Sharla and I recently took a small Thanksgiving weekend trip to Atlanta, mainly because a long weekend for us both is such a rare thing these days. We knew far ahead of time that we’d get cabin fever spending the whole long weekend at our house, so sought out something good to do about a month ahead of time.
As you can tell from our previous post about Bonnaroo, we thoroughly enjoy live music, so we looked around to see where the best concert within driving distance was. The thing that caught our eye most of all was a show at The Tabernacle in Atlanta with alt-rock bands Reptar and Moon Taxi. We’d seen a few songs from each band at Bonnaroo over the past few years, so decided that $20 each for tickets for a full show between both of them were a pretty sweet deal.
What sold the deal for us was that the Atlanta Westin had a good deal that weekend for rooms at just under $100 a night. We’ve stayed in many of the other luxury hotels in Midtown Atlanta, but the Westin was one of the last few that we’ve not visited. The appeal of one of the tallest and most modern looking buildings in Atlanta hooked us, so we dove in for the concert and hotel for the weekend.
While obviously we’d give a good review for the music that we were in town for, one thing we can provide is a review of both The Tabernacle and the Atlanta Westin. Both the venue and the hotel were new for us, and we were excited to try something new.
My first thought on entering the Tabernacle was that it reminded me of a slightly more modern version of the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Living up to the name, the decor is somewhat reminiscent of an older Southern church, which does a lot to add to the charm of the place. It also has a great setup on different levels that allows for a really varied experience, allowing you to be part of a big crowded pit on the floor, or have a relaxed seat upstairs.
There are also tons of different smaller features throughout, mostly of which have been retrofitted as concession stands and bars. We even found another smaller stage downstairs in the basement that had been converted for this event as a merchandise table.
While the building itself and the show we’d come to see were great, unfortunately that’s the only good news that I’ve got to report about the Tabernacle. What should have been a great night at their music hall was tragically marred by a poor customer experience. From the condescending attendees barking orders at the line to get in, to unclear and uneven policies, to the physically intimidated security personnel, it was just an overall bad experience.
Sharla and I did not feel like welcomed or valued guests whatsoever. Moreover, none of the security or staff seemed to even be adequately performing their jobs, as inconsiderate patrons would push, shove, and block views, without any staff intervention whatsoever. Thankfully though, we were able to enjoy the music otherwise, but definitely left with a bad taste in our mouth.
To leave it on a positive note, I do want to make a point to encourage everyone to check out Reptar. They’re a really inventive and fun group out of Athens, Georgia and they seem like they’re kind of on the verge of breaking big. To me, they sound like a unique high-energy cross between Talking Heads and the most recent Arcade Fire album.
Westin Peachtree Plaza
We had been to the Atlanta Westin a number of times in the past, just as brief visitors. We’ve attended the Dragon*Con convention in town a number of times, which has some of its events hosted inside. The Westin is likely one of the cooler looking places in town, with the both the tall cylindrical architecture on the outside, and the modern look inside as well. That luxury usually comes at a price, so being able to steal a room away for $100 a night was a nice score for us. It seems as if you can get a cheap room like this if you’re looking at off-peak times.
Unfortunately, our first impression of this place this time around wasn’t exactly the luxurious image that the Westin would probably like to produce. Their parking garage is not only hard to navigate, but also really gross. Thankfully, we didn’t have to spend too much time in it! The check-in process was seamless enough, and we even had a hand from the concierge who helped us to print our concert tickets that I’d somehow forgotten before leaving for Atlanta.
I’d asked the clerk at the front desk for a higher floor, and it really paid off as we were given a room on the 35th floor.. As you can see in the accompanying photos, we had an awesome view of Centennial Park, the Georgia Dome, the Georgia Aquarium, and many other things. The layout of the room seems to encourage to to stick around the great floor-to-ceiling windows that invites you to stare out for your whole stay. I joked with Sharla that if we returned sometime, we should bring a telescope along with us so we can do some real people watching. The rest of the room itself was pretty standard for a mid-tier luxury hotel like this, with comfy enough beds, and a nice enough bathroom. There’s also a nice office desk and some cool furniture which seems to come standard as well.
The one issue that we did run into at the Westin was with their supposed indoor pool. I use the word “supposed” in this case because it wasn’t really indoors. Even in the waning days of November, someone found it appropriate to leave the retractable roof open. Granted, the temperature was a little on the warm side, but that still made trying to take a dip in the pool a very cold one. I really still have no clue as to why someone on their staff thought that was a good idea.
One other thing that I’d mention is that while it’s tempting to leave the curtains open all night, the flashing lights of billboards and the ferris wheel aren’t the best night lights. We eventually had to shut them off so we could actually stay asleep.
As a bonus mini-review, we also stopped by the new Braves All-Star Grill on Peachtree Street. I admit I was lured in by the fact that I’m a huge fan of the team, so they hooked me on the branding alone. I had a barbecue sandwich and a drink that were actually pretty good, and we spoke with the very charismatic and friendly manager who we learned we shared a hometown with. While my first preference is to patronize a locally owned place with a bit more variety in the menu, I do have to say I was fairly impressed with the Braves Grill. In all honesty, it is a run of the mill sports bar with a Braves baseball coat of paint, so your enjoyment of that may depend on how much you enjoy the team.
Overall, Sharla and I had a great time in Atlanta on Thanksgiving weekend. I admit that I don’t think we’ll be in a rush to return to the Tabernacle for anything, but we certainly will be back at the Westin if we catch a good deal again.