Founder, The Dwell Hotel
Seija Ojanpera is a traveler at heart, and fulfilled a lifelong dream when she
opened The Dwell Hotel in 2016. Driven by a profound appreciation for
luxurious comfort and functional, beautiful design, she single-handedly
reimagined one of Chattanooga’s most charming and historic spaces. The
result: a hotel and cocktail bar that set a new standard for sophisticated
Seija has worked in the service industry, in one capacity or another, since
she was 15. Her professional background spans many roles and many
regions, from Costa Rica to Italy to India. An avid traveler and collector of
unusual items, Seija would save money while bartending or being a maitre-d’ in a 5 star restaurant to continue her jaunts around the world. Her studies were focused on medicine, but her career in her twenties was a non-profit path where she developed programs for multiple organizations both internationally and in the USA.
In her early 30’s, Seija was ready to realize her childhood dream of owning
her own hotel. Starting out was no easy task, but along with close friend and investor, Allan Davis, the building that is now The Dwell Hotel was
purchased in 2015. The 16 room building was completely remodeled by Seija to be what it is today. She used her intuition for hospitality, and designed each and every space on her own with no formal design training. All the vintage items were collected in a few short months from junk shops, ebay, and garage sales. She has received numerous accolades for the unique and bold design of The Dwell Hotel.
Her love of adventure is equal only to her love of Chattanooga, and she’s
thrilled to invest her experience and passion into her corner of the city. Up
next is a luxury resort on nearby Lookout Mountain, where Seija hopes to
take her love for hospitality to newer and bolder heights.
Check out some images of The Dwell Hotel…
The Dwell Hotel’s Story…
The Dwell Hotel was open and operating under the name Stone Fort Inn at the time of purchase in November 2015. At that time, it was a sleepy Victorian bed & breakfast with a hodge podge of items and a cozy, bistro downstairs. After an immense remodel and rebranding by the current owner, Seija Ojanpera, the hotel took on a whole new life and business direction. The Dwell Hotel became Chattanooga’s first ever boutique
hotel, and set a new standard for hospitality in the city. Within the first year, the hotel was accepted into the portfolio of Design Hotels, an international brand group of independently owned hotels with high design. With global recognition, The Dwell received numerous accolades for its design. This year, Marriott and Design Hotels have merged companies, and The Dwell Hotel will be in the unique position of being a Marriott property and gaining great visibility and value from their client base, while
remaining unique and independent.
The cocktail bar, Matilda Midnight, was an immediate “hidden gem” for locals and visitors alike. The restaurant has undergone a few transitions and is now a town favorite restaurant for breakfast and lunch called Syrup & Eggs, which is operated and owned by local Ocia Hartley. In the evenings, the space is transformed into the hotel’s event space where weddings, birthday parties, and more are celebrated. In the Fall of 2018, Seija leased the adjacent building to the hotel and transformed it into a furniture and design shop where you can shop by appointment for vintage furnishings, hotel swag, and unusual finds. In 2020, The Dwell plans to stop all use of single-use plastics and continue its efforts to limit waste in all aspects of the business. They are a strong part of their neighborhood, and will continue to source locally, while also giving locally. The Dwell is very involved in Nightfall, Chattanooga’s summer concert series, Tennessee Valley Pride, and the Bessie Smith African American Museum.