It’s fairly rare to stay in a city landmark, but if you’re visiting Atlanta, you can do so in one of its true landmarks when you book a room at the Clermont Motor Hotel. It’s instantly recognizable from the street because of its iconic radio tower – complete with the hotel’s name in big neon letters – on the roof.
Located neither downtown nor downtown, but in Poncey Highland — a boho neighborhood of the city near the University District and large Piedmont Park — the Clermont has been a hotel for a couple of centuries, making it fairly historic by American standards power.
Converted from an apartment block to a hotel, the Clermont was originally called the Clermont Motor Lodge – rumored to be a less than respectable rest stop where Al Capone was apparently a regular guest.
Once left to decay, the hotel was bought and completely renovated by its current owners a decade ago.
Also, it’s the only hotel I know of that has a strip club in the basement.
One of the trendiest and chicest places to stay in Atlanta, the Clermont is not a cheap buy. The hotel is thoughtfully designed with well appointed rooms and a great ambiance. Great if you’re an out-of-town visitor wanting something different and special. If you’re more of a local then it’s definitely an “occasion” hotel.
The Clermont has 94 rooms of varying types, determined by size and included amenities, but all have been finished in a retro “swinging ’60s” style — giving it an almost hip vibe. On the other hand, the beds are large and comfortable, the bathrooms are large and, overall, modern technology is definitely at work here.
It has received numerous recognitions for both the style of the building and the visitor experience, including The Loved By Guests Award for 2021 – a year in which it was also officially inducted into the American Register of Historic Places.
The Clermont is one of the few hotels I’ve stayed in where the entire rooftop is a cocktail bar. The roof with its artificial grass floor offers a wide range of cocktails.
At the same time, there’s also good food from the bar menu – as well as fantastic views of Atlanta, especially at night, for anyone who spends their time out there. It also seems to be a great meeting point for travelers from all over the world (well, it’s, self-proclaimed, a car hotel).
Though it does have a brasserie — the famous Tiny Lou’s, which is certainly worth considering if you want to hole up at the hotel — the Clermont doesn’t actually offer breakfast as such, so you can either get that from one of the numerous dining options in nearby or for which you can purchase items at the hotel cafe.
There is a welcome drink upon registration and free complimentary coffee in the room.
The Residents Lounge inside the hotel on the ground floor – not to be confused with the Clermont Lounge (which we’ll get to later!) – and it has a coffee/gift shop which incidentally serves free coffee to residents. It’s always quite busy and you have no doubt that Clermont is a place of action.
There is a good concierge service and the staff is very friendly, but it took me three attempts to get a bellhop to our room to take our luggage, although I was told each time one would be there immediately.
There is valet parking — but I’d also question the need if you have a car, as there’s plenty of free parking within a hundred and fifty yards of the street at the side exit of the hotel. So save yourself the $40 a day with a short walk.
From USD 170 + taxes for the quadruple room with four single beds.
From $202 + taxes for a king Napoleon room.
The Clermont’s location makes it a good base for exploring some of Atlanta’s well-known tourist highlights. Here lived and worked Martin Luther King and the home of Coca-Cola. You can go behind the scenes at the factory and see how one of the world’s most popular drinks is made.
It’s also famous for being where the classic film Gone With the Wind was filmed and where the Living Dead and streaming TV sensation Stranger Things was filmed. The world’s tallest granite peak, the aptly named Stone Mountain, and the diverse park surrounding it are also just a short drive away – as are in the opposite direction both Downtown and Midtown, each with a great variety of restaurants and watering holes.
Finally, although not really part of the hotel itself, but definitely nearby as it is located in the basement of the hotel is the famous “Clermont Lounge” making it the only luxury hotel I have ever stayed in, the one Strip has club in its basement.
Surprisingly, this isn’t what you’d expect from a joint of this nature. It is well known that ladies who might have been expected to have retired as dancers are still finding employment. You’ll be well appreciated by the bettors – who knows what awaits them in the Clermont Lounge.
All in all, the “Clermont Lounge” had a surprisingly warm and wholesome vibe – (which I think is somewhat at odds with the nature of such an establishment) mitigated by interspersing dance routines with karaoke performances in the lounge’s other half bar.
The Clermont is comfortable, friendly and different – with a touch of romance. You could easily get fancier, but would you have just as much fun?