I enter from the side entrance on Peachtree Street and have to carry my suitcase down a flight of stairs to the lobby – the main entrance, flanked by numerous staff, is round the corner. The person who checks me in is bright, breezy and enthusiastic. The lobby is smart and sophisticated. This is the only five-star luxury hotel in the Downtown area, and the sense of refinement in comparison to other hotels in the area is palpable.
The hotel has an excellent location in the centre of Downtown, opposite the Peachtree Center MARTA (metro) stop with a connection to the airport, close to banks and other business offices and within walking distance of the Centennial Olympic Park, with the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, Center for Civil and Human Rights and the CNN Center. It’s also close to the Atlanta Streetcar circular transit system and only minutes away from a main north-south highway.
I visit on a weekend, so the clientele is mainly local couples and single businesspeople. The dignified ground floor lounge and first-floor Atlanta Grill restaurants are a cut above the surrounding competition in terms of sophistication. Because the hotel is a tall tower, it feels smaller than its 444 rooms. Given that the building is an unattractive 1980s block on the outside, the inside feel is an achievement.
My room on the 19th floor is quiet, with a good view of the surrounding skyline; the marble bathroom feels luxurious. I’m surprised to have to call down to reception for slippers and bathroom amenities, however, and the air-conditioning system makes the sealed room feel dry and stuffy at night.
The hotel seems to have a surplus of staff, which is great if you want to feel attended to at all times, but slightly wearing if you like solitude. At breakfast and dinner I was asked at least five times “how everything was” and I got bored repeating myself. Top marks for service go to the team of front-entrance staff, who field numerous requests for parking, taxis and use of the hotel’s wonderful Cadillac Escalade, a house car available for trips of four miles or less on a pre-bookable or immediate basis subject to availability.
The a la carte breakfast offerings were much better than the weekend buffet. I had the steel-cut oats with milk and brown sugar for US$8 (Dh29) and a toasted muffin with cream cheese for $4 (Dh14.5). Orange juice and a cappuccino cost $5 (Dh18.3) each. I had dinner at the Atlanta Grill, which has been relaunched since my visit. The starter of steamed Canadian mussels in a fennel, garlic and butter sauce, with toasted bread, was rich and satisfying ($14; Dh51.4). The New York striploin steak ($38; Dh139.5) was disappointing, as it was tough and served on a corn and mushroom sauce.
The location, doormen and house car.
The overbearing service; there’s also no spa or pool.
A good, comfortable base.
The bottom line
Double rooms at the Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta (www.ritzcarlton.com) cost from $236 (Dh866.7) per night including taxes, room only.
This review was done at the invitation of the hotel.