Despite numerous trips to Atlanta over the years, the one hotel that I've always wanted to stay was the one that had alluded me the most. The Omni Atlanta CNN Center is a landmark in the city, and has intrigued this news nerd since I was a kid thanks to it also being the home of CNN (in case you didn't figure that one out). Until now, we stayed elsewhere in The ATL for various reasons, but cast all of those aside on our recent trip so that I could finally check-in to the Omni Atlanta.
|The hotel atrium and CNN Studio Tour|
The past decisions to avoid the Omni weren't made because of poor reviews or reputation, but simply a matter of convenience and preference in hotels. Our trips to Atlanta are usually centered around the Peachtree Road Race, where MJ joins 60,000 other runners in this annual tradition. The Omni Atlanta's location in downtown isn't very convenient for both the start and end for the race, so we have always chosen to stay at a hotel in Buckhead or Midtown accordingly. Plus, downtown Atlanta has always been a ghost town between 5pm on Friday and 8am on Monday, but that is all starting to change. Downtown, it seems, is on its way to becoming the new Midtown, with a surge of new development and nightlife near the Omni that shows no sign in letting up anytime soon.
|The hotel as seen from Centennial Olympic Park|
The other reason we waited so long to stay at the Omni Atlanta came down to my own hotel snobbery. The Omni is an enormous convention hotel, sporting over 1000 guestrooms, which isn't usually my cup of tea. I typically prefer smaller hotels, who might also host one of the city's hot restaurants or nightlife spots. At risk of sounding superficial, I like to feel cool when checking into a hotel, and nothing could be more hip than bunch of conventioneers. Proving my preconceived notions to be off base, the Omni Atlanta didn't feel imposing or overly crowded, despite a national teachers union conference taking place in the city which booked the hotel full.
|The Lobby. Oddly enough, only one TV was tuned to CNN.|
For tourists visiting Atlanta, it is hard to find a more convenient location to explore the city's most popular attractions. The Omni is located right on Centennial Olympic Park, which is home to the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola, and the Georgia World Congress Center. The Omni even offers a Georgia Aquarium hotel package giving guests VIP and behind the scenes access to the popular attraction. Not to mention that the hotel is connected to Phillips Arena, the Georgia Dome is practically across the street, and the CNN Studio Tour is found just downstairs from the lobby. Toss in the new College Football Hall of Fame that's under construction, and you've got the most convenient hotel location in Atlanta. Of course, none of this mattered on our trip because it rained for three days solid and we barely left the hotel.
|Rain, rain, go away.|
The guestrooms in the Omni Atlanta are divided amongst the original South Tower and the newer North Tower that debuted in 2003. Both towers have a fully functioning lobby and valet entrance, and the two are connected by a skybridge for easy access to all of the hotel's amenities. We booked a premier king room, which are oversized corner rooms found in the North Tower. We chose the room because a) I have an undying love of corner rooms and b) they featured a panoramic view of the Atlanta skyline and, more importantly, Centennial Olympic Park for the July 4th fireworks.
|Have I mentioned I like corner rooms?|
For the better part of three days, the rain threatened to destroy my clearly brilliant plan of watching the fireworks from our room. About three hours before the show another thunderstorm rolled through downtown, sending all of the revelers scattering like ants and turning Centennial Olympic Park into a muddy mess. Thankfully, the rain stopped just long enough for the celebration to go on as planned, giving us quite a show from our dry and air conditioned guestroom.
Since we didn't get out of the hotel much, we were largely at the Omni's mercy when it came to food. Naturally, the most important thing is getting my iced coffee in the morning and afternoon, and the Omni had me covered with their coffee bar named Morsels. When we needed a quick and cheap option for lunch after the race, we walked downstairs to the CNN Center food court, which had a wide variety of fast food and a Starbucks, that I sadly discovered on the last day. Finally, the highlight of our food experiences at the Omni was dinner at their signature restaurant, Prime Meridian. The restaurant serves up classic American cuisine with a southern twist and a beautiful view of Centennial Park. I can honestly say that Prime Meridian is responsible for my first ever uttering of the words "Wow, these collard greens are really good."
|Horseradish crusted salmon with collards.|
Over the years, I've come to expect great service and amenities from the Omni brand, and the Omni Atlanta was no exception. After all, there's a reason why they're the current holders of JD Power's guest satisfaction award. For tourists looking to explore the most popular attractions in Atlanta, or anyone doing business or attending an event in the city, the Omni is simply as good as it gets. Our visit might have been a wet one, but in the end the Omni Atlanta CNN Center proved to be worth the wait.
Enjoy Your Stay