With the variety of lodging options available in Atlanta, choosing where to lay your head at night can be an overwhelming decision. But rest assured that no matter which area of the city you choose to make your headquarters, there is certainly something to suit your needs.
As a major convention city, metro Atlanta is capable of accommodating hordes of visitors. It has more than 94,000 rooms at 783 properties, including budget digs, bed-and-breakfast lodgings, and bastions of penultimate luxury. The choices listed here -- offering good value in several different price brackets -- are in parts of the city that travelers frequent most often. If you have trouble finding a vacancy at the places listed here, look to the suburbs, where nearly every chain is represented. If you have a car and you're near one of the major interstates, getting into the city from the suburbs should be relatively simple, especially if you avoid rush hours, which last from around 6:30 to 9:30am and 4 to 7:30pm.
Although 100% occupancy is a rarity in Atlanta, this is a major convention city; booking well in advance assures you of a room in the hotel of your choice. Many accommodations, especially those downtown hotels that cater to business travelers, are at full capacity during the standard Monday-through-Friday business week, with more open beds and reduced rates offered over the weekend.
Rates -- The hotels are classified using the following categories: Very Expensive: more than $200 per night; Expensive: $150 to $200; Moderate: $100 to $150; Inexpensive: less than $100. All rates are for double occupancy (two people in one room) and are subject to change.
The prices listed in this guide are "rack rates" -- the highest that the hotel will charge. If you ask about discounts and packages, or if you book through a travel agent, you can often do better than these posted rates. Reduced-price packages may include extras such as meals, parking, theater tickets, and golf fees, and lower rates are often available for seniors, families, and active-duty military personnel. Preferential rates are also often available when you reserve via toll-free reservation numbers or the Internet. Websites and toll-free telephone information are supplied in all applicable listings.
Any extras included in the rates (for example, breakfast or other meals) are listed for each property. A 15% tax will be added onto your hotel or motel bill within the city of Atlanta and Fulton County (8% sales tax plus 7% room tax); the rates listed below do not include that tax. If you have a car, be sure to consider the price of parking in the hotel garage at an average of $25 per overnight. Finally, remember that hotel rates often increase during special events.
Bed & Breakfasts -- Bed & Breakfast Atlanta (tel. 800/967-3224 or 404/875-0525; www.bedandbreakfastatlanta.com) is a free reservations service that has been carefully screening facilities in the Atlanta area since 1979. Its list comprises more than 100 homes and inns; all accommodations have private bathrooms. Among the offerings are a turreted Queen Anne-style Victorian home with nine fireplaces, located near the Carter Library; a delightful honeymoon cottage with a Jacuzzi in Druid Hills; and an elegant 1920s Tudor-style home in Buckhead. The company even has kosher homes on its roster. All rates include continental breakfast, in many cases with more than the usual pastry and coffee. To make sure that you get a room in your top B&B choice, make sure you reserve as early as possible. Call during office hours, which are Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm.
B&B rates run the gamut from $90 to $399 (the latter for the überluxurious owner's suite in a Midtown EarthCraft property). Rates during special events may be higher. Weekly and monthly rates are available (in guesthouses and apartments) for long-term visitors. American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, and Visa are accepted.
Downtown -- Downtown hotels no longer cater primarily to the business/convention traveler because the area now offers so much for the leisure traveler, too, including the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola, the CNN Center, Centennial Olympic Park, Imagine It! Children's Museum of Atlanta, and the Georgia Dome.
Midtown -- Travelers interested in the cultural highlights of Atlanta will appreciate the hotel choices in Midtown, an area that's home to the Woodruff Arts Center, the High Museum of Art, the Fox Theatre, and the Margaret Mitchell House. Joggers and other outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the proximity to Piedmont Park and the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
Buckhead -- There's something for everyone in Buckhead -- shoppers, foodies, history buffs, business travelers, and night owls will all find their niche. The neighborhood's offerings and the ease of getting around (a free community shuttle allows access to popular Buckhead hotels, shopping malls, and restaurants) make Buckhead the ideal place to stay. A word about dining: There are so many fine restaurants and nightspots in Buckhead that it's foolish to limit yourself to hotel fare. There are three notable exceptions, however -- the Westin Buckhead Atlanta, the Mansion on Peachtree, and InterContinental Buckhead all have outstanding restaurants.
Virginia-Highland & Inman Park -- Virginia-Highland is a marvelous choice for visitors, as it's within easy walking distance of shops, galleries, and restaurants. The only problem is that there are few accommodations available because this is a mostly residential area. Nearby Inman Park, though not as convenient to attractions, is equally charming.
Decatur/Lake Claire -- Originally a streetcar suburb of Atlanta, the quaint and quiet Lake Claire neighborhood is becoming a popular residential area. Don't waste your time looking for the namesake lake -- it doesn't exist.
Stone Mountain Park -- Stone Mountain Park, just 16 miles east of downtown Atlanta, is a recreation area with 3,200 acres of lakes and wooded parkland. It's a major tourist destination, visited by more than four million people annually. Note: There's a $10 parking fee upon entering the park.
Druid Hills/Emory University -- Though it's not a happening section of town in terms of restaurants or attractions, this area, east of Midtown and Buckhead, offers good value for your hotel dollar. And if you have a car, the lodgings in the listings are only about a 10-minute drive from the center of things.
Duluth -- Located in Gwinnett County, one of the fastest-growing counties in the country, Duluth manages to retain its small-town charm just minutes from the hustle and bustle of the big city. You'll find lots of shopping here, including the Mall of Georgia and Gwinnett Place Mall. Duluth's Buford Highway is also home to an incredible variety of ethnic restaurants, which draw diners from Atlanta looking for everything from Korean to Vietnamese to Caribbean cuisine.
Airport -- There are more than three dozen hotels near the airport, most of them well-known chains. If you're flying out very early or in very late, a room in this area can be quite convenient. Although most airport-hotel guests are business travelers, it's not out of the question for leisure travelers to choose accommodations here. Weekend rates are often very low, and many of the hotels offer free shuttles to the Airport MARTA station, making it easy to reach other parts of the city. Buckhead, for instance, is about 35 minutes away by MARTA rail. The hotels we list are three of the finest, but there are numerous other chains in the area.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.