AOL PICK from our Editors
For years Atlanta's selection of great hotels was slim, but that era is long gone. In the last few years the Atlanta hotel scene has been shaken up by exciting newcomers as the luxurious Mansion on Peachtree and the St. Regis joined the impeccable Four Seasons at the top end of the price scale, rounding out the selection of the best Atlanta hotels. In the middle price range, the Artmore and the Palomar are plucky new properties grabbing a lot of attention. In the budget sector, the choices haven't changed much, but there are good options at decent prices so long as you’re okay with chain hotels or hostels: staying in downtown Atlanta is pricey if you want character. Where you choose to stay—as in what neighborhood—will probably be dictated by your main goals in Atlanta. If you're coming for the sights, Downtown or Midtown offer the best places to stay in Atlanta. If you're coming to shop, stay in Buckhead for some of the high end and best Atlanta hotels, or Poncey-Highland for the quirky low end.
Neighborhood: Buckhead Price Range: Expensive
The Mansion on Peachtree jumped to the top of the Atlanta accommodations heap when it opened in 2008, and has maintained its name as one of the best Atlanta hotels since. The Mansion is refined and elegant to be sure, but thanks to careful appointments manages to exude a hominess sorely lacking in many other high-end hotels. From the leather wingback chairs clustered around the fireplace in the lobby to the clubby wood-paneled Mansion Bar to the brocaded curtains in the guest rooms, The Mansion succeeds in making you feel like you’re in someone’s, well, mansion rather than in a corporate cocoon. All of its spacious 127 rooms feature marble bathrooms, large closets and city views. For the big splurge, check into the Rosewood Presidential Suite, a lush 2,340-square-foot mini-palace with panoramic vistas of the skyline. The Mansion boasts a great Buckhead location, excellent for shopping, just steps from both Phipps Plaza and Lenox Square Mall. For unwinding there's 29 Spa, a sumptuous 15,000-square-foot oasis created by 29 Cosmetics founder Lydia Mondavi. Craft Atlanta, the local outpost of superchef Tom Collichio's famed New York restaurant, is right in The Mansion's foreyard.
Neighborhood: Midtown Price Range: Expensive
Though its reign as the city's newest luxury property ended with the opening of The Mansion on Peahtree in 2008, the Four Seasons Atlanta is still one of the best, and poshest temporary addresses in Midtown. Set in a stunning rose and granite tower the Four Seasons' 244 rooms (including 18 suites) are bright and spacious, with cushy appointments like a refrigerator, twice-daily housekeeping and plush robes. Need a fax machine or an air ionizer? Just ask. For the best views of Atlanta, book one of the corner suites on the 19th floor. Four Seasons is one of the best places to stay in Atlanta for location. The Four Seasons' proximity to some of Atlanta's best attractions, like the Botanical Gardens and Piedmont Park, is big plus for us. The Park 75 restaurant on the third floor offers three separate dining areas—lounge, inside dining room or the terrace overlooking the three-story atrium—and blends classical elegance with superb food. Forget local; Park 75 flies in the finest ingredients from around the globe—moonfish from Hawaii, scallops from PEI—and serves them up with style. Gold leafed chocolate with champagne for dessert? Yes, please! Despite the indulgent bent of the menu, prices aren’t as astronomical as we feared (about $100 a person for dinner) and there are prixe fixe and tasting menus that allow you to indulge for less. That’s still a splurge for most of us, but what a splurge!
Neighborhood: Buckhead Price Range: Expensive
The St. Regis Atlanta opened in 2009 as a nearly flawless Buckhead hotel. It has the grand feeling and away-from-it-all atmosphere of a country resort, yet it’s right in the middle of Atlanta’s most elegant neighborhood. The St. Regis is one of the top Atlanta hotels for luxury. At every turn, the design reinforces that feeling of being somehow above it all. There’s the massive 40,000 sq. ft. Pool Piazza set in a garden surrounded by Italianate stone walls with its private cabanas and outdoor fireplace; the grand double staircase in the lobby, the billiards room and even a dark-wood-and-leather furnished library perfect for quaffing a couple of fingers of well-aged Taylor Fladgate sherry after dinner. Signature St. Regis butler services add to the luxury, with lovely touches like in-room French press coffee and a packing/unpacking service. The St. Regis is also home to Georgia's first Remède Spa. Should you ever need to leave, the complimentary Bentley car service will whisk you anywhere you wish within a two-mile radius.
Neighborhood: Midtown Price Range: Moderate
Atlanta's first hotel from Kimpton, the Palomar includes all of the perks that Kimpton fans love: pet-friendliness, eco-friendliness, and above all, guest-friendliness. The 304 rooms come in a multitude of sizes and configurations, and feel hip but homey, with nice touches like a choice of pillow style and L'Occitane bath amenities. The Fuji spa tubs alone make the suites worth the splurge. You’ll really appreciate them while you’re soaking off an afternoon’s worth of touring the neighborhood. Hotel Palomar is one of the best Atlanta hotels for a moderate price with a great location for touring the city. The Palomar's prime Midtown location is within easy walking distance of Georgia Tech, the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum and the Midtown MARTA station. It even hosts one of the neighborhood's top restaurants, Pacci, which provides room service if you’d rather dine in.
Neighborhood: Downtown Price Range: Moderate
The site that now houses the Ellis opened triumphantly in 1913 as the Winecoff Hotel; it was Atlanta's tallest building at the time. The builders were so confident that its masonry construction made it "absolutely fireproof" that they didn't bother with fire escapes, sprinklers or alarms, a folly that had tragic consequences in 1946 when it became the scene of what's still the nation's worst hotel fire. After more than a half century of post-fire use as a hotel and a retirement home followed by years sitting empty, an outstanding $24 million restoration (including the very latest in fire safety of course) brought this once-glamorous jewel back to life in 2007. Its 127 rooms offer boutique sophistication at a price that won't break the bank. The espresso-colored bamboo paneling, limestone flooring and Kohler garden style shower heads in the rooms, along with iPad docks and Molton Brown bath products, are unexpected luxuries. The Ellis is also within easy walking distance of the CNN Center, the Georgia Aquarium, and the World of Coca Cola.
Neighborhood: Midtown Price Range: Moderate
Located in a landmark 1924 Spanish Mediterranean building, the Artmore brought boutique style to Midtown when it debuted in 2009. The sleek interior is done in warm tones and features playful details—Midcentury Modern chairs in the lobby, metal fish scales on the lobby bar—that pay homage to the nearby Arts District. Artmore Hotel is one of the best places to stay in Atlanta if you're looking for a modern, well-decorated boutique. The Artmore is in an enviable location, just steps from the High Museum of Art and the Arts Center MARTA station. Its 102 rooms feature upscale touches like iPod docking stations, rain shower heads and refrigerators, and WiFi is complimentary throughout the hotel. Downstairs, the Studio Bar & Lounge has become a popular nightspot for urban-leaning visitors and residents.
Emily Saunders Furtsch
Neighborhood: Midtown Price Range: Budget
This place isn’t fancy and it’s not very private but it’s ridiculously cheap: Students and foreign passport holders pay just $21.95 for a bunk bed. Atlanta's first hostel when it opened in 1991, this Midtown property has grown from 20 beds to 100, and houses everyone from college students to international travelers to Americans on a budget. Men and women sleep in separate dorms, but there's a common kitchen plus a laundry room and game room, and a bathroom for every eight guests. There's no curfew, and, since you’re sleeping in a dorm with people you don’t know, you’re likely to be awakened at any hour of the night as people come and go. If you're looking to stay in Atlanta for a short period of time, on a budget or you're just passing through the International Hostel is one of the best places to stay in Atlanta. Getting your turn in the bath in the morning can be a challenge, too. On the upside, Krispy Kreme doughnuts and coffee are free while you’re waiting to take a shower.
Neighborhood: Poncey-Highland Price Range: Budget
If the phrase "hipster charm" doesn't scare you off, then the Highland Inn is the hotel for you. Opened in 1927 as the Wynne Hotel and Tea Room, this quirky property has seen a lot in its day, and now draws in adventurous travelers looking to soak up local color. For Atlantans, one of the hotel's premier draws (and a good reason to book your room on a higher floor) is its basement Ballroom Lounge, which features local musicians in the early evening before morphing into a dance club later on (the monthly art/dance event Laser Beam Kitty is held here). The rooms are borderline icky, but they're dirt cheap, and the staff is lovely—and after all, you're here for the character … if your definition of character includes some peeling plaster and grimy grout in the bathroom tile, that is. Still, it’s one of the cheapest downtown hotels and you won’t have to go chase the nightlife as it comes to you. Close to both the Little Five Points and Virginia-Highland neighborhoods, The Highland is perfectly situated for the indie Atlanta experience.
Neighborhood: Downtown Price Range: Budget
Sure, it's a Motel 6. But as Motel 6's go, this one's got a lot going for it, including close proximity to some of Atlanta's top draws: It's less than a mile to CNN Center, the Atlanta Civic Center, the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca Cola. Motel 6 is one of the top Atlanta hotels for families. The rooms are bare bones (don't expect more than a bar of nondescript soap), but they're clean, and the rates are substantially lower than fancier neighbors like the Hilton—$50 a night versus almost $200. WiFi and parking are free, making it even easier on your budget.
Neighborhood: Buckhead Price Range: Budget
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A budget hotel in pricey Buckhead? You bet. Staybridge is a nice extended-stay property with 83 spacious and clean rooms. Not only are the accommodations easy on the wallet, but they all have full kitchens featuring a large refrigerator, a microwave, a coffee maker and a dishwasher, as well as plates, glasses and utensils. If you’re here with a family, making a few meals in will save even more. The WiFi and buffet breakfast are free, and the indoor pool and Jacuzzi are our favorite features. A complimentary shuttle will take you anywhere within a three mile radius—great for shoppers, since both Phipps Plaza and Lenox Square Mall are just two miles away.