The Dwell Hotel
From $225 | 123 miles from Atlanta
Directory: Hip, historical, outdoor activities, restaurant, romantic
Chattanooga has garnered a reputation as one of the South’s hippest destinations for music, art, and outdoor adventure, so it’s about time this little river city landed a chic boutique hotel. The retro-inspired Dwell Hotel, which opened last May in the former Stone Fort Inn, is brimming with bright color and midcentury style, bringing vintage charm (and a cool new bar) to Chattanooga’s lively downtown.
Art and architecture
Built in 1909 as a 16-room hotel, the three-story brick and limestone building has welcomed guests for more than a century. Refurbished by local owner Seija Ojanpera, the interior is a cheery midcentury jewel box with authentic period decor in a rainbow of cool-again colors (powder pink, mustard yellow). Ojanpera, a world traveler who landed in Chattanooga in 2009, collected all the art and furnishings along with a friend, scouring eBay and thrift stores for patterned club chairs, funky lamps, and period figurines.
Room and board
Bold wallpaper and art distinguish the guest rooms, which are each decorated in a different theme (find palm fronds in the Tropicana, a Slim Aarons print in the Palm Springs). All include exposed brick walls, memory-foam mattresses by local company Murmaid, and deliciously soft Comphy linens. Most offer inviting fireside sitting nooks and luxurious soaking tubs. Tip: If you spring for a balcony room, ask for one with downtown views.
Drinks and dining
The sunny restaurant, Terra Mae, is a holdover from the hotel’s previous incarnation as a Victorian B&B, but the menu and design underwent a complete overhaul. Sleek white tables and sage-colored banquettes feel bright and fresh, and green wall planters invigorate the original stonework. On the dinner menu, find eclectic dishes like pork osso bucco and a perfectly cooked honey-lavender duck breast. In the morning, a complimentary made-to-order breakfast includes omelets, grits, and biscuits and gravy. But the real scene is at the twinkling, moody bar, Matilda Midnight. The cocktail menu is built around a tarot card theme, and locals pour in to snap up happy hour specials, assorted tapas, and flaming tiki drinks.
Because so many guests visit Dwell for a taste of Chattanooga’s great outdoors (albeit with plush linens waiting at the end of the day), Ojanpera and her team craft made-to-order adventures. The hotel’s staff can map out hiking routes and arrange paddle trips. They’ll even pack picnic lunches or set up an in-room massage afterward. —Mary Logan Bikoff
This article originally appeared in our May 2017 issue.