in residence

Since we are taking a break from all the food porn, let me take a moment and fill you in on my posh digs at The St. Regis, Atlanta.

The story of St. Regis begins at the forefront of New York’s Gilded Age, where an elite group of supremely wealthy families rose to form the country’s first aristocracy.  The leaders of this new social class were the Astors, with matriarch Caroline Astor at the helm of high society. Visionary and tenacious, “The” Mrs. Astor created the first true expression of New York society by hand-selecting those with whom she associated – forever after known as the “400.” This new experience of exclusivity made even the wealthiest and most renowned eager to become a member of her inner circle.

It was also at this time that Lady Astor’s son, John Jacob Astor IV, sought to develop a new style of luxury, focused on tangible advancements in the comforts afforded the wealthy. These innovations debuted inside Astor’s classic Beaux Arts landmark, The St. Regis New York, when it opened off Fifth Avenue in 1904.  Before his death aboard the Titanic, Astor was able to fulfill his vision of creating a hotel where gentlemen and their families could feel as comfortable as they would as guests in a private home. This was in no small part due to the acumen of Lady Astor, who helped cultivate a sense of luxury and refinement in all aspects of the hotel’s operation. Fresh flowers were brought in daily, an English-style butler and afternoon tea services were implemented and exclusive social gatherings such as a midnight supper all created an air of grandeur inside the St. Regis.

Set in the exclusive community of Buckhead – near virtually all the good shopping, natch – Atlanta’s St. Regis oozes a Southern charm that might even have pleased Lady Astor herself.  On entering the 26-story building you’re greeted by a pair of dramatic, curved staircases that serve as the centerpiece of the hotel’s lobby. Two magnificent fireplaces, like those found in traditional Southern estates, create an inviting atmosphere, along with opulent crystal chandeliers casting a warm hue over the rich hardwood floors.  You don’t feel like you’ve just arrived at a hotel; you feel like you’ve come home – well, a lottery-fueled dream of home anyway. Macassar ebony furniture, leather-wrapped writing desks and luxurious ivory bed linens are just a prelude to the spacious five-fixture marble bathrooms.  And then there’s your personal butler, trained in the English tradition, should you need anything.

After a few hours lounging in the Remede Spa or the 40,000-square-foot outdoor oasis that is the Pool Piazza (or both) follow in the footsteps of Caroline Astor and take high tea, with an assortment of tea sandwiches, freshly baked scones, tea cakes, seasonal jams and chutneys, petit fours and other delightful desserts, in front of the fire in the elegant Long Gallery.  If you prefer your afternoon repast a bit more substantial, the Special Selection in the Bar and Wine Room is a smoky bourbon with butterscotch and crème brulee on the nose and a long cherry finish.  (The result of a collaboration with Woodford Reserve Distillery, The St. Regis is the only hotel in Georgia to create a namesake blend.) It pairs perfectly with the aged cheddar, 1000 island chow chow and BBQ sauce-topped house sliders.  It’s also a fantastic prelude to Mark Alba’s seven-course truffle menu across the lobby at Paces 88.  Oh, no … I’m talking about food. Again.

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