For a tranquil trip, Serenbe offers a close-to-home option
More and more, my idea of a blissful getaway is a destination that offers some space, stillness and serenity— maybe a faraway island or isolated mountain retreat. Oftentimes, however, somewhere closer to home is a more realistic option. In fact, I’ve successfully satisfied my craving for “quiet” just 40 miles from Atlanta at Serenbe, where the 1,400 acres of nature-meets-nurture is just what my soul needs to recharge.
Since Atlanta restaurateurs Steve and Marie Nygren established the EarthCraft-certified community in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia, more than a decade ago, Serenbe has been a model for sustainable living—not to mention stunning architecture and a vibrant arts and culture scene. Beginning with one home in 2004, the utopia-like locale has grown to a community of almost 700 residents who reside in one of four Europeanstyle hamlets, each with its own commercial center focused on what the founders see as the elements of a “well-lived” life: arts, agriculture, health and well-being and education. There is also a 25-acre organic farm, a seasonal farmers market and other year-round programming, including lectures, an artist-in-residence program and professional theater company, Serenbe Playhouse, that brings productions to life in the outdoors. Sounds idyllic, right? Luckily, you don’t have to own a home to enjoy the holistic ambiance. Just make a reservation at the 27-room inn and spend a few days soaking it all in.
Situated between six buildings, inn accommodations range from charming rooms in a restored 1905 farmhouse to entire cottages, some original to the property. A total of 23 homes from townhomes and lofts to bungalows are available to book in the Serenbe community. Stays include afternoon tea, evening sweets and a full country breakfast as well as access to all Serenbe’s amenities, including 15 miles of trails through preserved forest and wildflower meadows that connect homes to restaurants and businesses.
If you do one thing during your stay, take your time exploring. Meander the intricate stone labyrinth by the lake, go for a horseback ride or take a tour of Serenbe Farms and feed the animals. As you walk the picture book streets, enjoy a snack from the edible landscaping (blueberry bushes and fig, plum, apple and pear trees) and forget about Father Time.
If some pampering is what you need, head to the Mado district, the community’s newest hamlet focused on wellbeing. In 2019, the central business district was joined by the One Mado building, a three story commercial structure designed by Smith Hanes Studio that brings together a variety of wellness practitioners. The building, centered around a fountain and open-air sculptural staircase designed by Andrew Crawford, is home to a yoga studio, the Gym at Mado with an indoor cycling studio, the expanded Spa at Serenbe and various health related proprietors who are at the ready to assist with everything from GI mapping and chiropractic services to nutritional advice. On the building’s first floor is Halsa, a Scandinavian- inspired restaurant that offers a vegetable-forward menu, fresh juices, build-your-own-bowls and Swedish specials. As the newest addition to the Serenbe culinary scene, Halsa joins a family of well-known, farm-to-table eateries, including The Farmhouse at Serenbe and The Hill, both of which offer locally sourced produce and a seasonally changing menu. Blue Eyed Daisy, Serenbe’s first official culinary retail space to open in 2005, continues to be a favorite for its breakfast and baked goods. The charming meeting spot is also designated as the smallest Silver LEED-certified building in the U.S.—an example of Serenbe’s trailblazing from day one.
Over the past decade and a half, Serenbe has continued to innovate and morph for the greater good, expanding its offerings and growing in size and recognition. The aim is to do this while embracing the founding vision of being a biophilic community where people live fully connected to nature. It is exactly this bond between human and nature that I find myself searching for during my away-from-home retreats nowadays, even if it is just 40 miles away.
The Inn at Serenbe
10950 Hutcheson Ferry Road
Chattahoochee Hills 30268
Giannina S. Bedford is multi-faceted writer and editor. Her work covers design, travel, food and business. She’s penned Simply Buckhead’s home feature since inception and held a variety of editorial roles at the magazine. Her freelance work has appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, USA Today, Virtuoso Life, Hemispheres and TravelandLeisure.com. She also contributes regularly Atlanta Business Chronicle. Fluent in Spanish, Giannina was born in Miami and grew up in Brazil, Chile, Hawaii and Australia. She currently lives in Dunwoody with her two kids and husband.