Georgia

7 Coolest Hotels in Atlanta | In and Around Downtown and Midtown

From affordable to upscale, stay and play at these happening hotels in Atlanta, where the locals hang out too.

Sitting at the restaurant bar of the Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta, a longtime favorite dinner and nightspot downtown, I nudged my friend Richard. “I think that’s Robert Goulet at that table over there.”

“No way,” he said.

We were watching my girlfriend, Atlanta-based jazz chanteuse Nicole Chillemi, perform. Richard leaned in to the bartender to ask if it was Goulet. Sure enough, the bartender confirmed, it was the legendary crooner and actor. Before the night was over, he would accept an invitation from my girlfriend to grace the microphone. He belted out the classic “On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever)” before exiting with his entourage to enthusiastic applause, waving and smiling to a room full of people surprised to learn that a legend was in their presence. Later that year, Goulet passed away and theater marquees across North America, including in Atlanta, were dimmed in his honor.

In Atlanta, such celebrity encounters are most likely to occur in downtown and midtown hotels, as well as the surrounding neighborhoods. Here, up-and-comers easily mingle with legends. It’s the Southern crossroads of glamour and grit. The best hotels are the ones where the locals hang out too, places where Southern hospitality rules the day and natives and out-of-towners happily co-exist in the common areas of Atlanta’s coolest hotels.

Motor in to the Clermont for Legendary Urban Charm

Providing a clue to its storied past, Hotel Clermont still has the old green neon sign out front proclaiming it a “Motor Hotel.” The Clermont is the stuff of legend in Atlanta. Long before it was reborn in 2018 as a trendy lifestyle hotel, it seemed straight out of a mid-century noir pulp fiction novel, the type of place where gruff private eyes might hole-up on stakeouts with ladies of the night.

Located on Ponce de Leon Avenue, itself a once-seedy stretch now lined with hip shopping and dining options, the decadence has given way to authentic urban charm.

After a painstaking renovation process, that kept the building’s historic character, the Clermont no longer rents rooms by the hour. Locals were happy, though, that the Clermont Lounge remained in the basement untouched. The Clermont Lounge is a strip club that defies description, though many have tried. When Anthony Bourdain visited with Alton Brown for an episode of “Parts Unknown” he declared the place should be a National Historic Landmark. It’s the kind of strip club/dive bar you can take a date to, and if your date’s impressed, you know there will be a second date.

The hotel has a cool, hostel-like vibe and even offers bunk rooms on its lower levels for parties of singles who don’t want to share a bed, along with regular rooms and suites. The décor is punk rock meets your grandparent’s living room, with plenty of vintage flourishes. The rooftop bar consistently makes the best-of lists for the city, thanks to its great views, drinks and unpretentious setting beneath the iconic radio tower with its red neon sign.

Clermont

Atlanta
8.9 Excellent (291 reviews)

Immerse Yourself in Affordable Authenticity

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in an Atlanta neighborhood that isn’t filled with skyscrapers and sky-high prices, The Highland Inn is an affordable option that does the trick nicely. Located in the Poncey-Highlands district, a couple of miles east of Midtown, this is the place to unwind in the city and meet traveling musicians. It’s a frequent stop for many touring indie bands, some of whom may be playing at the Highland Inn Ballroom, a music club/event space in the basement of the hotel.

Be on the lookout for Pirate, the hotel cat, upon entering. Pirate, a rescue, likes to greet new guests and has been known to visit them in their rooms.

The Highland is known for personal and attentive service, as well as comfortable rooms with furniture that may resemble that of your childhood bedroom. It’s a non-traditional hotel that feels more quirky than modern, with plenty of character. They’re not trying to wow you with hip artwork and décor here, just provide an independent alternative to the chains with a friendly neighborhood charm.

Anything could be happening in the ballroom below during your stay, be it a comedy show, literary event or indie musical act. Manuel’s Tavern, a legendary museum-like pub with a long history, is a half-block away. Like the Highland, it’s one of those non-pretentious places that doesn’t have to try to be hip and that’s what makes it so cool.

The Highland Inn

Atlanta
7.7 Good (2162 reviews)

Find Refuge in Historic Haunts in the Heart of Downtown

The Ellis Hotel is a boutique refuge in the heart of the downtown business district that is dog-friendly and has a strong eco-conscious ethic. Yeah, yeah, that’s pretty much every big-city boutique these days, we know, so what makes this place cool?

Well, it’s haunted, or so say a lot of people who seek out such things. You won’t find specifics on the hotel’s website, only a vague reference that the property has helped shape America as we know it today. It’s a curious but true statement that needs elaboration.In 1946, when it was known as the Winecoff Hotel, 119 people perished in a fire. It’s the worst hotel fire in American history. The reason every hotel in the United States has certain safety standards and fire codes in place today can be traced directly back to what happened here in 1946. Understandably, the Ellis doesn’t like to play this angle in their PR materials, but the hotel is a National Historic Landmark, nonetheless, visited by history buffs and those who seek out the paranormal in their travels.

Most people who stay here enjoy the contemporary, comfortable rooms, nightly wine tastings, farm-to-table restaurant with a Southern focus, and an ideal central downtown location without any idea of the history of the place.

Ellis Hotel, Atlanta, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel

Atlanta
8.4 Very good (1819 reviews)

Stay in the Center of the Action with Stunning Nightime Views

In a part of town where it’s hard to find hotels that aren’t behemoths, the 110-room Glenn Hotel stands out for its smaller size and personalized service.

It calls itself downtown’s first boutique property and is a favorite for business travelers, who appreciate the hotel’s convenient location in the city’s center of commerce. Leisure travelers love being across the street from Centennial Park, home to the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola, and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

It’s also across from the CNN Center, State Farm Arena, and within easy walking distance to Mercedes-Benz Stadium. In short, it’s the coolest place to stay close to the city’s biggest venues for concerts and sporting events, as well as major attractions

The building is a ten-story limestone edifice built in the early 1920s. In 2006 it was re-purposed into a contemporary boutique hotel with sleek, modern décor throughout. Locals began flocking when they discovered the rooftop bar, providing what is perhaps the most stunning nighttime view of the city skyline and the park with its spectacular twinkling lights after dark.

Glenn Hotel, Autograph Collection

Top rated
Atlanta
8.5 Excellent (1390 reviews)

Get Classy and Stay Cool on Peachtree Street

This one may sound like the un-coolest hotel on this list because, well, it’s a Ritz-Carlton, but ritzy can still be cool … or hot. This location has long been a hotspot downtown where locals and guests crowd into the lounge and restaurant to see and be seen at this ideal spot on Peachtree Street. It’s one of those places in Atlanta where celebrity encounters are common (as in the intro above). The restaurant is a modern steakhouse called AG, formerly the Atlanta Grill. After a recent major renovation, the name was shortened to the initials, but locals still refer to it by its former name. When the weather’s nice, request a table on the covered balcony overlooking Peachtree. Lumen Bar is a trendy and sophisticated lounge with live music nightly from renowned Atlanta-based acts.

There also a Jittery Joe’s in the lobby, the first Atlanta outpost of this hip Athens, Georgia-based micro-coffee roaster that has graduated from its college town roots to the big city.

Beyond the happenings in the lobby, it’s a Ritz, so you’re going to experience impeccable service and plush comfort in an upscale setting.

Hotel The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta

Top rated
Atlanta
8.9 Excellent (1390 reviews)

Mozy to the Moxy for Midtown Fun and the Arts

Opened in early 2019, Moxy Atlanta Midtown sits in the heart of Midtown’s bustling arts and commerce district, home to the city’s major art museums and theaters, which are in walking distance. First-timers may feel like they’ve stumbled into a cozy, comfy, trendy nightclub when checking in because that’s exactly what the lobby feels and looks like. In fact, there’s no traditional check-in desk. You check in at the bar where you’ll receive a complimentary cocktail after providing your info. You may want to hang out in the lobby, er, bar, for a bit before heading to your room to finish your drink, play board games and meet fellow travelers. The communal spaces of the Moxy are industrial chic and filled with playful artwork, including a giant mural by renowned local artist Greg Mike.

The rooms are bright and minimalist in design with no closets, irons or ironing boards (those are in the communal spaces). There’s no in-room coffee but freshly brewed local joe awaits in the lobby, along with plenty of grab-n-go foodstuffs. The whole concept is experiential. This is a place to meet like-minded, adventurers who don’t want to hole up in their rooms until it’s sleep time. The playful touches continue once in the room, though, such as the room phone. It looks like an old-school rotary phone, but there’s no dial, just buttons, one of which you can press to have bedtime stories read to you in case you’re having trouble sleeping.

Moxy Atlanta Midtown

Atlanta
8.3 Very good (155 reviews)

Hang with the Locals Across from the Fox

For the concert-going, theater crowd, this is the coolest hotel in the lower part of Midtown. Hotel Indigo Atlanta Midtown is located across from one of the city’s most cherished venues, the historic Fox Theatre. If you’re coming from the airport, it’s also within easy walking distance from the North Avenue MARTA station. Like all Hotel Indigo properties (this was the first) it strives to blend into the neighborhood with hyperlocal elements, in this case, the arts and theater themed décor. Both the lobby and the rooms are filled with fun, vibrant artwork such as graffiti-style murals, and concert/theater posters adorning the walls.

Though it’s a thoroughly modern hotel, the fact that’s it’s located in a renovated historic building means the rooms, and especially the bathrooms, may be smaller than one would expect in a contemporary property, but the beds are super comfy. Many rooms even have a direct view of the iconic Fox marquee.

Mingle with other guests and locals at 683 Midtown Bar in the lobby. It’s open late and popular with Atlanta’s theater-going crowd before and after the show.

Hotel Indigo Atlanta Midtown

Atlanta
8.0 Very good (1750 reviews)