Atlanta’s Reimagined Hotel Clermont Doesn’t Downplay Its Past
Where staycations are commonplace and basement tomfoolery is celebrated.
The red radio tower on Ponce de Leon Avenue has always been a point of intrigue in Atlanta. The floors beneath have housed everything from 1920s apartments to modern day celebrities. The basement is the origin of some of the city’s seediest stories–a quirky point of civic pride. Word of resident ghosts even spread while the building’s top floors were shut down. But ask any Poncey-Highland regular over the past decade, and you’ll hear the same story: The entire neighborhood daydreamed of the shuttered Clermont Hotel’s potential.
That was the draw for Chef Jeb Aldrich of Hotel Clermont’s signature restaurant Tiny Lou’s in the early stages of the landmark’s revival. “I walked by this building for years. Everyone around here knows the marquee. In a city with a reputation of tearing things down and building again, I was ready to be a part of something that was both old and new.”
Step through the still-marquee-flanked front doors of the reinvented space today, and you’re greeted by just that. With bright, modern prints and an eclectic collection of furnishings, Hotel Clermont’s age is elusive. Art deco mingles with wicker, palms, and florals to create a lobby full of period fluidity that’s anything but forced–though it’s definitely on purpose.
The property set out to embody the neighborhood’s past and future during its two-year restoration. It’s at the apex of city development, with the BeltLine and Ponce City Market in its backyard, but the building is rooted a century of history. When it reopened its doors in 2018, Hotel Clermont playfully married the two in a way you can’t quite put your finger on.
“Nothing’s meant to be obvious to everyone or appeal to everybody,” said Alan Rae, the hotel’s general manager. “It’s subtle little details that appeal to different people and offer an a la carte experience.”
Trendy touches, like local IPAs at check in, a bunkbed room, or pink safes decorated with Outcast lyrics, entice younger travelers and bachelorette parties. Hints of timelessness, like clawfoot bathtubs or floral electric sockets, offer a more elegant experience. Tie it all together with Georgia peach wallpaper and a destination rooftop bar, and it’s obvious why the hotel is a melting pot for visitors and locals alike.
But perhaps the best amenity is down the lobby’s neon-lit staircase. A tasteful tribute to the location’s burlesque past, Tiny Lou’s is a hotel eatery that’s actually teeming with Atlanta residents. Named after a 1950s dancer in the long-shuttered Gypsy Room, the restaurant serves a salute to French-American fare in the comfort of curvy pink booths.
Here, light details, like dancing Lou illustrations hiding under plated portions, flirt with moody design while a classical French kitchen melds with modern cooking in the back; the result is a cozy space churning out seriously good food. Diners opt for the foie gras more often than not, but other brasserie staples, like steak frites and a rich duck consommé, delight as well. Cap it off with pastry chef Claudia Martinez’s brown butter blondie (amusingly dubbed the Ode to Blondie, a well-known dancer in the property’s underbelly) for the classic experience.
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Like Poncey-Highland itself, Hotel Clermont continues to evolve. No visit is alike, and the allure is still alive two years post reopening. Whether you come for a staycation, rooftop sip, or weekend getaway, the building’s layers of history and avant-garde authenticity will put you at ease while keeping you on edge time after time.