Atlanta, Georgia

Photo: Hotel Clermont

All eyes are on Atlanta for the Super Bowl this weekend. After two overtime games, the teams—the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots—are set. Mercedes-Benz Stadium, with its retractable roof, is ready. While the city is set to party. So where are you staying in Georgia’s capital during the festivities?

Atlanta wasn’t supposed to become the capital of the Peach State, much less the capital of the wider New South. North Georgia wasn’t settled by Europeans until the early 19th century. Atlanta was founded as a railroad-terminating stop shortly thereafter. Most of the young city was burned to the ground during Sherman’s March to the Sea during the Civil War. While Savannah, Augusta, Louisville, and even Milledgeville were each deemed the capital at one point.

Thanks to its well-established transportation network, the state capital was moved to Atlanta after the Civil War. It eventually became a major organizing center for the civil rights movement. It hosted the Summer Olympic Games. It’s now home to the busiest airport in the world. Atlanta is a model for revitalization.

Photo: Hotel Clermont

So is Hotel Clermont. The landmark building went up as apartments in tony Poncey-Highland, on the east side, in the 1920s. It was converted into a fancy hotel in 1939. But, like the rest of the city, the neighborhood and the hotel fell on hard times. Poncey-Highland declined. The nightclub in the hotel’s basement turned into a strip club. While the place that became known as the Clermont Lounge was forced to close in 2009 after health-code violations continued to stack up.

The property didn’t sit empty for long. The building was purchased. The interior was gutted, save for a few historic elements, including the pink-marble entrance and the terrazzo staircase. The rooms were refurbished with colorful carpets, bold headboards, and provocative art. Vintage finishes were added to the bathrooms. Café Clermont now serves Revelator Coffee and flaky croissants. Cozy nooks, gem tones, and lots of bourbons fill the Lobby Bar. Plus the seedy basement was turned into Tiny Lou’s, a French-American brasserie, that serves better-than-comfort food.

There’s one more spot you need to see, though. The Roof Top has quickly become one of Atlanta’s hot spots. Astroturf, retro furniture, and a food cart litter the big space. Its red-lit tower is visible across the city. The rum-focused bar serves frosé when it’s hot and hot toddies when it’s chillier. Other cocktails arrive in plastic coconuts. While your bill, at the end of the evening, appears in an old cassette-tape case. The seedy motel has reemerged as a dapper boutique hotel. It’s sure to be hopping this weekend.

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