Chattanooga, Tennessee

Photo: Jeff Gunn via flickr

Hello, Chattanooga. It’s nice to finally meet you. You’re embarrassed—quite embarrassed, actually—to admit that this is your first time in the Scenic City. Its gorgeous location, outdoorsy vibe, and revitalized downtown have been beckoning you for years. A bustling tech scene and a green urban policy make it a no-brainer. It took a unique hotel to finally lure you to Southeast Tennessee, though.

Chattanooga sits along the Tennessee River at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Due to its location—roughly equidistant between Atlanta, Knoxville, Nashville, and Birmingham—the city grew as a transportation hub. It was vital for the Confederates during the Civil War, and it became known as the Dynamo of Dixie when it was a booming industrial town in the 1940s. But Chattanooga, similar to so many cities its size, was in a downward spiral by the 1970s.

Things didn’t begin to turn around until 2002. The results are a true renaissance. An exciting art scene. An expanded aquarium. Environmentally friendly transportation. Fast internet service. Restored bridges. Revived historic sites. Waterfront parks. Plus natural wonders, including Lookout Mountain and Ruby Falls, are more accessible than ever. People are flocking to Chattanooga.

Photo: The Dwell Hotel

The Dwell Hotel is one of the projects that developed during this time. It was built as Fort James during the Civil War and was eventually turned into a hotel in 1909. That hotel didn’t last, but the brick-and-limestone building did. In 2016, it was given a midcentury modern facelift. Bold art. Graphic wallpaper. Polished brass. Vintage furniture. A cheery daytime restaurant. A swanky cocktail bar. The retro-chic hotel became an instant hit—even with locals.

The hotel is even cuter in person. Pale pink walls, a salmon-colored sofa, and brightly patterned chairs greet you in the lobby. The Rainbow Room, off to the side, has a grass wall. Syrup & Eggs will serve breakfast—order a Serious B.S. (Biscuit Sandwich)—anywhere on the first floor. While Matilda Midnight features turquoise accents and creative drinks (the Justice is made with pink gin) under a starry ceiling. You’ll be hanging out down here a lot.

The final pieces of this cool hotel are the rooms. There are only 16 of them. Each one has a name (the Flamingo, the Palm Springs, the Tiki) and unique decor. Expect a similar vibe—colorful walls, restored furniture, curated art—to downstairs throughout them. Black-and-white-tiled bathrooms have separate rainfall showers and soaking tubs. C.O. Bigelow bath products are in them, too. Chocolate-covered Oreos from the Hot Chocolatier (reminder to find that while walking around) are part of the turn-down service. Plus the Mad Priest pour-over coffee is provided to help you wake up in the morning. Now that you’re settled, it’s finally time to get to know Chattanooga.

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