The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead: Atlanta's Four-Star Hotel with the Five-Star Restaurant

The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, one of Atlanta's most luxurious hotels, is located in the Buckhead area of the city. Buckhead is Atlanta's most upscale neighborhood, featuring world-class dining and shopping, as well as the city's most prestigious businesses and homes. The hotel can be immediately reached from Georgia Highway 400. MARTA, Atlanta's public transit system, has a train station within one block of the hotel, which is approximately 15 minutes from downtown Atlanta and 25 minutes from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead is a Mobil Four-Star hotel, one of only three in Atlanta. AAA has given it its Five Diamond award, one of only four in the city, for 23 years in a row as of 2009. The 517-room property celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2009 with a complete makeover, expanding its number of suites to 58 and updating guest rooms, the Club Lounge and all public spaces. The hotel's standard rooms now feature mahogany hardwood floors in the foyer; a new refreshment center; DVD players and integrated technology for laptops, PDAs and iPods; and new bath areas with marble and rain shower heads. Club rooms offer the same features and additionally provide access to the Club Lounge, which offers a concierge and food and drinks throughout the day. All standard rooms are 360 square feet. Most suites are 720-square-foot Executive Suites, which have a separate living area and an additional bath. There are six larger suites in the hotel, up to 1,800 square feet, which offer much more luxurious amenities. The hotel has a large fitness center with an indoor pool and a full-service business center.

The dining at the Ritz-Carlton cannot be matched anywhere in the city. The Cafy, the hotel's casual yet elegant all-day restaurant, offers breakfast, lunch and dinner in a relaxed setting. "Casual'' at the Ritz means burgers made from American Wagyu beef and tarragon pesto pepperoni pizza. The Lobby Lounge, the hotel's bar area, serves an afternoon English tea and sophisticated cocktails, accompanied by live piano music and soft vocalists most evenings.

The reason many Atlantans go to the Ritz-Carlton is to visit the Dining Room, one of only 16 Mobil Five Star restaurants in the United States. The Dining Room's reputation was built by legendary chef Guenter Seeger, who led the restaurant from 1985 to 1997. Since 2005, the Dining Room has been in the extraordinarily talented hands of Chef Arnaud Berthelier. When the chef came to the hotel, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution raved, "[N]ever has the Dining Room been more dramatic ... has never felt this buoyant. ... It is a night for indulgence ... of theater and surprise ... passionate, impetuous - yet deliberate. ... [T]his scene will leave you breathless.'' Berthelier creates a new menu every night that features French cuisine with a healthy dose of other Mediterranean influences. His most popular offering is an eight-course, prix-fixe menu with wine pairings for each course.

Internet reviews of the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead are mostly very positive, especially since the hotel's renovation. "The staff is absolutely divine,'' says one recent guest, and another says the Dining Room has "probably the best food I've ever tasted.'' The Professional Travel Guide notes, "This property sparkles with impeccable maintenance.'' Some guests find it lacking, however, especially compared to newer luxury properties in the city. One says, "A nice hotel ... but a Ritz-Carlton should never be just `okay' but always be `amazing.''' The Professional Travel Guide complements the staff on their friendliness, but says they "need more training if they are ever going to reach the heights of another Five Diamond hotel's team.'' Nonetheless, the Ritz-Carlton is a top luxury option for a stay in Atlanta.

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