From the scenic rooftop to the sultry basement, once you check in at Hotel Clermont, you won’t want to leave
When dreaming up a surprise for my sister’s 25th birthday last summer, I kept returning to a sister staycation at Hotel Clermont. Maggie is 10 years my junior, so I knew I needed something hip enough for her yet swanky enough for me. As an experienced traveler, I’ve developed quite the list of accommodation expectations over the years: attentive staff, stylish rooms, excellent food options and a sociable atmosphere, to name a few. Hotel Clermont ticks all of those boxes.
I booked the hotel’s clever “the first one is on us” offer for our overnight visit. It comes with one rooftop drink ticket per person; an amuse-bouche and dessert at the hotel’s terrace level French-inspired restaurant, Tiny Lou’s; complimentary access to the landmark Clermont Lounge; and a 24-hour check-out period. That last perk was the most intriguing. If I was going to start my evening with rooftop drinks only to bookend it with beers at Atlanta’s oldest strip club, I was definitely not setting a next morning alarm.
Maggie and I arrived at the hotel around 4 p.m. on a rare, pleasantly temperate summer afternoon. The Palm Springs-chic lobby with its peacock chairs and mod-inspired sofas were a postcard perfect greeting that felt like we had entered a different era. While the building went up in 1924 as apartments, it was later revamped into a hotel in 1939. It’s heyday, however, began in 1968 when The Clermont Lounge, the city’s first strip club, was born. Later, the hotel fell into disrepair, eventually sitting empty for nearly nine years. That’s when Oliver Hospitality stepped up with a more than $20 million renovation that brought the landmark to today’s standards. The hotel’s decor, with its clean lines, kitschy yet chic wallpaper, pop art and geometric carpeting, is a nod to a bygone time while keeping it contemporary, too. The welcome beverages—Pabst Blue Ribbon beers—further drive home the hotel’s we’re-here-for-a-good-time vibes.
We made our way to our room, a king-standard with ample space for two girls on the town to get dolledup, crack open our beers and decide on our first stop: the rooftop for sunset drinks. Here, under the iconic “Hotel Clermont” marquis tower, AstroTurf offers year-round greenspace, and the bar offers year-round drinks. We opted for the specialty: frosé, the ideal millennial pink, frozen wine refreshment. Rattan chairs and benches face Ponce de Leon for views of Midtown and surrounding neighborhoods. We toasted to 25, took a sisterselfie and enjoyed the scenery.
Next, we headed downstairs to Hotel Clermont’s on-site restaurant, Tiny Lou’s. The ambiance is that of a French brasserie where cafe tables and cane-backed chairs complement oversized, tufted caramel leather booths. Helmed by chef Jeb Aldrich, the menu is a surprising blend of French-meets-American cuisine such as seasonal crêpes punctuated with Southern accents like Vidalia onion soup. Make sure to save room for chef Claudia Martinez’s sweet creations. Whether the dessert cart rolls over bearing a ruby chocolate concoction or another of her specialties, ending with a sweet is a must.
While at this point in the evening we could have had after dinner drinks at the bustling lobby bar, we decided to go to the stuffy basement for a different kind of nightcap: beers and a show at The Clermont Lounge. I had never been to the lounge before, and my sister insisted she be with me for my first visit. We stayed for one drink and a few dances, but the smoky air choked the lively atmosphere, plus a plush bed was waiting for us just a few floors up, and the sooner we rested our eyes, the sooner we could find ourselves back at Tiny Lou’s for the storied brunch complete with Martinez’s cinnamon rolls. We were ladies with priorities.
The best part of a staycation at Hotel Clermont is once you check in, there’s no reason to leave the property. You could take a quick jaunt down the street to Ponce City Market or head to the adjacent Poncey-Highland neighborhood to explore, but with several bars and restaurants at your fingertips, why would you? This is a staycation after all. Kick up your heels, relax and stay a while at Hotel Clermont.
789 Ponce de Leon Ave. N.E.
Wellness columnist at Simply Buckhead and dog columnist at Atlanta Pet Life. Lifestyle writer specializing in women's interests, travel, people and interiors.