A revitalized Chattanooga hotel, set inside a restored train station

Guests of the Hotel Chalet will be delighted with the railroad-themed accommodations, each decorated with midcentury-inspired furnishings

Interior of a restored train carriage room at the Hotel Chalet

Photography by Matt Kisiday

Formerly a bustling turn-of-the-century train terminal, the Chattanooga Choo Choo has delighted visitors with its Beaux Arts–style grand entrance and unique railroad-themed accommodations since opening as a hotel in 1973. But after 50 years, it was time for a $19 million makeover: Enter the reimagined Hotel Chalet at the Choo Choo.

Nostalgia for the bygone era of train travel effortlessly mixes with first-class modern amenities, such as heated bathroom floors, Bluetooth speakers, and 55-inch high-definition smart TVs. In addition to 102 renovated, midcentury-inspired guest rooms in the original Choo Choo building, guests can choose to stay in a restored Pullman train carriage sumptuously decorated with art nouveau wallpaper, jewel-toned furniture, and vintage Tiffany glass pendant lamps.

Guest terrace at the Hotel Chalet

Photography by Matt Kisiday

Though it’s close to top local restaurants and watering holes, the Hotel Chalet draws guests back to the property with its sparkling pool and lush courtyard (where you can grab something to sip on from the caboose car bar), as well as its chic on-site eatery, Elsie’s Daughter, named after the wife of the original train station’s architect. The cuisine is French-Belgian (think bone marrow tartine and mussels), and the cocktails (most named after iconic artists) are delightful, so order a round and toast to the next chapter of the Choo Choo.

A dirty martini from Elsie’s Daughter

Photo courtesy of the Hotel Chalet at the Choo Choo

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Insider Intel
Jessica LaRosa, the Hotel Chalet’s managing director, shares her Chattanooga favorites

Garden Brunch
“Every box—food, drinks, service, vibe—gets checked at the Rosecomb. It feels like being welcomed into the home of a longtime friend. The quaint garden is the perfect setting for brunch.”

Vintage Finds
“The Local Dive Retail is a treasure trove of everything vintage. I find myself popping in here on random weekdays when I need to clear my mind and treat myself to something ‘new’ for my home.”

Sake Stop
“I love Attack of the Tatsu. It’s a hip, Japanese speakeasy ramen bar with sake served in traditional masu boxes.”

This article appears in the Spring 2024 issue of Southbound.