Home ReviewsHotels and Resorts The Candler Hotel: Atlanta’s Most Sophisticated and Historic Place to Stay and Dine

The Candler Hotel: Atlanta’s Most Sophisticated and Historic Place to Stay and Dine

by Lisa Mowry
entrance to Candler Hotel

It’s hard to imagine a hotel more elegant than The Candler Hotel, housed in a Beaux-Arts style building from 1906 and made of Georgia marble literally floor to ceiling.

The location in downtown Atlanta makes it an ideal homebase to explore the nearby attractions – or as a glamorous staycation for locals.

Consider this fun fact: Coca-Cola founder Asa Candler helped design the structure himself and ran his iconic company there before moving to midtown…AND, the secret formula for Coca-Cola was housed here in a safe – which guests can visit (more on that later.)

After decades when the building was home to a bank and other offices, it was redesigned and reopened in 2018 as a boutique hotel through Hilton’s Curio Collection.

woman in lobby of Candler Hotel making peach drinks
Champagne topped with some peach puree as a welcome drink? Why yes, thank you.

We checked in at 4 p.m. on a Friday, and true to its reviews (the hotel is ranked #1 on TripAdvisor for Atlanta), every person from the valet to check-in clerk to manager was so friendly and helpful.

Cookies and water are available in the lobby, but even better, guests are greeted by a lovely woman making peach cocktails. This champagne cocktail – flavored with some peach puree as a nod to Georgia’s famous fruit – is just the right refreshment to sip on while wandering through the impressive first floor.

elevator bank at Candler hotel
The original elevators from 1906 are full of vintage charm, from the “Next Car Up” signs to bronze doors.

All 265 guest rooms have been completely reconfigured as modern bedrooms with a touch of Art Deco mixed in. Bathrooms have tile floors and a pink-marble vanity, continuing the theme of bygone elegance. And for anyone who’s recently stayed in a new hotel with paper-thin walls, rest assured that the thick walls and plush carpeting of an older hotel provide a quiet advantage.

lobby of Candler Hotel
Furnishings in the lobby sitting area are more modern, with cozy dark colors and contemporary light fixtures, while still giving an homage to the roaring ‘20s and other eras the building helped usher in.

Sign up at the front desk for a tour of the hotel given by one of the affable staff. You’ll take marble stairs up and down to view all the original architectural features – from bronze mailboxes to carved water fountains to Tiffany windows, and you’ll find features from previous decades.

The basement floor was originally built to accommodate businessmen (no women working back then), with shoe-shine stands, a 15-chair barber shop, and even Roman baths.

guest room at candler hotel

Dark floral draperies and Art Deco-influenced beds bring a historic vibe to the guest rooms, while still feeling fresh and up-to-date. Bathroom vanities are made with pink marble to continue the marble theme, yet add a feminine touch.

It’s now home to a fitness center for guests, with other areas of the hotel dedicated to small meeting rooms and larger ballrooms for weddings and the like.

Your guide will take you through the working kitchen – always fascinating in itself – to see the actual bank vault from olden days.

former bank vault candler hotel
The hotel offers history tours so that guests can learn about the building, including a behind-the-scenes peek at its special features. You can venture in the actual bank vault where the Coca-Cola formula was kept. Soon this vault will be part of a chef’s table experience.

Yes, this is where the secret Coca-Cola recipe was kept for years, and they have it properly styled with Coca-Cola memorabilia as a nod to Atlanta’s most famous corporate citizen.

There’s a table and chairs set up inside the vault, ready for a new phase offering chef’s table dinners in this storied area.

Speaking of meals, the hotel’s in-house restaurant By George (serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with a swanky brunch on weekends) is such a special part of the Candler experience.

By George restaurant Candler hotel
The hotel’s restaurant By George has acclaim on its own through its chef Hugh Acheson, a James Beard-winning celebrity in the southeast. The large marble columns and crystal chandeliers mesh with contemporary seating.

Banish any stereotypes of bland hotel restaurants. The first-floor location of By George was once home to the Central Bank and Trust (which merged with C&S Bank and then Bank of America), and still has the massive marble columns and picture windows looking onto Peachtree Street from the days of glamorous banks.

James Beard-winning chef Hugh Acheson stepped in to lend his culinary skills and name to the restaurant, choosing a contemporary American menu to please a wide variety of patrons.

by george lounge
Warm colors and a colorful Oriental rug distinguish this seating area in the bar/restaurant area of By George, offsetting the cool marble and high ceilings of the room.

Popular favorites such as shrimp and grits or roasted chicken and vegetables are given an elevated touch, and the eatery is particularly popular for weekend brunch.

The restaurant’s sophisticated bar should be a first stop, with custom cocktails and an impressive wine list. If the setting at By George looks familiar, it’s because Hollywood has taken notice.

downtown atlanta
he lights of downtown Atlanta, including the Georgia-Pacific building, Westin Peachtree Plaza, and Peachtree Center, are part of the scenery from the hotel. Some rooms give a birds-eye view into office buildings and Georgia State University classrooms.

With Atlanta’s popularity as a TV/film location, the hotel and restaurant can be spotted on such popular recent hits as “Ozark” (standing in for a Chicago restaurant) and FX’s “Atlanta,” with some top-secret projects coming soon.

marble staircase
The intricately carved marble in the lobby is the star.

When it’s time to explore downtown, the hotel’s location not far from the attractions make it a good choice when heading to an Atlanta Falcons game, the World of Coca-Cola museum, College Football Hall of Fame, and Centennial Olympic Park. But the biggest treat will be returning to this elegant hotel with its smiling staff and beautiful design to welcome you in, such a civilized nod to history and the golden age of architecture.

Photos and story by Lisa Mowry

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