Nobu Hotel & Restaurant Atlanta delivers on its brand promise.
When I heard Nobu Hotel Atlanta was opening, I knew it was big news. I recognized the name (mainly from mentions in movies, I’ll confess) and heard Robert De Niro had a role in the brand. How could it not be cool? So when the 152-room property, Nobu’s 15th location, opened its doors in Buckhead, I had to check it out. It lived up to the hype. Here’s why.
The location: Situated a stone’s throw from Phipps Plaza, the hotel anchors Buckhead’s new, luxury mixed-use development, One Phipps Plaza. Walk to high-end shopping and the newly opened food hall Citizens Market, which is right across the green space and plaza from the hotel’s front doors.
The design: Step through the front doors of the hotel, and a sense of calm falls over you. It could be the soothingly illuminated wooden folding screen with handcrafted abstract flower petals that descend from the ceiling or the dark slate, teakwood and mood lighting that reduces visual stimuli to the brain. Whatever it is, the moment I walked in, I felt more air enter my lungs. Designed by New York City-based Rockwell Group, the hotel takes inspiration from nature and Japanese arts and crafts in a combination that is modern and minimalist, yet warm. Wood tones, Japanese ikebana arrangements and abstract art adorn the public spaces. Guest elevators open to reveal red and gold textured resin walls with a black brushstroke reminiscent of the “O” in the Nobu logo. Room corridors are moody, with carpets inspired by folded silk and glowing room signage next to traditional Japanese woodblock prints. Each corridor dead ends into a folded paper art piece reminiscent of an obi sash or fan. My favorite artwork was a rhombus-shaped cluster of Japanese Raku ceramic pottery on the fifth floor. Inside guestrooms, simplicity is king with grass cloth wall coverings, sleek wood built-ins, white linens and lantern-like light fixtures. One of the few pops of color comes from the lounge chairs upholstered in an orange patterned fabric. The black and gray bathroom is warmed up with a custom wood screen shielding the toilet. It’s the kind of room you feel like you could retreat to for days and exit from in a Zen-like state.
The food: One of the biggest draws of the property is its 10,000-squarefoot restaurant on the hotel’s main floor where a menu curated by the world-renowned Chef Nobu Matsuhisa serves Japanese cuisine with Peruvian influences. Beginning with cold dishes such as yellowtail with jalapeno, “chu-toro truffle carpaccio” and “tiradito Nobu style,” guests experience artistically prepared sashimi with Latin American flavors such as cilantro and rocoto chili paste. The menu also offers crunchy tacos (choose from tuna, salmon, lobster, wagyu, tomato ceviche or caviar nori), kushiyaki skewered meats, nigiri and sashimi and tempura. The main hot dishes bring some of the classic plates Nobu has become famous for, including black cod with miso. Dessert delivers more expert creations, including a tableside flambéed baked Alaska with guava gelato and Valrhona chocolate fondant cake bento box with matcha gelato. Yum. I expected Nobu to have an “air” about it, but the dining experience was casual and fun with an eclectic crowd ranging from dressed-up couples to birthday groups. What’s more, our server was an expert in her recommendations and answered novice questions eagerly and without judgment, reminding us of the Japanese ritual to never pour your own sake.
NOBU HOTEL ATLANTA
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.