Step Inside Birmingham’s Secret Luxury Hotel – With Only 6 Rooms!

Long known for its architectural beauty, the John Hand Building is located on the southeast corner of 20th Street and 1st Avenue North in the heart of downtown Birmingham. What many may not know is that it’s also the home of an exclusive luxury hotel and club, the John Hand Hotel and Club.

A true hidden gem in a historic downtown landmark, the John Hand Hotel encompasses the building’s entire seventh floor, offering guests a unique retreat throughout six lavishly-appointed suites — each celebrating the spirit and charm of its storied home. As one of the more well-known skyscrapers in all of the Magic City, the building’s prominence dates back decades in Birmingham lore, well before the hotel opened in 2016.

The building was constructed in 1912 by famed architect William Leslie Welton (also well-known in Birmingham for designing the Tutwiler Hotel), and it was one of the very first steel-frame skyscrapers built in all of the South. It was also the tallest building in Alabama before the City Federal Building was constructed just one year later.

Constructed in 1912, the John Hand Hotel and Club is housed in a historic structure that boasts classic architecture, evidenced in beautiful spaces like the common area pictured here.

Common area with tables and chairs at the John Hand Club Hotel

Original features are found throughout the club and hotel spaces.

The John Hand Building was initially branded as the American Trust and Savings Bank Building and was its home for many years. The 21-story Classic Revival skyscraper was eventually renamed in the 1970s to honor the president of First National Bank, John A. Hand, and landed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

Many companies have called the building home over the years, including First National Bank of Birmingham, AmSouth, Shipt, and now Landing Headquarters. Now, thanks to the John Hand Hotel and Club, the renowned building also offers a unique opportunity for guests to experience the history of one of the city’s most celebrated structures and take in some of the best views the Magic City offers.

“A stay at the John Hand Hotel is truly a hotel experience unlike any other,” adds John Hand Club Director Martha Anne Petty. “And it’s also one that not many people know about — those that have stayed here have enjoyed a space many don’t get the opportunity to experience.”

Before opening in 2016, the hotel was elegantly renovated by renowned Birmingham interior designer Jan Ware. She thoughtfully transformed the entire space, creating suites that are understatedly elegant yet comfortable and welcoming for guests. In addition to panoramic views of the city, the suites feature king-size beds, modern upscale furnishings, and large bathrooms with beautiful marble floors. In addition, subtle touches speak to the building’s historic prominence, such as detailed millwork and wood-paneled walls.

Each spacious suite also nods to its historic home, as they are all named after Birmingham symbols and icons. “It was important to us that the hotel really speaks to its namesake and the city it calls home,” Martha Anne adds. “A lot of thought was put into making sure the character and history of the building truly shine through in every detail.”

Suite at Birmingham, AL, five-star hotel

Birmingham Interior Designer Jan Ware transformed the hotel and created stylish and serene suites.

Bathroom at John Hand Club Hotel

Even the bathrooms wow!

Living room area at John Hand Club Hotel

The members-only living room boasts comfortable places to lounge in front of the fireplace.

Adding to the intrigue and exclusivity of the hotel is the private John Hand Club. Birmingham’s premier city club occupies the 20th and 21st floors of the building and is open to members only. The club was redesigned by Birmingham Designer Melanie Pounds in 2021, and all the interiors are sleek and sophisticated yet comfortable.

Members can enjoy an afternoon or evening leisurely, entertain guests or clients, and even host private meetings. The club includes a gym (which occupies the 21st floor), leisure space, conference rooms, a bar, and now The Welton. An onsite eatery named after the building’s architect features southern-inspired dishes with a global touch. Chef Marco Lorino, who has cooked in some of Birmingham’s most prominent kitchens, is at the helm of the members-only eatery, which is open for lunch during the week and dinner on weekends.

The Club recently opened up two tables at The Welton, and they can be reserved by anyone — whether hotel guests or the general public. But it’s worth noting that reservations for the restaurant are required by all diners, including members, due to minimal and intimate seating. “The Welton features fresh and seasonal ingredients, with as many as possible being locally sourced,” Martha Anne says. “The Welton’s menu changes weekly, and we have one of the best bars in the city, hands down. Our mixologists are off the chart as they are highly creative, offering an authentic cocktail experience!”

Full bar area at Birmingham private, five-star hotel

Even the bar showcases seasonal, locally sourced ingredients.

Bar/dining area at John Hand Club Hotel

Sleek and sophisticated, the Bar is an intimate space to entertain guests and enjoy the ever-revolving roster of curated cocktails.

Dining room at John Hand Club Hotel

Open for weekday lunches and weekend dinners, the dining room is a cozy space with Southern-inspired dishes.

While anyone can make reservations for the hotel, membership in the Club is quite exclusive. Anyone hoping to join the John Hand Club requires references from multiple existing members merely for consideration. With that said, joining the club seems entirely worth it — great cocktails, food, and city views are only part of the John Hand Club’s charm.

To learn more about the John Hand Club Hotel & Club, visit johnhandclub.com. All photography by Chris Luker.

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To explore more hotels and resorts across the South, visit our travel archives.

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