While Atlanta has been on a dizzying meteoric rise since the Summer Olympics in 1996 elevated us onto the world stage, there are certain benchmarks that a city still must attain to earn true global A-list status. To be uttered in the same sentence with New York, Paris, London, Miami, Mexico City, and Tokyo, not only do you need a booming population, bustling commerce and rich cultural tapestry but a top-tier buzz city must also accumulate certain zeitgeist icons. A Nobu Restaurant must be considered one of those fabled metrics to attain. Now finally, low and behold, Atlanta has our own Nobu. And not just that, Atlanta is one of the few cities on the planet to possess both a Nobu Restaurant and a Nobu Hotel. This is a Big Deal.
The whole mystique started back in the late 1980s when sushi was just becoming the phenomenon it is today. Nobu Matsuhisa left Japan for LA and opened Matsuhisa. Legend has it that Robert De Niro dined there and became smitten with the sensuous cuisine and stylish aesthetic. De Niro urged Nobu to come to New York and open in his Tribeca neighborhood which he eventually did in 1994 and they became partners. The success of the first Nobu rocked the dining scene and now there are over 50 restaurants around the globe. I have eaten at the ones in Miami, Las Vegas, and New York and they are all unforgettable meals.
Sprouting out a small unused parcel on the Phipps Plaza mall footprint, the Nobu Hotel's new construction resembles a bar of rich, dark chocolate tucked in amidst the forest of glass and steel Buckhead skyscrapers. To enter you must come through the Lenox road entrance of Phipps, past the Davio's restaurant entrance, and into what feels like a private drive. This enhances the intimate, exclusive feel of the experience.
From the Porsche courtesy shuttle vehicles parked out front to the stylish lobby, you instantly feel the modern energy. The decor is modern minimalist Japanese with subtle artistic flourishes we experienced all the way up to our room on the 7th floor. Your room key will only activate the elevator to your particular floor which is a fantastic security enhancement. Our suite was amazing-- modern Japanese-inspired decor, and a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere with views of the Buckhead skyline and beyond. Each room is outfitted with plush bedding, sleek furnishings, and plenty of natural light, and automated curtains and drapes. Japanese-style robes hang in the closets and The rooms are also equipped with state-of-the-art entertainment systems, complimentary Wi-Fi, and an in-room minibar stocked with premium beverages and snacks. Additionally, each room has a Nespresso coffee maker.
But the true highlight of the hotel in my opinion is its namesake restaurant, Nobu. Unlike some restaurants that are constantly trying to break new culinary ground, the magic at Nobu lies in their signature dishes, including exquisite sushi, yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño, rock shrimp tempura with a creamy spicy butter ponzu sauce (essentially it has more universally become known as "Bang Bang Shrimp"), and the dish that really put him on the map, black cod with miso. These are iconic for a reason. They are magnificent assaults on the senses and render whole-body ecstasy when you eat them. For dessert, we ravaged mochi and ice cream plus a chocolate lava cake with matcha ice cream. These are all dishes you can find on most Japanese restaurant menus (and even many that don't specialize in Japanese) but nothing beats eating something sourced from the master himself. It's almost like seeing a cover band playing Beatles songs versus seeing Paul McCartney play "Yesterday" live. There simply is no substitute for eating these dishes at Nobu. You will know the difference.
And of course, there is the buzz. Bentleys and Lamborghini park outside regularly and celebrity sightings are almost guaranteed--we dined a few feet from actor/comedian Rob Riggle while we were there. The dining room, when full and bustling is almost a show of its own--the people-watching is as good as anywhere. It's a party. it's a culinary experience. It's an event.
This is the stuff of dream staycations. Obviously, Nobu Hotel Atlanta offers a perfect jumping-off point for Buckhead and beyond. Or it's a perfect place to do nothing. The downstairs gym is massive, gleaming, and brand new, and the rooftop pool opens today (4/22) for hotel guests so expect quite the scene up on top once the heat picks up. The spa is forthcoming but for now, they can arrange massages and other spa treatments at Lifetime Fitness across the street.
Whatever you do, book early. The restaurant is a difficult but possible reservation. The hotel's occupancy is claiming by the day and there are some great offers including packages that include dining, shopping and more.