How dangerous could it be, really?
February 24, 2009 9:05 AM   Subscribe

Staying at the Clermont Hotel in Atlanta this weekend - any firsthand info I should know?

So some friends and I are heading down to Atlanta this weekend for the Scion Rock Fest (cheesy name for a great metal lineup) at the Masquerade, and I've decided to take a walk on the nasty side and get rooms at the Clermont Hotel, which is the attached building to the infamous Clermont Lounge. The reasons are threefold - it's something like two blocks from the metal show, so we can just walk back from there after being thoroughly inebriated, it's 39 dollars a night per room, and I have a sick fascination with being in terrible places. From what I've heard, the Lounge is seedy but amusing, a local institution, etc etc etc; however, the Hotel itself is The Place That Man Should Not Tread... which amuses me to no end. We'll be bringing our own sheets/pillowcases/etc, just in case. I'm not that worried - according to this article, there hasn't even been a murder in the hotel since 2001! Any locals have first-hand experience with the place?
posted by FatherDagon to Travel & Transportation around Atlanta, GA (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't, and I never want to. But, if you're ok with prostitutes, crack addicts, related crimes/diseases, and staying in a hotel that people live in.... and if you want to explore the depths of terrible, uhm, yeah, you've picked the right place.

Keep in mind, by the way, that the "2 blocks" distance you cite are two Atlanta blocks, which are huge and often desolate compared to city blocks in, say, New York, so it always felt unsafer to me. That part of ATL is not a pedestrian friendly place, so stay in a group, kids! And watch out for accidental needle sticks/wear shoes. I look forward to hearing how your experience compares to that article.
posted by NikitaNikita at 9:42 AM on February 24, 2009

Man, I had no idea that place was still a working hotel (liberal use of the term "working" there).

Keep in mind that while walking back to the "hotel," you'll be walking along one of the most desolate parts of North Avenue, under a railway bridge (likely), past a burned-out warehouse, and then down a very dark residential area (the residential area itself is nice enough, but I'm sure they have their share of unpleasant foot traffic. You're also in the vicinity of City Hall East, which is ground zero for meth addicts, crackheads, and prostitutes. Plus North Ave and Ponce are, as mentioned, almost completely unsuitable for pedestrians at the best of times.
posted by socratic at 9:55 AM on February 24, 2009

Also, you should "walk" the route using Google street view and note the razor wire on the establishments lining the street.
posted by socratic at 10:00 AM on February 24, 2009

You know what? You'll probably be just fine.

But then, you might get the shit beaten out of you, your wallet, phone and shoes taken, and have to walk back to the hotel after nobody called the police because you look like a bleeding bum.

That part of Atlanta is improving, but it's not a very nice place.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 10:07 AM on February 24, 2009

Response by poster: Does that area compare to the roughed up stretches of SE DC, back like 10-15 years ago or so? I used to wander around there alla time. Gmaps shows the walk to be about a half mile. Considering the volume of attendance, driving from the hotel to Masquerade will probably end up with us parking a half mile away as is.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:08 AM on February 24, 2009

Stay in a group, stay aware and don't be a butthead and you'll be fine!! Atlanta has it's crime but it isn't the hellhole described above. I've been to the Clermont a few times and there was always a crowd going to and from and we never felt unsafe. Be smart and confidant and you should be ok. The Clermont is an experience to behold, you'll have a blast. Welcome down South and enjoy your stay!
posted by pearlybob at 10:14 AM on February 24, 2009

that's probably true, FatherDagon, but that's basically close to the roughest area you could choose to be walking around in at night. I mean, I wouldn't do it. But I'm five feet tall, so if you are big and burly and are totally ready to defend yourself against petty crime (and grime, for that matter, in the Hotel), then feel free. But being drunk and out in the middle of the night around there is basically like painting a target on yourself. The Lounge and the directly surrounding environs are not necessarily SAFE, but they are reasonable; the hike between the Masquerade and the Hotel, I would be less sure of.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:22 AM on February 24, 2009

Best answer: I've walked that stretch before in the evening. Its a longer walk that what you might think though, the walk should not be scary at all. Last time I walked it, a homeless singer guy walked with me the whole time singing a song about me that he made up as he went along. I gave him five dollars for keeping me company and entertaining me.

If it were me, I would walk up North to Manuel's and have some beers, then walk down Northhighland. If you get to Manuel's after the kitchen closes at 1 and you are hungry you will hit the classic 24hr greasy diner The Majestic before you hit Piedmont, its longer but I see more people walking around.

I used to work with a lady that lived at the Clermont with her two kids, it is high to moderately sketchy, but safe is a relative term. If you are comfortable with sketchy people you will do fine. Remember don't look at people or activies to closely and most of the time they will leave you alone.

I choose to live in the city because I think its fun, making everything safe sometimes make it no fun, so as someone that lives and works in the area in question I think you and your group will be fine.
posted by stormygrey at 10:39 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice and info, folks! We'll be a group of burly-ish six foot tall dudes, so i'm not worried about being out alone or anything. Definitely not a 'hey let's mess with the junkies' kind of guy, and our drinking =/= rowdy, so I think everything'll be fine.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:49 AM on February 24, 2009

Best answer: If you want actual information about the crime in that area, visit the APD Crime Map. The Clermont is on the west side of Zone 6, near the corner of Ponce de Leon and Highland ave. You're looking for aggravated assault and/or larceny.

I do hope everything goes well, but please do be keenly aware of your situation while walking around.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 11:04 AM on February 24, 2009

I'll second what stormygrey said above. That area isn't great for late-night eats, but both Manny's and The Majestic are within walking distance of the Clermont and worth the hike after the show. If you want a backup plan, shoot me a note (mail's in my profile). I'll be shooting the show (cameraman, not weapons expert), so I'll be down there until the show's out, just in case.
posted by ASoze at 11:08 AM on February 24, 2009

Anecdotal: I basically grew up living on the little street to the east of the Clermont. I walked from there to high school, down Ponce, and back to Little Five Points at night for years without incident. I worked at that venue you mention in the '90s and walked there and back with no problems. I can't say how it is now but your car might be safer in the paid lot if that's an option.

I never slept in the hotel because of the skeevy factor but I've never heard of anyone being victimized while staying there. I hope they've remodeled the rooms.

The lounge was fun once for the novelty. I wonder if Blondie is still there.

Have fun!
posted by simbiotic at 11:09 AM on February 24, 2009

Thirding Stormygrey. Don't take the bee-line route back to the Hotel. Walk down North Ave (away from downtown, through a sidewalked couple of neighborhoods) to Manuel's, have a McCloskey Burger and your beer of choice, then walk N. Highland Ave toward Ponce (de Leon) Avenue (go left out the front door). You'll pass The Highland Inn along the way. When you reach the corner of N. Highland and Ponce, hang another left. Here is The Plaza Theatre, The Righteous Room and The Majestic Diner (aforementioned). Continue up Ponce, walking toward the distant lights of Atlanta up a street that is never not busy. Before long, you'll be at The Clermont.
posted by grabbingsand at 12:22 PM on February 24, 2009

Please report back on your experience at The Clermont Hotel!

There are a lot of good suggestions above. The Local is another bar to consider if you decide to venture away from your plush accomodations. It's directly across the street from Clermont.
posted by Andy's Gross Wart at 1:39 PM on February 24, 2009

Dude don't listen to all these people telling you you're going to get shot walking around that neighborhood. There's a friggin Whole Foods across the street from City Hall ("ground zero for meth addicts, crackheads, and prostitutes")! For reference, Jane Fonda lives about 4 blocks south of Clermont Lounge and Elton John about 8 blocks N/NE. So yeah, not exactly Mean Streets. This neighborhood is called Poncey Highlands and is one of the up-and-coming intown neighborhoods. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say most of the people who would tell you to carry mace, walk quickly and look down are from Alpharetta or something. Heh.

I went to High School about a mile from the Clermont Lounge (probably the same place as simbiotic, which is weird because it is teeny-tiny) and you're absolutely fine. I grew up on the residential streets directly North of the Clermond Lounge (St Charles/Adair/etc) and never once, through lots of late nights and sketchy activities on my own part, had any encounters with any type of crime or criminal.

Clermont Lounge is definitely a trip, and the Hotel even more so. You should be far more concerned about crabs bedbugs than crime.
posted by jckll at 2:03 PM on February 24, 2009

Best answer: Also, places to go in the neighborhood:

Manuel's Tavern
The Majestic
Plaza Theater (Rocky Horror at 12M every Friday)
Fellini's & La Fonda
Along with any number of great places in Virginia Highlands, a little further from you (but still definitely walkable): Taco Mac, Moe's & Joe's, George's, Dark Horse, Neighbor's, etc etc etc
posted by jckll at 2:10 PM on February 24, 2009

Another neighborhood girl Nthing stormygrey. This time of year the worst part of walking about is the weather, but this weekend is supposed to be only a wee bit chilly.
Have fun!
posted by pointystick at 2:22 PM on February 24, 2009

We need to have a mefi gathering at the Clermont Lounge! Ido believe that Blondie is still performing. Not sure where I heard that so it might not be correct.
posted by pearlybob at 2:48 PM on February 24, 2009

We need to have a mefi gathering at the Clermont Lounge! Ido believe that Blondie is still performing. Not sure where I heard that so it might not be correct.

Oh she's there. She's there.
posted by jckll at 5:10 PM on February 24, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the great advice and food locations, everyone! We're heading up tomorrow, will try to hit up the Lounge once we're settled and fed, then up at the asscrack of dawn to secure our place in the will-call tix line before the hordes descend. Give a shout out if you see a fellow wandering around with a ferocious red beard and bowler - that'll be me.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:05 AM on February 26, 2009

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