Imagine stepping onto the set of a 19th century period movie. Strands of Spanish moss waving from the tree branches. Southern charm oozing from every edifice. Historic buildings, historic homes, historic squares, and historic architecture to pleasure your eyes. Did you notice a theme in that last sentence? Savannah is a historic city, so why not sleep in a historic hotel to complete the experience?
Putting on the Ritz
The Mansion, as its name might imply, will not be found on a list of budget accommodations. This is a spot to choose when you want to treat yourself. Perhaps for a romantic getaway or a fun girls’ weekend. If you desire a unique luxury hotel in Savannah’s historic district, it’s a great place to rest. With crystal chandeliers, swanky surroundings, a hat museum, and courteous employees to open the door for you every time you enter and exit, The Mansion is a good choice for pampering. And it sits in a central location, just across the street from the famed Forsyth Park.
Spacious guest rooms include beds with a carved headboard, a cushy chair and footstool, and a large bathroom with both a luxurious tub and a glass-encased shower.
Which one is the salad fork?
The larger hotel was built onto the original Victorian mansion which is now an elegant restaurant. If you’re a foodie, you can immerse yourself in the artistic presentation of the dishes. My appetite leans more toward hamburgers and French fries. (In fact, one of my weird travel tips is to always pack a bowl of ramen in your suitcase. I’ve been caught more than once in a setting where the dinners were too gourmet for my tastes.) There are two choices on-site with the fancy 700 Drayton Restaurant and the more casual Lobby Lounge which provides live music on certain days. For some reason, room service is not currently available.
SNACK TIP: One word for what food to try in Savannah. Pralines.
Cue the Psycho Soundtrack
Those with active imaginations may enjoy the slightly creepy atmosphere of the venerable residence. Vibrant, contemporary paintings of faces with odd expressions line the hallways. It’s reported that part of the hotel was used as a funeral home back in the day.
Perhaps the creepiest feature of all was how the double rooms contain a window which opens from the bathroom to the bedroom.
Some might feel this makes the space open and roomy, but when you’re staying with a roommate you just met, the lack of privacy is a bit daunting. I attended a writer’s retreat in Savannah and was paired with a wonderful fellow author who became a new friend. But we weren’t friendly enough to leave the bathroom wide-open. She discovered a hand towel propped against the window doors held them in place quite nicely. Necessity is the mother of invention.
Downtown Savannah Outside Your Front Door
After the obliging personnel open the glass double doors for you, step right into the historic district of Savannah, Georgia. Cross the street and you’re in Forsyth Park. Many a wedding is held in the picturesque location, and its classic fountain is a prime spot for selfies. (Our guide told us it was ordered from a catalog. Back in the day, that must have been their version of Amazon.) There’s also the Collins Quarter cafe inside the park which serves Leopold’s ice cream, a local treat recommended by many. This is a cooler alternative to waiting in the hot summer sun. Visiting the original Leopold’s location on Broughton Street might mean a long wait in line to get in the door.
There’s plenty to explore on your own. A short stroll will take you past beautiful Victorian homes, art galleries, and straight down to the scenic banks of the Savannah River. First-time visitors who enjoy a bit of exercise should make time for a walking tour with one of the city’s well-versed guides. They will lead you through the orderly squares, point out the famous landmarks, and maybe share a little tea (the southern word for gossip) about characters we’ve only read about in the history books. (But don’t mention Charleston, South Carolina unless you want to raise their hackles. Apparently, there’s a bit of a rivalry.)
The city offers a free shuttle bus to transport you around their historic downtown for those with mobility issues or people like me who didn’t realize how exhausting it is to walk a mile on cobblestone streets.
You can also pay a small fee to take one of the Trolley Tours which has a stop not far from The Mansion. An insider tip from a local recommended riding the circuit more than once. Different guides will offer a whole new spiel for the same set of locations. Another romantic option for saving your feet some wear and tear is a horse-drawn carriage for a leisurely-paced view of the tourist spots, complete with the old-fashioned clip-clop of horse’s hooves against the weathered streets of Savannah.
So Many Places, So Little You Know What
The Mansion is a prime location with easy access to many major attractions. Two of my favorites were:
The Savannah College of Art and Design
SCAD as the locals call it. This creative space provides a free and enjoyable treat for the art lover, full of whimsy, and a fascinating mix of contemporary and historical (there’s that word again) techniques. I loved how they projected images onto old-fashioned paintings to make them come to life.
E. Shaver Booksellers
One of the best bookstores I’ve ever seen. Or should I say experienced? It’s like walking through a Narnian portal where each room leads to another and another—all filled with books. And a cat named Elliot who was sweet enough to let me pet him. There’s also a typewriter in the corner where customers can create a message and leave it on the wall for future browsers.
Other attractions within a 2-mile radius of The Mansion include:
African Baptist Church
Andrew Low House
Congregation Mickve Israel Synagogue
The Candler Oak
Plant Riverside District
Whether you’re a first time visitor or a Savannah regular looking for somewhere to celebrate a special occasion, The Mansion is fascinating in its oxymoronic combination of southern hospitality and modern art proclivities in the heart of the Savannah historic district.
Basic amenities include umbrellas and a fridge in the room, outdoor pool, and fitness center.
Contact info for The Mansion:
Email: [email protected]
Address: 700 Drayton Street, Savannah, GA 31401
Check back soon to learn my 7 Tips to Survive Historic Savannah.