Renovated Inn Within a Converted 1817 Warehouse
During his infamous 1864 March to the Sea, Union General William Sherman destroyed countless Confederate farms, railroads, and towns, but left the city of Savannah, Georgia, untouched. Historians, architects, and tourists alike are grateful for that decision, because present-day Savannah is rife with antebellum homes, forts, and other pre-Civil War landmarks. One such building—a former warehouse built in 1817 to store cotton—now houses the elegant River Street Inn, a member of Historic Hotels of America.
Set on a bluff overlooking the Savannah River, the inn combines period-style decor with 21st-century comforts and conveniences. Its location in the Savannah Historic District puts several attractions within walking distance; Frommer’s writes, ”If night crawls among the bars and restaurants of River Street are a priority, there is no other hotel better positioned than this one.”
Guest rooms come with tall windows that provide either clear views of ocean freighters on the Savannah River to the north or large, moss-draped oak trees to the south. Polished-brass fixtures adorn the bathrooms, whereas hardwood floors, iron headboards, and four-poster beds decorate the bedrooms to romantic effect. Each room also comes with WiFi access and a work desk, in addition to cable TV with on-demand movies.
Stepping outside into a central enclosed atrium, you can peer over the balcony into the lobby below, where there’s a complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres reception every evening Monday–Saturday. Three onsite restaurants encompass a range of cuisines for full meals, including classic Southern cooking and fresh seafood. There’s also a fifth-floor library where you can read up on local history before heading out to explore it for yourself.
Savannah, Georgia: Historical Mansions and a Lively River Walk
Founded in 1733 as Georgia’s first town, Savannah is not only one of the most graceful cities in the South but also one the most historic. The old but well-preserved architecture landed it on Forbes’s 2011 list of America’s Best Downtowns, and Travel + Leisure dubbed it one of the Top Cities in the U.S. and Canada in 2013. The city’s 22 famous public squares play host to some famous landmarks, such as antebellum-era houses framed by moss-covered oak trees. Head to Oglethorpe Square to see the Owens-Thomas House, an English Regency–style mansion completed in 1819 that now serves as a museum; tours here depart from the original carriage house and go past its charming English-style parterre garden.
Another relic of Savannah’s past, River Street curves for about a mile along Savannah River’s south bank. The cobblestone walkways are lined with 100-year-old cotton warehouses that have been converted into antique shops, brewpubs, and galleries. Explore the riverfront in style aboard one of the Old Town sightseeing trolleys or during a horse-drawn carriage tour. Though the street is tamer than it was a few decades ago—when it was overrun with muscle cars and rowdy sailors—there’s still plenty of energy here, with a lively pub scene and views of large ships lumbering toward the dock.
A five-minute walk west will take you to the City Market, a four-block public meeting space on the edge of downtown. This section of Savannah’s sprawling historic district has established itself as one of the city’s top destinations for entertainment and dining thanks to the many artists’ studios, open-air restaurants, and taverns found here.