As a city dweller, my idea of an escape usually involves a destination far from mass civilization: Take me to a secluded beach or give me a winding mountain trail. So as I gaze down from my room on the fourteenth floor of the Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta and watch the endless traffic on Buckhead’s Peachtree Road, I’m surprised by the sense of calm I feel floating above it all. During my stay here, I’ve come to understand that the hotel is adept at graciously transporting guests out of the urban hustle.
For me, the calming effect began at the entrance, a circular courtyard removed just enough from the street to engender a delicious sense of seclusion. Beyond the building’s limestone and cast-stone facade, the foyer gleamed with black-and-white marble flooring. I couldn’t resist climbing a staircase just off to the right, which led to Taipan, a lounge that serves a spot-on shandy made with Blue Moon’s Belgian white and ginger syrup.
Drink in hand, I looked out Taipan’s windows and spied a cloistered English garden, soothing in the symmetry of its topiary, which stays verdant even in the cooler months. Floral themes, I later learned, show up everywhere on the property. Vases of red or pale pink orchids draw the eye. Asiatic prints of blossoms adorn the guest room walls. Even the striations running through the cocoa-colored marble in the spacious bathrooms suggest wintry branches plucked from an Andrew Wyeth painting.
Indeed, the property has come into bloom since the Hong Kong–based Mandarin Oriental group took over management in spring 2012 (it was originally the Mansion on Peachtree). And the timing was auspicious. Mandarin Oriental arrived in the Atlanta market as the local economy was reenergizing, and the global brand brought further cachet to Buckhead’s lineup of luxury hotels.
Nowhere does the group’s reputation for exceptional service express itself more elegantly than the spa. It’s everything a serene getaway should be. Locker rooms sprawl, and amenities include sauna, spa, and a whirlpool practically big enough for swimming laps. The staff turned my couple of hours there into a study in serenity, beginning with a cup of fragrant tea in the waiting area. The classic Oriental Essence massage was just what I needed: My therapist offered several varieties of scented oil (with the heady scent of mandarin a recurring leitmotif, naturally) and gave extra attention to my knotty shoulders. So successful were their soothing ministrations—and so seductive the hotel’s enchanting atmosphere—I’m finding it difficult to leave my room and descend to the hotel’s ground floor to depart. At least my jellied mind and muscles feel restored enough to face the bustling world outside again.
3376 Peachtree Road, Atlanta, Georgia, 404-995-7500, mandarinoriental.com/atlanta
While You’re There
Del Frisco’s Grille sits just across the courtyard from the hotel. Start with cheesesteak spring rolls before indulging in a New York strip or filet mignon. The hotel’s intimate Cafe & Bar offers a breadth of New American cuisine, from crab cakes and truffled chicken salad for lunch to autumnal dishes like Georgia-raised lamb with cassoulet and rosemary jus for dinner. delfriscosgrille.com/atlanta
At the Atlanta History Center, about a five-minute drive from the hotel, experience one of the nation’s most extensive Civil War exhibitions and check out America’s only complete collection of Olympic torches and medals in the Centennial Olympic Games Museum. Coming in January: Atlanta in 50 Objects, a crowd-sourced exhibit of items that communicate the city’s essence. atlantahistorycenter.com