Home Destinations Here’s where to stay, shop and eat for a luxury getaway to Atlanta – and you won’t need a car

Here’s where to stay, shop and eat for a luxury getaway to Atlanta – and you won’t need a car

by Jan Schroder
rootop pool at Nobu

Visiting attractions and sightseeing are awesome, but sometimes you just want to shop until you drop when you travel.

How about a stay in a brand-new luxury hotel in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood? The hotel features gorgeous rooms, a rooftop bar and a restaurant with the best sushi ever. You can also hop in one of the hotel’s two Porsche Taycans to take you to any location within a three-mile radius.

And you’ll be within walking distance of several restaurants and Atlanta’s two best malls, with more than 250 stores. And how about an appointment with a personal stylist at Saks?

Enjoy a luxury stay at Nobu Atlanta

lobby of Nobu Buckhead
The lobby of Nobu Atlanta. (Photo by Barbara Craft)

Oh, the irony. I grew up near Phipps Plaza and had patronized the upscale shopping center for years, but I could not find the new Nobu Hotel. After driving circles through the parking garage, a helpful security guard directed me to go around Saks Fifth Avenue where I found the entrance.

The hotel has a small, yet inviting lobby and 152 rooms. You have a choice of valet or self-parking, but with my recent challenge with directions, I figured I better let a pro handle my car and handed it over to the valet.

view from Nobu Atlanta
The view from my room at Nobu Atlanta. See why Atlanta is called the City of Trees?

I stayed in a Nobu Premium Room, which had an armoire, large bathroom, Nespresso coffee machine, plush robes and Natura Bisse amenities. One of the best things, besides the huge, comfortable bed, was the view outside my windows, which overlooked a residential area of Buckhead dominated by beautiful green trees.

I saw my friend Hope’s room, a Nobu Zen Suite, which included yukata robes, which I learned are a type of light cotton kimono, and large bottles of liquor above the mini bar.

A Nobu Zen Suite. (Photo by Barbara Craft)

This is the first Nobu in Atlanta, a luxury brand that was founded by the Chef Nobu Matsuhis, Robert De Niro and Meir Teper.

I learned that Nobu Matsuhisa opened his first restaurant, Matsuhisa, in Los Angeles in 1987. Robert De Niro loved it and at his urging, Nobu opened a second location in New York in 1994. There are now more than 50.

The Nobu Hotel hotel brand started in Las Vegas in 2013. There are now 17 locations around the world.

Indulge in fresh sushi at the renowned Nobu

The sushi bar at Nobu. (Photo by Barbara Craft)

I eyed the remaining slices of yellowtail tuna with jalapeno still on the plate. No one else at my table of six seemed inclined to eat more, so I took action and grabbed the remaining slices. I have no regrets as it was the best tuna I’d ever had.

Our group was eating dinner at the restaurant at Nobu Atlanta. Fortunately, I didn’t have to make any decisions as the food continued to arrive. Items included edamame, sashimi salad with Matsuhisa dressing, black cod with miso and rock shrimp tempura. After I had eaten my weight in sushi, a giant basket of gorgeously presented sushi rolls appeared.

The only issue with this kind of dining is you rarely know how many courses are coming, so it’s hard to determine how much to each of each one. I once went to a group dinner in Spain where there were 14 courses. I gave up around #9.

I had already devoured several courses when this gorgeous dish showed up.

Everything was delicious, although the tuna remained my favorite, and for once, I did not regret my gluttony.

Nobu Atlanta is also open for breakfast, serving some traditional breakfast items, and Coddled Egg Toban-Yaki, which is spinach, dry miso, EVOO, garlic chips and scallion on toasted bao buns.

Hit the stores at Phipps Plaza and Lenox Square

A Fifth Avenue Club dressing suite at Saks.

Nobu is right behind Phipps, so just stroll over and let the shopping spree begin. You’ll find shops that range from J. Jill to Frontgate, Nordstrom, Tiffany, Tory Burch, Givenchy and  Balenciaga. Fourteen more upscale stores will be opening soon. These include Jimmy Choo, Fendi, Etro and Alexander McQueen.

Phipps Plaza opened in 1969 as Atlanta’s first multi-level enclosed mall and has been known for its upscale offerings every since. (That and for having the most popular Santa in Atlanta. Pre-registration for reservations for appointments open in July and are more coveted that tickets to a Taylor Swift concert.)

If you’re ready to call in professional help from a personal stylist, make an appointment at the Fifth Avenue Club at Saks. You’ll be ushered into a private suite and shown a selection of clothes customized for you. The appointments are free and there is no obligation to buy.

This location of Saks is the number two location in terms of revenue, behind New York. Pretty astounding but proof to me that they know how to stock what people want to buy.

Just for fun, my friend Hope and I decided to try a reenactment of “Pretty Woman” (minus the thigh-high boots, midriff-baring outfit and wild hair) by walking into Versace, where we clearly didn’t fit the target market or demographic. The salespeople said hello but weren’t overly attentive. We took a peek at a four-figure-priced bathrobe then strolled out.

I thought about returning and holding up my bag of two dresses (on sale) from J. Jill and yelling out triumphantly “Big mistake!” but I wasn’t sure the young saleslady would get the reference. And the cost of both of those dresses wouldn’t buy me a sequin in that shop.

driver at Nobu Atlanta
Our driver, or as Nobu calls them, Porsche Pilot, drove us across the street in style to Lenox Square.

When you’re ready to make your way to mall #2, Lenox Square, you can walk diagonally across the street. But for a more fun form of transportation, take one of the electric Porsch Taycan House Cars that will take Nobu guests anywhere within a three-mile radius.

We hopped into the back seat while our driver told us a bit about the car, including the fact it costs more than $200,000.

Lenox is a much larger mall, with close to 200 tenants. Fun fact: it opened in 1959 as an open-air mall. It bears zero resemblance to how it used to look then.

Here you’ll find Bloomingdales, Neiman-Marcus, J. Crew, Banana Republic, Anthropologie, Zara and dozens more stores, including Burberry, Cartier, David Yurman and Louis Vuitton. There’s also an Apple store. While Atlanta has several Macy’s locations, the dress department at this Macy’s is the best, IMO.

Book a massage and get a day pass to Life Time Buckhead

Life Time Buckhead exteior
The five-story Life Time Buckhead, an athletic country club. (Photo courtesy of Simon)

Our group got off the elevator to the sound of a champagne cork popping – one of my favorite sounds on the planet. In that second I realized this place bore little resemblance to my YMCA.

Life Time Buckhead bills itself as a “healthy living and entertainment destination” and it lives up to its name, with 127,000 square feet housed in a former department store. It has a coworking space, huge gym area, kid’s area, chiropractor on staff, tennis and pickleball courts, salon and much more. Interested in taking a class? They offer 170 a week.

You can buy a day pass to work out. Or here’s a great tip – book a massage or other treatment in the spa and you can stay at the club for the day with access to all areas except for the two rooftop pools, which require an additional fee.

Dine on dishes from linguini to lobster at Atlanta’s newest food hall

One of the entrances to Citizens Market. (Photo courtesy of Simon)

The newest addition to the dining scene at Phipps Plaza is Citizens Market, just steps away from Nobu Atlanta. The 25,000-square-foot space has a full bar and eight chef-driven fast casual food concepts from burgers to sushi to fried chicken sandwiches.

There’s plenty of seating inside, but if the weather is nice, step outside to a table or relax in The Green, a large area with turf and white Adirondack chairs. A mural done by the students at the Atlanta location of Savannah School of Art & Design adds color to the space.

Located just outside Citizens Market and the mall entrance, The Green is a welcome addition to Phipps Plaza.

Other restaurants at Phipps include Davios, Ecco Buckhead and Café Bistro at Nordstrom. An excellent choice for breakfast or lunch is Alon’s Bakery & Market, a European style market that serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Be sure to check out the pastry counter.

My husband, Chris, is on a quest for the best almond croissant, so when I saw they had two types, I had to get him one of each.

In addition to the food court at Lenox Square, where you have 15 options for a quick meal, there are several restaurants including Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen, sweetgreen, Cousins Main Lobster and Neiman Marcus Café.

I recommend NoRTH Italia, located to the right of the main entrance. There’s a nice outdoor dining area and a sleek interior. Every dish I’ve had there has been delicious.

Catch a movie at AMC Theatre or play at LEGO Discovery Center.

I loved seeing the Lego rendition of several landmarks in Atlanta.

There’s a really nice AMC Theatre in Phipps Plaza with 14 screens, bar area and leather recliners. It’s been rated one of the best movie theaters in Atlanta.

If the kids are along, you’ll want to visit the new and improved Lego Discovery Center. There were two highlights there for me. The Kingdom Quest ride has laser guns so you can shoot the bad guys and rack up points. And the giant LEGO Miniland with replicas of Atlanta landmarks.

Jan Schroder, Editor-in-chief

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