To Top

Meet Seija Ojanpera of The Dwell Hotel in Chattanooga

Today we’d like to introduce you to Seija Ojanpera.

Seija, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am a hotel lover. As a child, I would collect hotel brochures as souvenirs on family vacations. I drew pictures of small inns with wine bars and walls of fresh flowers. After years in the non-profit world, I started pursuing the idea of actually owning my own about 5 years ago. I started a luxury retreat center in a mountain home in Georgia, and from there began designing a larger concept. When this 1909 hotel was put on the market in 2015, I felt ready to take the plunge. I remodeled it from a dusty Victorian bed & breakfast to the retro, luxury boutique hotel it is today.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It’s all a bit relative. On one hand, it has felt very natural and smooth as the concepts and furniture and attention and staff and all have come together in such a magical way in such a short time frame. On the other hand, I feel ten years older than I did when I began this process two years ago. It feels like an uphill battle to be ahead of the curve on trends in a small town. And it’s difficult to navigate a predominantly male business and construction world as a young female.

Please tell us about The Dwell Hotel.
We are a hospitality company. We want you to eat, drink, and sleep better here than anywhere else. Our cocktail bar, Matilda Midnight, should be exactly where you want to partake in your favorite spirit. Our restaurant, Terra Máe, should be a delightful food journey, and our hotel, The Dwell Hotel, should be like stepping into another world of comfort and design bliss.

We are set apart by our amazing service and our unique design. Due to our small size (only 16 rooms!), we can give each customer the attention they deserve. From concierge services to having your shirt ironed, we take care of everything. And our design stands out… almost 100% of our furniture and fixtures are actually vintage from the 1950’s, 60’s, or 70’s AND our wallpaper. Our wallpaper is amazing.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I could send myself some knowledge from now to the day I signed the papers to buy the building, it would be to handle negative staff matters right away. Spending too much time believing in a staff person’s “potential” can cost so much in wasted resources… financially and emotionally. A lot of time and struggle could have been avoided if I followed my gut at the first red flag.


  • Average daily rate for the hotel is $275

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Graham Yelton

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in