7 Unique Lodging Experiences

Where To Stay When Visiting Chattanooga

If you’re looking for an experience rather than “just a place to stay,” check out one of these nostalgic, quirky, or jaw-dropping properties.

By Andrew Shaughnessy

The LayLow in the Southside District

Owned By: Chattanooga Architects Heidi Hefferlin
and Craig Kronenberg

Architecture by Hefferlin + Kronenberg Architects, PLLC
Photography by Harlan Hambright

If you’re familiar with local architects and architecture, you’ve probably heard the names Heidi Hefferlin and Craig Kronenberg. The duo is widely known for championing the revitalization of the Southside district. But what you might not know is that one of their most recent projects, the LayLow, began as a gambling club for men.

The Lay Low Lounge sat across the street from the architects’ Southside home for years. It was by all accounts a quiet place, as gambling joints go – a 40”x40” cinderblock watering hole haunted by gentlemen who crowded the doorframes on race days to place their bets. But people get older and old habits lose their shine, and so one day the Lay Low Lounge closed down.

Hefferlin and Kronenberg seized the opportunity to develop the concrete shell left behind. They bought the building, intending to design it as an age-in-place residence for their elderly parents. But circumstances changed and instead they built a luxurious, open design B&B called the LayLow – a tip of the hat to the neighborhood standby from which it sprang.

The original building was gutted, the exterior walls were removed, and roof trusses were added for support. Today, the space is bright, modern, efficient, and above all, open. A grassy yard gives way to a covered, wood-paneled porch, which stretches along a wall of floor-to-ceiling glass doors off the combined living room, dining room, and kitchen. Guests can enjoy the privacy of three bedrooms and a bath in the back (all told, the place can sleep up to seven), or throw open the glass doors and grill out for the whole block.

The LayLow has been featured in Architect Magazine and won the Award of Excellence at the 2015 American Institute of Architects (Tennessee) Design Awards, highlighted as an example of both excellent design and architecture as activism to revitalize a neighborhood.


Battlefield Station on Lookout Mountain

Owned By: Longtime Chattanooga Residents Cam and Cara Cameron

Photo by Lanewood Studio

Nestled directly off the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park on the side of Lookout Mountain, this turn-of-the-century chinking log cabin is any Civil War buff’s dream. The owners, Cam and Cara Cameron, have channeled their love for history into a cozy, convenient lodging experience that is brimming with local lore.

Inside, original oak and pine from floor to ceiling is complemented by Civil War-themed décor. Just through the front door is the great room, which features a magnificent vaulted ceiling, hefty rafters, a rustic chandelier, and a mountain stone gas log fireplace.

Guests can read up on “The Battle Above the Clouds” in one of the cabin’s two bedrooms (which sleep up to four), relax on the covered back porch’s plentiful seating, or wander down to the lower back deck, which is encircled by woods, gardens, and fish ponds. Or, they can take a short walk to the Incline Railway, Cravens House, or several different trail heads leading to scenic overlooks (maps are provided in the cabin).


Treetop Hideaways in Flintstone, Georgia

Owned By: Entrepreneurs Enoch Elwell and Andrew Alms

Photos Courtesy of Treetop Hideaways

Remember those long summer days climbing into treehouses in the backyard? Treetop Hideaways founders Enoch Elwell and Andrew Alms have harnessed that nostalgia to create a treetop experience invoking childlike wonder (but is far classier than the ramshackle fort you made when you were 11).

Rustic and cozy, the climate-controlled interior is a Pinterest fanatic’s dream. Twinkle lights reflect like stars from windows made of recycled glass, and a flight of stairs leads to a loft bedroom overlooking the valley. Lodgers can curl up on the couch by an old-timey gramophone or head outside to roast marshmallows over a campfire.

True to its natural surroundings, the treehouse is made with reclaimed materials – from the hot water heater to the composting toilet to wooden boards claimed from an old barn in Georgia. And to top it all off, the treehouse’s mini kitchenette is stocked with goods from local businesses including Mayfly Coffee, Good Fortune Soap, Positiffitea, and Noke’s Granola. Even the complimentary bottle of wine is bought through a local store (Imbibe) and importer (Panoram Imports).


Artists Gallery Residence in the Southside District

Owned By: Local Artists Tom Paulsin and Miki Boni

Photos by Beacon Imagery

Tucked away in the vibrant Southside district, Artists Gallery Residence is a beautifully restored red brick Victorian filled to the brim with art and character.

Artists and owners Tom Paulsin and Miki Boni fell in love with the hundred-year-old house in 2007 after an ArtsWorks grant led them to relocate to Chattanooga. Over a two-year period, Paulsin, a carpenter and sculptor, restored the home to its former glory, while Boni filled the walls with her original expressionist paintings. Now the couple lives and works upstairs and rents out the entire downstairs, which can comfortably accommodate up to six people.

The aesthetic is funky, yet comfortable. Guests enjoy an expansive front porch (Boni hosts pet portrait sessions here during MainX24), a full kitchen, and cozy, yet modern furnishings. Boni’s vibrant artwork – a collection of pet portraits and still lifes – graces the walls of every room, giving guests the feel of living in a gallery.

The location is ideal for exploring the revitalized Main Street corridor, with scores of shops and restaurants just a few blocks away. Guests can also hop over to Market Street and catch the free shuttle to the downtown riverfront. 

The Roost at Everlee Farm in East Brainerd

Owned By: Urban Farmers Philip and Jennifer Clay

Photo by Lanewood Studio (interior)

Smack dab in the middle of East Brainerd is Everlee Farm, a 20-acre urban farm that hosts events, keeps honeybees, and supplies homegrown produce to local restaurants. Just last year, owners Philip and Jennifer Clay designed The Roost – a rentable space right on the edge of the farm’s summer garden.

Inside, vaulted ceilings and an open floorplan creates a sense of spaciousness, and a sliding barn door opens to reveal a separate bedroom. During the day, layers of natural light flood in through ample windows looking out over the pastoral landscape; the effect is intentionally peaceful, cozy, and, as Jennifer puts it, “full-on nature.”

In the spring and summer, sunflowers peek over the window edge, and guests are provided with fresh eggs from the chickens roaming the yard. Those looking for a taste of farm life can try their hand at planting vegetables or picking tomatoes and peppers off the vine to make fresh salsa. On request, the Clays will also put together a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) take-home box of vegetables harvested just outside your front door.

The Roost’s slightly elevated construction offers a high vantage point from which to view a family of deer frequenting the back field.

Yurt Village at Cloudland Canyon State Park

Owned By: Georgia State Parks

If you enjoy that elusive middle ground between a tent and a cabin, a yurt might be your ticket to happy camping. In 2013, Cloudland Canyon introduced its secluded “Yurt Village” – a glamper’s paradise with 10 yurts available by reservation.

Made of thick canvas and supported by wood framing, each yurt sleeps up to six people and is outfitted with lights, outlets, a ceiling fan, and a space heater. Picnic tables, grills, and nearby bathrooms with hot showers complete the set-up for a more comfortable alternative to typical campsites.

Campers can relax in Adirondack chairs on the back deck, take the kids to the Yurt Village playground (the newest in the park), or mosey over to the nearby West Rim Trail. More than 30 miles of separate hiking and mountain biking trails are within short distance, making the Yurt Village is an ideal home base for excursions to the park’s thousand-foot canyons and beautiful waterfalls.

Live a Little Chatt in Wildwood, Georgia

Owned By: Business Partners Brian Morris and Joe Curro

Side by side with any description of a tiny house, you’ll hear about “tiny living” and the “tiny house movement.” With many Americans putting a third to one-half their income towards their home, tiny living offers a freedom and simplicity that, while not for everyone, is certainly compelling.

It was this philosophy that first interested Brian Morris in building tiny houses. Then a hang gliding instructor on Lookout Mountain, he built his first tiny home, “Shangri-Little,” with the help of some friends in 2014. After Shangri-Little was featured on FYI’s Tiny House Nation, Morris was contacted by Joe Curro, who was interested in building a tiny house retreat for his wife, Erin. Before long, Morris and Curro found their tiny homes were generating so much interest that they formed Live a Little Chatt to share their passion. They circled up their houses into a Tiny House “Resort,” built two more, and began renting them out to people looking for a taste of tiny living.

Today, guests can choose between four tiny homes, each of which boasts a differing sensibility. Shangri-Little, Morris’ first tiny house, packs a three-story punch with a combined living and kitchen area on level one, loft bedroom on level two, and rooftop deck on level three. Curro’s original tiny house, Old Blue Chair, is modeled after Erin’s love for a rustic-farmhouse-meets-glam look (think: whitewashed walls, farmhouse sink, and a “Harry Potter”-esque reading nook). The Bedrock Cave House, created in collaboration with a local sculpture artist, is crafted from rock façade (it looks like a Hobbit hole straight out of a storybook, but has a surprisingly modern and spacious interior). The Wandering Gypsy is made almost entirely from recycled materials, and its smaller floorplan offers guests the true experience of tiny living.

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