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I've stayed in Atlanta's best hotels and these are the 11 properties I'm most likely to book, plus 3 tips on choosing the right neighborhood

Su-Jit Lin   

I've stayed in Atlanta's best hotels and these are the 11 properties I'm most likely to book, plus 3 tips on choosing the right neighborhood
Hotel Colee in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood features a terrace pool.Michael Kleinberg/Hotel Colee
  • If you're visiting Atlanta, look at hotels in Buckhead, Midtown, and Downtown.
  • Here are a local's favorite 11 hotels to choose from, ranging from budget-friendly to luxury.

Atlanta is a huge city, with its metro area spanning some 8,000 square miles. While residents like me fan out into diverse neighborhoods, most leisure visitors and business travelers stay in three conveniently located ones: Buckhead, midtown, and downtown.

Buckhead is the height of style in Atlanta — an established tony neighborhood that resists datedness by regularly welcoming shiny new builds, upscale stores, and some of the nicest hotels in the city. Two designer malls anchor its reputation as a luxury shopper's haven, and trendy high-end restaurants make it my default for date nights or fancy nights out with friends. Buckhead Village is especially charming during winter holidays.

Midtown is the well-established heart of the city and one of my favorite parts — artsy with a lovingly tended gayborhood and landmark rainbow crosswalk at 10th and Piedmont; gorgeous, expansive parks; and diverse architecture. Hotels here keep you central to most of Atlanta's best outdoor spaces; authentic, accessible dining and nightlife; and historic attractions. This is where I always stayed before I moved here.

You'll want to stay in a hotel downtown if you want close access to the more commercial tourist sights, like Centennial Olympic Park, the CNN studio, a 200-foot Ferris wheel, and the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. As the city's central business district, downtown has a certain polish in main-street areas.

Hyatt Centric Buckhead

Hyatt Centric Buckhead
The Hyatt Centric Buckhead offers brightly decorated rooms and a rooftop lounge.      Nicholas Widener for Insider

This lifestyle hotel may be new to Atlanta, but its design is rooted in Georgia clay and the state's pottery heritage, as well as Buckhead's present reputation as the local forefront of fashion. The 16-story hotel features rich earth tones, bursts of bright colors, intriguing textures and patterns, and clean lines.

Its 218 guest rooms are generous and well-appointed with floor-to-ceiling windows. The corner units offer unobstructed views of the verdant Buckhead landscape and, on a clear day, Atlanta's skyline.

The best view, however, isn't even private. I love the unmissable rooftop at Spaceman, an indoor-outdoor lounge space with dual terraces, TVs, games, and cozy furniture. The craft cocktails are good props to have in hand as you overlook the Lenox Square district.

The Burgess Hotel

The Burgess Hotel
Stay at a spacious and thoughtfully themed suite at The Burgess Hotel.      Nicholas Widener for Insider

Visitors from years past wouldn't recognize this former Wingate by Wyndham — the dramatically renovated boutique Burgess Hotel has taken on a bold, bright identity of its own.

The global decor and details reflect the Asian heritage and experiences of the highly hands-on owners Freny and Burges Jokhi, the latter of whom is also the executive chef at the excellent Indian-Mediterranean restaurant Fia. It's lavish, opulent, and absolutely wild, from the thatch-textured lobby to the ornate meeting room and the dramatic cobalt "library" off the bar. There are also eight internationally themed suites, especially popular among local staycationers like me.

I find the romantic Arabian Nights suite enchanting with its wooden carved daybed and overstuffed floor pillows. The Maharaja Indian-themed suite contrasts dynamic royal reds and ochres with stark whites. I also love the tropical feel of the Balinese suite, where island woods bring the tropics to the subtropical A; same with the Fiji suite, but with an airier touch. The London Hip Suite is filled with colorful pop art, but the crown jewel is the African Safari Penthouse, where glamping vibes come through strongly with natural materials and colors veering toward the dark and sultry.

Hotel Colee

Hotel Colee
The brightly decorated Hotel Colee is located in Buckhead.      Nicholas Widener for Insider

In the heart of Buckhead's high-rise district, among the name-brand boutiques and mega malls, it's only fitting to stay in a hotel with a lot of expressive style. From the whimsical retro lettering on the building to the patterns that grace the interiors, I find Hotel Colee be loud in all the right ways.

Art lovers will appreciate the revolving gallery of works by Atlanta-based creators exhibited in the lobby. The pieces are all for sale, making souvenir shopping a bit more sophisticated than usual.

The 24/7 fitness center and the rooftop pool with a glass balcony and expansive views are even more reason to spend your downtime at this hotel. Other great perches include the rooftop bar Whiskey Blue's two outdoor patios and the fashionable lounge rooms on the higher floors. I love the bold damask accent walls, the daybeds in the window nook, and the spectacular natural lighting. But if that doesn't wake you up enough, there's free coffee in the lobby every morning.

The Kimpton Sylvan Hotel

The Kimpton Sylvan Hotel
In a redesigned residential building, The Kimpton Sylvan Hotel features mid-century modern design and several eateries.      Nicholas Widener for Insider

Nestled among trees — its name, Sylvan, was derived from the Latin word for forest — and offering earth-toned sanctuary, this mid-century-modern hotel feels like a retreat from the sleek, well-developed shops of Buckhead Village just outside.

Because the hotel was formerly a luxury residential community, I think it's easy to feel at home, from the evening social hours to the pool to the pet-friendly policies. I love that it offers complimentary access to Wag premium services and discounts. Wellness amenities include a 24-hour fitness center and complimentary Public bikes.

While the secret-garden Willow Bar is closed for a refresh, the hotel's outdoor space is still noteworthy, particularly the rooftop bar and restaurant. On the ninth floor, St. Julep offers up-close-and-personal views of Buckhead plus cocktails, craft brews, snacks, and a DJ on the weekends. Indoors, The Betty wowed me with its supper-club style of plush reds and posh blues that dominate a space with rich, golden woods, evoking timeless luxury.

Element Atlanta Midtown

Element Atlanta Midtown
Element Atlanta Midtown is an eco-conscious hotel with sleek, minimal design.      Nicholas Widener for Insider

Element Atlanta Midtown's location near Georgia Tech and Coda Tech Square — a development with homes, offices, restaurants, and bars — are immediate cues about the type of lifestyle this recent arrival caters to. I find this hotel to be youthful and energetic, with all the subtext that goes along with embracing the title of the Silicon Valley of the South.

Eco-conscious, modern, airy, bright, and minimal, the hotel is also health- and wellness-focused, with a 24/7 gym and a complimentary breakfast with whole fruit, granola, and some hot kitchen items.

Studio Commons rooms come with kitchenettes, and guests can end their night with a complimentary local beer or glass of organic wine.

Wylie Hotel

Wylie Hotel
The Wylie is a boutique hotel with cozy, mid-century modern decor.      Adam Goldberg/Wylie Hotel

Located in one of my favorite pockets of Atlanta, Wylie Hotel is a reincarnation of the original 551 Ponce de Leon Hotel. Set on a walkable strip of its namesake street in historic Old Fourth Ward, Atlanta's oldest neighborhood, and steps from the BeltLine Eastside Trail, this chic newcomer is buzzy and busy.

Foodies will appreciate its proximity to Ponce City Market, a landmark food hall, while culture buffs will love the fact that it was the site of Atlanta's first-ever drag show when Mrs. P's, one of the original LGBTQ-friendly bars in the city, occupied its basement. The hotel's current restaurant, named after this former tenant, channels that energy with a DJed Sunday brunch. It's also the original location of the hot MJQ nightclub. And I appreciate the showy sunroom, a recent addition with patio access and plate-glass walls.

The pet-friendly rooms are on the cozier side with dove-gray grid accent walls, hardwood floors, mossy green curtains, and other organic details. But much of this boutique hotel's appeal is in how seriously it takes its former reputation as "the friendly hotel" with a "home-like atmosphere" for its mid-century-modern residential feel.

Epicurean Atlanta

Epicurean Atlanta
Epicurean Atlanta features a rooftop pool and spacious green terrace.      Seamus Payne/Epicurean Atlanta

Many who travel to eat end up in Atlanta, but those in the know stay at the Epicurean Atlanta, a recently opened AAA Four Diamond property whose entire premise is based on foodie culture.

The rooms have subtle elements like butcher-block-inspired wood materials and brushed metals that hint at commercial kitchens. Pantries with curated snacks replace a tired minibar concept in all rooms. And some suites have fun features like a wet bar and a dining table, marble countertops, and a glass shower directly in front of a floor-to-ceiling window.

A rooftop pool plops you right in the great outdoors, where the indoor-outdoor Aerial Kitchen & Bar serves global refreshments and craft cocktails. I like to get day passes here to immerse myself in that resort feeling, then get my sense of place back in the landscaped courtyard and panoramic terrace.

Downstairs, the restaurant Reverence is chef-driven and locally focused, which translates to a seasonal menu executed in a wide-open kitchen. Don't miss the signature cocktails and the biscuits. But my best advice is to check the events calendar for special dinners and tastings, including immersive chef demonstrations and cooking classes in the Epicurean Theatre.

Atlanta Marriott Marquis

Atlanta Marriott Marquis
The elevator inside the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.      Nicholas Widener for Insider

A recent renovation makes this mainstay even more of a perennial choice in downtown Atlanta. Designed by the celebrity architect John C. Portman — our city's own — the hotel has a 50-plus-story open atrium where guests can make a grand entrance after arriving at the Peachtree Center MARTA station, to which this hotel has an indoor connection.

The 1,663 refurbished rooms are exactly as expected from this brand: clean, contemporary, and minimalistic. The Stay Well rooms are geared toward guests with allergies and have features like air purification, circadian lighting, and more

The biggest bonus of staying at this iconic hotel, though, is its host of amenities. While the two Tesla charging stations are great for a select few, I'm all about the concierge lounge on the 42nd floor for views and vibes that lend themselves to an inspiring work session. Plus, it's a preferred hotel of the Georgia Aquarium, which offers VIP packages, and it's blocks away from the aquarium, Centennial Olympic Park, and the World of Coca-Cola.

Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center

Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center
The Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center features downtown views of the Skyview Ferris wheel and more.      Nicholas Widener for Insider

This hotel brand has enmeshed itself in the fabric of Atlanta, from its property at The Battery overlooking Truist Stadium to this one downtown, the Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center.

Like its OTP sister, this 1,067-room hotel features unique views — you can choose from rooms overlooking the downtown skyline, Centennial Olympic Park, or CNN's atrium.

A skybridge inside links the hotel to the State Farm Arena and the Georgia World Congress Center, one of Atlanta's many major convention centers and among the largest in the country. If you're in Atlanta for a sporting event at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, this is where you'll want to be, as you can easily walk back to the hotel after an Atlanta Falcons game or an Atlanta United FC soccer game.

The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta

The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta
The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta is nearby Centennial Olympic Park and the Georgia Aquarium.      Nicholas Widener for Insider

While the brand's name is synonymous with luxury, in Atlanta the Ritz Carlton is also hailed for access and service. A nearby MARTA stop puts the city within reach, and the aquarium, Centennial Olympic Park, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and Georgia State University are practically at the hotel's doorstep.

Inside, the newly renovated rooms are posh, decorated in soothing tones of gray and brown and equipped with such niceties as marble floors and bathrooms, a Nespresso machine, and bright downtown views.

Locals like me visit this hotel for Jittery Joe's coffee, live music at Lumen Bar, and special occasions at the steakhouse, AG.

Bellyard Hotel

Bellyard Hotel
Bellyard is a boutique hotel with a popular terrace bar.      Nicholas Widener for Insider

Bellyard is a 161-room boutique hotel in the Interlock district in glitzy West Midtown. I love the cushioned nooks built into the rooms' windows — it's enough to make you hope for a rainy day. Lots of built-in storage provides an urban feel, and the dramatic geometric carved-wood statement walls are great reminders that Atlanta is, in fact, a city in the forest.

At the light-filled Drawbar on the third-floor terrace, take your pick of all three of Atlanta's skylines (Buckhead, midtown, and downtown) to gaze upon. It offers lighter snacks including local-loved Saint Germain French Bakery & Cafe's pastries, macarons, and chocolates. A pool is said to be in the works.


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