In Japanese, the word translates to ‘welcome’ and is a common greeting for vendors and shops to usher in new customers. At Nobu Hotel and Restaurant in the heart of Buckhead Atlanta, it’s their philosophy. Originally opening in 1994 as a restaurant by Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa, the Nobu brand has expanded into hotels and hospitality.
With locations around the globe, Nobu opened its Atlanta hotel and restaurant in November 2022. It’s just one of what I like to call The Four Corners of Comfort that make up this one section of Buckhead. The other corners include the luxury shopping center Phipps Plaza, exercise paradise Life Time, and delicious food hall Citizen’s Market. I had the pleasure of touring them and experiencing all the comforts they have to offer. As a life-long Atlanta resident who literally lives just a few miles down the road, I am blown away by what I had been missing out on. Regardless, whether you’re traveling to Atlanta or looking for a quick staycation, there’s something for everyone at this little corner in Buckhead.
Rest Comfortably at Nobu Hotel & Restaurant
Tucked away behind the hustle and bustle of Peachtree St., Nobu Hotel & Restaurant stands tall like a lighthouse guiding you in from the madness that is Atlanta traffic. A chilled cup of delicious herbal tea and a warm towel welcomed me as I checked into my room at the front desk. From the moment you walk into the front doors, the worries of the day begin to melt away. This is what Irasshaimase feels like.
Nobu’s rooms have all the comforts you would expect from a luxury hotel. I was particularly impressed by the single-cup coffee machine, complete with an electric kettle for tea. I am a huge coffee enthusiast and carry my own grinder and beans with me wherever I go when I travel. So while I didn’t have much use for the machine itself, I greatly appreciated that there was a kettle for boiling water already in the room. There were also actual ceramic mugs and not just standard paper cups to drink out of as well.
It’s often the small details that make a place stand out, and Nobu is full of them; the brevity of the elevators, coffee available at the front desk every morning (yes, I am all about the coffee!), comfy robes hanging in the closet. And of course, connected directly to the hotel lobby are the doors to Nobu Restaurant. I’ve heard of Nobu before. Nobu Malibu is where all the celebrities go to eat and get photographed. More importantly, I hear they have great sushi. Having now had the wonderful opportunity to dine at Nobu Atlanta, I can confirm the second part, although I didn’t see any celebrities from across my table.
We were treated to a sampling of Nobu dishes including their famous Black Cod Miso, a selection of sushi, and sashimi salad. But by far my favorite dish that graced my lips was the rock shrimp in a creamy spicy sauce. The shrimp are first dipped in a tempura batter and fried to crispy perfection before being coated in a sweet and tangy sauce with a little kick. It’s too easy to eat one shrimp…and then another…and another. They can be quite addictive if you’re not too careful. I imagine the rock shrimp are just like the popplers from Futurama. If it were up to me, I would never stop eating them as well. Another benefit to having a restaurant attached to the lobby of the hotel is the fact that I could just walk back to my room to sleep off the spectacular food coma experience I had.
Live and Work with Life Time Fitness
Speaking of food comas, the best way to work off an amazing meal at Nobu is a work out at Life Time Fitness. Located literally across the street from the hotel, Life Time Fitness is a multi-story athletic club that can fit anyone and everyone’s exercising needs. There is an entire floor dedicated to workout machines and weights in addition to group training classes that are similar to what you can find at places like Orange Theory or CrossFit. Studios populate another floor and feature cycle, yoga, Pilates, and barre sessions. Everything you would need is included so all you have to bring are your workout clothes and the energy to get a good workout in. If you’re in more of a relaxing mood, the rooftop is where you’ll want to be with pools and plenty of cabanas available to stretch out and grab some sun.
Life Time Fitness also has a dedicated spa center, café, and even multiple bar/lounge areas for those days when you really want to let loose after a workout. And if you’re a parent, there is also a dedicated Kids Academy where you can drop off your child for a couple of hours while you go and exercise. All the equipment I saw while touring the facility was the latest and greatest, and the coaches Life Time Fitness employs are some of the best in Atlanta. While staying at Nobu Hotel doesn’t give you any access to Life Time Fitness, day passes are available for purchase. And I was please to find out that if you already have a membership to Life Time Fitness, you can visit any of their locations across the country. Your membership isn’t tied to one specific location. It’s great for both vacation or staycation.
Luxury Shopping Made Easy at Phipps Plaza
Want another workout? How about getting your steps in by walking from shop to shop at Phipps Plaza. Before my tour, Phipps Plaza was the place I was most familiar with having gone to the AMC Theatres located on the top floor countless times for screenings. Even so, I would typically park and take the escalator straight to the top and head directly to the theatre. I never really took the time to browse around the mall.
The majority of the stores are revolve around luxury goods such as jewelry, name brand clothing, perfumes, etc. If that is your thing then Phipps Plaza is the place to be. For me, luxury is defined as LEGO, which thankfully Phipps Plaza not only has an entire store dedicated to the building bricks but also a LEGO Discovery Center. Families can explore various LEGO attractions and build their own minifigs, participate in workshops, or wander around a miniland of Atlanta that consists of Georgia landmarks made from over 1.5 million LEGOs!
I do have to mention that adults must have a kid with them in order to visit the LEGO Discover Center. The good news is that they do have Adult Nights where kids aren’t necessary and letting out your inner child is highly recommended. The LEGO store is open to everyone, of course, and honestly I could probably spend an entire day (and paycheck) in there. One of the coolest new additions to the store is the ability to create your own custom minifig. They have a massive LEGO printer – yes, I said printer – where you can design your own torso and then print it directly onto a minifig. It’s pretty awesome.
Hungry? Grab a bite at Citizen’s Market
After a long day of shopping at Phipps Plaza, you’re probably going to want to grab something to eat. While the mall has a few restaurants located next to the AMC Theatres, it’s a very small selection, and I’ve never been too impressed with the food if I’m being totally honest. What I recommend is going down to the bottom floor and to the west end of the mall where Citizen’s Market is located.
Citizen’s Market is a food hall attached to Phipps Plaza and includes nine different fast-casual restaurants and a full service bar. Your options include Umami Burger, Krispy Rice, Sam’s Crispy Chicken, Firebelly Wings, Sa’Moto, EllaMia, Cicci di Carne, El Pollo Verde, and Soom Soom Mediterranean. My stomach is only so big so I was only able to try out Krispy Rice, and their sushi was delicious. And that’s after previously having dinner at Nobu. All the restaurants look fantastic though. It’s open air layout means you can browse around and check them all out before making any final decisions.
Now that I’ve experienced it, I know that for any future screenings I have at AMC Theatres Phipps Plaza I will be arriving a little earlier so I can grab dinner at Citizen’s Market. After all, I have eight other food stalls I need to sample.
I have never been much of a Buckhead or Phipps Plaza person in the past. As I mentioned earlier, my experience with the area was mostly confined to the theatres and not much else. That all has changed. Now I can see myself spending the day in the area. I can see myself grabbing some lunch at Citizen’s Market and enjoying the sun on The Green, the lawn right outside the food hall with lounging chairs, tables, and areas to relax. Maybe bring my laptop and do some work while I grab a drink at the bar. If I’m feeling really fancy, I may book a night or two at Nobu for a staycation, just to get myself out of the apartment for a weekend. In the wise words of Tom and Donna from Parks and Rec, sometimes you just got to “treat yo’ self.”
As an Atlanta native, it can be easy to stick with the places and things I’m familiar with and get stuck in a routine. Nobu, Phipps Plaza, Life Time, and Citizen’s Market have all done a great job at breaking me free from that routine. I’ve always thought of Buckhead as fancy but congested and overwhelming. Now though there’s a little corner of it where I can go to and find some peace and comfort. My own little slice of irasshaimase.