built in the 1920s, the revamped Hotel Clermont—known for the infamous Clermont Lounge in its basement—is a vital landmark in Atlanta’s history, albeit with a curious past. The anticipated 94-room boutique hotel is set to open spring 2018. A team of seasoned professionals includes general manager Alan Rae, executive chef Jeb Aldrich and director of restaurants Nick Hassiotis.
The Look: Three suites, 76 standard rooms and 15 bunk rooms—made for four guests each as an ode to the hotel’s historical revolving door of notable guests—make up the accommodation offerings. New York-based studio Reunion Goods & Services is planning eclectically lavish décor to span the decades since the hotel’s genesis with a posh-punk vibe.
The 'Hood: Located along Ponce de Leon Avenue, burgeoning neighborhoods have built up around the long-dormant hotel, each as rich with history as they are ripe with redevelopment. Nearby Ponce City Market will satisfy foodies with stalls from some of the city’s favorite chefs. Across the street, guests can discover hidden gems inside Paris on Ponce as well as nightlife at neighborhood bars across the street like 8arm and The Local.
The Food: Tounge-in-cheek with the hotel’s notoriety, an American-French brasserie will be managed by Charleston-based Indigo Road Hospitality Group. The restaurant and rooftop bar will be named Tiny Lou’s, inspired by a popular dancer at the former Clermont Motor Hotel’s “Gypsy Room” in the 1950s, according to Atlanta folklore.
Getting Around: Steps away, the Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail awaits, connecting diverse communities via art-filled public greenspace.
The Whitley Atlanta Buckhead
Designed For: A New Generation
To the shock of some and buzz of others, The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead is no more. After an extensive rebranding and refresh, The Whitley, a Luxury Collection Hotel, opened in December 2017. Guests can still earn Starwood Preferred Guest, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Marriott Rewards.
The Look: Cosmopolitan meets timeless style. The 507 rooms, including 56 suites, offer sweeping views of Atlanta skyline. The 31 versatile event spaces, including the new 5,000-square-foot Legacy Ballroom with private alfresco terrace, are apt to continue The Ritz’s tradition of hosting notable gatherings.
The Hood: The hotel squarely faces Buckhead’s designer shopping and popular dining at Lenox Square Mall, Shops Around Lenox and Phipps Plaza. Fun fact: The hotel’s name pays tribute to Buckhead founder, John Whitley.
The Food: The Coffee Bar has grab-and-go bites and cold-pressed juice, while Trade Root serves Mediterranean-style recipes, cocktails, wine and cordials.
The Leadership: At the helm is managing director David Friederich (formerly The Kessler Collection, among others). “We’re excited to usher in a new era for one of Buckhead’s most storied addresses,” said Friederich.
Getting Around: UberBLACK. This is Buckhead, after all.