Complete Guide to the Hotel Chalet Chattanooga

A Full Review of the Hotel Chalet at the Choo Choo
Jennifer Lake Hotel Chalet Chattanooga

Have you ever slept on a train before? Up until a few short days ago, I never had (except for a much-needed nap on a rail ride from London to Amsterdam, but I digress lol). Therefore, when the Hotel Chalet Chattanooga invited us to experience their newly renovated property, we immediately booked our flights on United and said “yes.”

A long weekend on a fully restored 1920’s Pullman train car? Sign us up!

After all, whether it’s over-the-water villas, igloos and glass houses in the middle of the Arctic, soaring towers in the Middle East, restored RV’s in the middle of Marfa, Texas or a suite at the historic TWA Hotel at JFK airport, we’re always seeking new and unique destinations to visit.

This was an experience that couldn’t be missed.

Hotel Chalet Chattanooga

After having reflected on our travels over the years, I want to visit more unique, off-the-beaten-path destinations that are often overlooked by travelers. Sure, we’ll visit New York and Los Angeles often (mostly for my job). But we’ve always prided ourselves on selecting places that aren’t always top-of-mind.

Jennifer Lake Hotel Chalet at the Choo Choo

Chattanooga is a hidden gem. After all, neighboring cities like Nashville and Atlanta are easy choices. However, you’ll come to find that Chattanooga has countess amazing things to offer, not to mention great connectivity to various airports around the country. In our case, United (my fave airline, of course), offers two to three non-stop daily flights from ORD to CHA (or Chatt – short for Chattanooga). Talk about convenient! 🙂

Moreover, The Hotel Chalet at the Choo Choo was a natural pick. The property recently underwent a $19 million restoration, ultimately redesigning 127 guest rooms and 25 suites out of 1920’s and 1960’s Pullman train cars. So cool! Best of all the hotel features gorgeous designs and stunning landscaping.

Jennifer Lake Hotel Chalet at the Choo Choo

From the brilliant team at Trestle Studios, the property has been extremely well thought-out design, guest amenities and layout. You may be familiar with their other projects, including Saguaro Palm Springs and Scottsdale, the Hoxton Williamsburg, Freehand Chicago, NoMad New York, and LINE LA to name a few.

On their website, they feature a Henry David Thoreau quote, “The question is not what you look at, but what you see.” In so many ways, Hotel Chalet at the Choo Choo fits this sentiment perfectly. They reimagined everything based on the US Railways’ history of constructing lodges and chalets, connecting guests to the nearby serene mountain topography.

The property includes a coffee bar, fitness center with Peloton treadmills and bikes, and an on-site restaurant called Elsie’s Daughter (more on that later). Additionally, it seems like they’re still building out other aspects of the facility, including an outdoor patio and train car. Based on renderings, my gut says they’re adding a grab and go station for drinks and snacks for hotel guests by the pool. We’ll see!

Inside the MacArthur Suite

We were gifted a stay in the MacArthur Suite, a 770 square-foot space featuring a living and dining room, one full bathroom and powder room, and a primary bedroom. There were two closets (plenty of space to hang clothing), and even a STEAMER. Gracious, I nearly cried when I saw the steamer (so many hotels overlook this detail and opt for an iron and ironing board instead). While there’s no iron or ironing board in sight, the steamer is honestly all you need you to make your clothes look great for the next day.

Jennifer Lake Hotel Chalet at the Choo Choo

There’s also a 700 square-foot outdoor patio with a ton of seating, including lounge chairs, tables, and stools. You could easily host a party here just steps from the pool for friends and family. The suite sleeps up to 2-4 and can host up to 15 people.

Jennifer Lake Hotel Chalet at the Choo Choo

Plus, as someone who struggles with motion sickness, the idea of sleeping in a train car without the actual rocking back and forth sounded like an absolute dream. Spoiler alert: it was! 🙂

Admittedly, Bob and I are both self-described snobs when it comes to bedding and mattresses. Thankfully, The Hotel Chalet Chattanooga gets it right. We slept so well. Plus, the suite features a lot of drapery, so the bedroom was blacked out. Perfect for a great night’s sleep. Heavenly, truly! The suite was designed by interior designer, Jenny Bukovec, who added touches of rich hues and warm textures. It’s as if you’ve been transported into a past era. At the same time, there are modern touches included HVAC and working water, of course.

We’ve experienced her designs at Faraway Nantucket and Life House Nantucket. She’s clearly SO talented, and we absolutely love her design sensibility. At every property, she has a clear point of view, and makes every space feel distinct and special.

Jennifer Lake Hotel Chalet Chattanooga

The bathroom also features top-of-the-line touches like Toto toilets, Waterworks faucets, and the most gorgeous floor tile. I LOVED the tile – a mix of different sage greens and hints of metallics. So chic!

Elsie’s Daughter

Most travelers can attest hotel restaurants are often hit or miss. Typically, they feel completely disjointed from the experience and leave you feeling like you paid a fortune for simple things like coffee and fries. Elsie’s Daughter, The Hotel Chalet Chattanooga’s on-site restaurant strikes all the right notes.

Elsie's Daughter Chattanooga

Before visiting the property, the hotel mentioned their restaurant was “world class.” To be transparent, we kept looking at the menu online and thinking, “hmmm, are you sure?” After all, we’re Chicagoans – one of the best culinary destinations in the world.

Nonetheless, we were impressed! Plus, we had the opportunity to try both brunch and dinner – each was equally amazing. The servers were so nice and attentive, the drinks were delicious, and the food was outstanding. For brunch, we recommend the french toast and chilaquiles. Also, the potatoes are a signature dish.

Elsie's Daughter Brunch

While the restaurant is missing certain frills (just drip coffee, espresso, and an Americano for coffee choices, for example), they make up for it in curated menus and bold flavors. Each meal left us wanting to return to try more.

Restaurant Advice

My best advice? MAKE A RESERVATION. This isn’t a large restaurant (which is true of many Chattanooga places, we came to find out). Book before you go or you’ll likely eat at the bar.

Lastly, we love that locals, Ryan Smith and Chloe Wright of The Rosecomb, led the menu design for the space. We happened to have visited The Rosecomb the night before after receiving a recommendation from an Instagram follower, and the synergies between the two spaces are undeniable. Both are worth a visit!

Hotel Chalet Chattanooga – Meetings & Events

While we didn’t have the chance to see them, we found out there’s a bunch of several event spaces. In fact, there’s a ballroom that can fit up to 180 guests. A wedding at this venue would be epic! It could be a true takeover of the space. Plus, you can add a tented outdoor reception and beyond.

Jennifer Lake Hotel Chalet at the Choo Choo

For brides, grooms, conferences, meeting and event planners looking for more interesting and attainable options than other larger markets, The Hotel Chalet at the Choo Choo will be absolutely perfect.

Important Notes

Okay, so what’s the catch? The train cars don’t have a ton of sound insulation. As such, you can hear things very clearly from the outside. Thankfully, the MacArthur Suite is distant from other train cars. As such, there isn’t much ambient noise of other Hotel Chalet guests. However, the suite is also located directly in front of the pool. During peak season, it’ll likely be loud from morning, noon to night. Thankfully, the weather was slightly cool during our stay, so we only had one family enjoying the pool one afternoon. Did we hear “Marco Polo” clear as a bell for an hour? Yes.

Jennifer Lake Hotel Chalet at the Choo Choo

Therefore, if you have sound sensitivities, we’d just recommend staying in the main part of the hotel vs. the actual train suites. Specifically, if you want to stay in a train suite but don’t want a ton of noise, we suggest avoiding train suite #26 altogether, since it’s located right next to the restaurant.

If you’re not averse to noise, you’ll be 100,000% fine. Plus, there are Bluetooth radio in the room, so you can enjoy your own tunes and mask other sounds. Moreover, the suites are perfect for bachelorette parties, families, and other group gatherings. In fact, I think this is one of the most family-friendly properties we’ve seen in some time.

Jennifer Lake Hotel Chalet at the Choo Choo

The only other note is parking can prove tricky on nights when The Signal, the hotel’s next door neighbor, has an event. As a major venue, that property’s guests and attendees clearly use the Hotel Chalet parking when needed.

Would we avoid the hotel due to the above drawbacks? Absolutely not. We loved it and hope to to return.

Hotel Chalet Chattanooga – In Closing

In closing, we definitely recommend The Hotel Chalet Chattanooga for anyone who is looking for a unique, one-of-a-kind hotel experience. Eat at the restaurant, stay in the MacArthur Suite (or another train suite) if you can, and explore Chattanooga.

We are sincerely grateful for the experience, and we look forward to hopefully returning again soon.

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