The Ellis Hotel: Atlanta's Reborn Boutique


The Ellis Hotel, a boutique hotel in a historic downtown Atlanta building, is located on Peachtree Street, Atlanta's famous thoroughfare. Nearby attractions include Centennial Olympic Park, CNN Center, the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola, Philips Arena and the Georgia Dome. The hotel can be reached from the Interstate 75/85 Downtown Connector. MARTA, Atlanta's public transit system, has a train station one block away, and bus lines serve the area. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is 15 minutes away.

The 15-story, 127-room Ellis, which opened in late 2007, is in one of the oldest buildings in downtown Atlanta. Built in 1913, it was originally known as the Winecoff Hotel. The Winecoff was one of the city's most successful hotels until 1946, when a fire broke out on the third floor and quickly spread to the upper floors. Although the building was constructed to early 20th century "fireproof'' standards, it had no safety features to protect guests, and 119 people were killed in the fire. The Winecoff remains one of the worst hotel fire tragedies in the United States. It was responsible, however, for changing fire safety laws and procedures in multi-story buildings all across the country. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009. According to the Georgia Historic Preservation Division, "it is an excellent example of the Neoclassical Revival style in Atlanta built in the first decades of the 20th century and is among the few hotels from that time to survive in downtown Atlanta.''

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) points out, "While Ellis officials are trying to retain as much of the exterior's original design as possible, they are not being as rigid about decor inside the building. The interior furnishings will have a post-modern flair based on styles from the '40s and '50s.'' Most of the rooms are small but very stylishly appointed. The hotel features one executive suite, with a separate sitting room; 12 junior suites, with a living area not separate from the bedroom; and a women's only floor with secured entry, an extra pair of panty hose in each room, curling and straightening irons, and upgraded bath amenities. All rooms include luxury bedding, an in-room mini-bar and free wired high-speed Internet access. Wireless access is available in the public areas of the hotel.

Other hotel features include a small fitness center, a business center and valet service. The Ellis has two meeting rooms that can accommodate up to 50 guests each. Dining at the Ellis is provided by Terrace, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Terrace uses locally sourced food whenever possible, and features such items as Georgia Organic Collards in a rich hamhock stock, Georgia Mountain Trout with Virginia blue crab brown butter, and Antebellum Yellow Hominy Grits, among other contemporary American fare.

The New York Times says in its review of the Ellis, "Though the Ellis's design may lack personality, its staff doesn't. They were helpful and kind ... when it comes to atmosphere, [the hotel] doesn't seem to hold much intrigue. Yet for those who want to avoid the chain hotels, it's an attractive option with a lovely restaurant.'' Reviewers on the Internet certainly seemed pleased; the hotel is, at this writing, the number two hotel in Atlanta based on ratings from users of tripadvisor.com. Eighty-eight percent give the hotel an "Excellent'' or "Very Good'' rating on that website. One recent guest said that "the environment was refreshing and relaxing. Our room was very charming.'' The staff gets very high marks, and everyone loves the location. Another person says, "I do love this place and it is walking distance to all kinds of great restaurants ... and all types of attractions.'' The price is also attractive to guests, with one guest noting that it is "significantly less costly than nearby chain hotels.'' The hotel's general manager sums up the feeling at the hotel in the AJC, saying, "The historical nature of the building is on the outside from the brick and the mortar and the location. But when you walk into the building, you are walking into the future."

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