My momma told me years ago she thought I would love Savannah, Georgia. She went to Savannah on a girlfriend’s trip in the late 1990s following the huge success of John Berendt’s novel and Clint Eastwood’s movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Mom knows her son. I love Savannah and that is high praise from someone like me who tends to enjoy life more living outside cities. After a morning at Jekyll Island, Georgia I found myself in Savannah with free midday parking for my rental car. The deal was I had to be back by 5pm before the locked the gates at the Georgia State Railroad Museum.
Honestly, I have little interest in rail cars, although I find the railroad development history in the USA a fascinating part of our culture that played a significant role in the development of the country. A history I learned from California forestry and also saw mentioned in the southeast from Florida to Tennessee is how railroads opened up lands for timber harvesting, and after the trees were gone, many of these places became real estate for residents who could reach remote lands by rail.
My main interest here was the free parking. I learned last year that Savannah parking is expensive during the day and difficult to find. After 6pm parking on the street is unmetered in most places until 8am.
Last year, I think I walked over 20 miles across historic Savannah to see its city green squares. The development of Savannah was planned from the early 1700s and the city is famous for its 22 squares in the historic district.
Loyalty Traveler – Southern City in Green: Savannah’s 22 Squares (May 17, 2014)
Loyalty Traveler – Savannah’s ’Crown Jewels’ Monument Squares (May 18, 2014) – this post describes Monterey Square with a photo of the Mercer-Williams home on the square, the house from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. This also explains the significance of Casimir Pulaski to Savannah. The Fort Pulaski National Monument between Savannah and Tybee Island was named for this Polish General who died from his wounds during the Revolutionary War in the Battle of Savannah October 9, 1779.
Loyalty Traveler – Hotel Review: Andaz Savannah Suite (May 11, 2014).
This trip, I walked for about two hours across historic Savannah from Tricentennial Park where the Railroad Museum and Savannah Visitors Center is located to The Brice, a Kimpton Hotel and back, in spite of the 90s heat.
Historic Buildings, New Hotels
Savannah is a great place for hotels with character. The city has many century old buildings converted to hotels. Here are some photos of hotels I saw on my walk to illustrate that name brand hotels in Savannah are not your cookie-cutter designs.
Keep in mind that these hotels are all in the Savannah Historic District. Hotels in Midtown Savannah are generally lower priced, but Savannah is one of those towns where location matters, otherwise you have to deal with parking when you drive to the Historic District along the riverfront.
Residence Inn by Marriott, Savannah is next to the Georgia State Railroad Museum. Marriott Rewards category 6 hotel at 30,000 points per night.
Typical for Marriott is I sighted a Courtyard by Marriott Savannah Downtown/Historic District across the street from the Residence Inn.
Both of these hotels are by the Savannah Visitor Center main office for tourist information. You can also pick up trolley cars to the riverfront in this area.
Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard is the street between the Savannah Visitor Center and Courtyard by Marriott. In my quest to find free parking last year, I found myself driving through a large public housing project west of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The area around these Marriott hotels is also the area with several government buildings.
Savannah is a very walkable city. Just be aware of your surroundings, so you are not dragging your drunk self into the projects when stumbling back to your hotel at night. When I say drunk self, Savannah is also known for its liberal open container laws in the historic district allowing the public to carry 16 oz. cups of alcohol. http://www.savannahoffthebeatenpath.com/nightlife.htm.
Hampton Inn & Suites Savannah Historic District is HHonors category 6 and the rate is a steady 30,000 points for the remainder of 2015.
Holiday Inn Savannah Historic District is 20,000 points per night. I find it interesting that the Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn have their entrances on Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, yet their street addresses shown on the websites are the side street names.
At this point I turned east to walk along Bay Street, one of the main streets for historic Savannah with many hotels.
I liked the industrial imagery of the smokestacks behind Best Western Plus Savannah Historic District. This hotel is 20,000 points per night in July 2015. Best Western Rewards has seasonal rates, so other dates could be higher or lower.
Your view of the Best Western and smokestack towers can be yours from DoubleTree by Hilton Historic Savannah. On the next street is the Hilton Garden Inn Historic Savannah. Both hotels are HHonors reward nights at 40,000 points for the remainder of 2015.
Quality Inn Heart of Savannah on Bay Street is 25,000 points per night.
The Inn at Ellis Square
Last month I wrote a post about the new Wyndham Rewards and showed how you can get big savings buying points, then staying at The Inn at Ellis Square. Loyalty Traveler – Pick up a quick 9,000 Wyndham Rewards points for about $110 to $130. I did not remember the Inn at Ellis Square from my 2014 trip, even though I stayed across the street from the hotel at Hyatt Andaz Savannah. Walking past the hotel intrigued me to see more.
I walked to the hotel entrance where there were doormen and the inside looked upscale. I learned the hotel received a Savannah Historic Preservation Award for conversion of the former 1851 Guckenheimer Building into a hotel. The building was an antebellum (pre-Civil War) grocery store for downtown Savannah. I found a 2005 article discussing the renovation of the Days Inn and Suites Savannah.
The interesting aspect of the hotel is I walked around the lobby and examined the reception desk and all the literature around the hotel. I could not fins a single reference to Wyndham Rewards or Wyndham Hotels inside. I wondered if this was actually a Wyndham Hotel?
Both websites show similar photos and the same address, but you won’t know you are at a Wyndham Hotel in historic downtown Savannah, if you never see the Wyndham webpage.
Days Hotel Savannah at Ellis Square (Wyndham site)
Inn at Ellis Square (Hotel site)
Ellis Square is one of the major 22 squares of Savannah. Hyatt Andaz entrance faces Ellis Square.
Andaz Savannah is a Hyatt Gold Passport category 4 hotel reward.
Savannah City Hall is the gold-domed building on Bay Street.
The tree in the foreground is in front of the Hyatt Regency Savannah Riverfront. This hotel dropped from Hyatt Gold Passport category 4 to category 3 this year. I stayed at both Andaz Savannah and Hyatt Regency Savannah in 2014.
Loyalty Traveler – Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency Savannah (June 7, 2014)
Staybridge Suites Savannah Historic District has a great location on Bay Street, across the street from the historic Cotton Exchange and many of the riverfront restaurants and bars. Staybridge Suites is IHG Rewards Club 30,000 points per night.
Emmet Park is a long green space with monuments and shade trees, across the street from the Staybridge Suites. The interior of the Staybridge Suites is comfortable with a large lobby and a wall display of historical artifacts found in the restoration of the building into a hotel.
Marriott Savannah Riverfront is farther down the street and a Marriott Rewards category 7 hotel at 35,000 points per night.
Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa is on the opposite side of the Savannah River and seems to be rather isolated from historic downtown Savannah. I imagine the views of Savannah are nice from there. Westin Savannah is SPG category 4 at 10,000 points per night.
I walked all the way across historic downtown Savannah to see The Brice, Kimpton’s new hotel opened in 2014.
I’ll cover The Brice Savannah in its own post.
Loyalty Traveler Road Trip Orlando to Knoxville June 4-9, 2015
- Orlando to Knoxville road trip in 1,100 miles–my outline of destination articles.
- Daytona Beach, Florida – Babes, Bikes and Speed at Daytona Beach
- Jekyll Island, Georgia from historic country club to State Park This article was accidentally published when I had only described the Jekyll Island Causeway. Rather than delete it, I left it posted and the story of the transformation of Jekyll Island from historic country club to Georgia State park continues in the post below.
- Jekyll Island, Georgia History and Jekyll Island Club Hotel
- Best Western paid me $11 for my Georgia hotel night
- Georgia Sea Turtle Center and Hospital, Jekyll Island, Georgia
- Westin Jekyll Island, Holiday Inn Resort and Quality Inn Jekyll Island
- Savannah, Georgia Historic Buildings and New Hotels
- The Brice, Savannah, a Kimpton Hotel
- Tybee Island, Georgia beach and lighthouse
- Fort Pulaski National Monument and Civil War history in Savannah region
- Congaree National Park, South Carolina
- Downtown Asheville, North Carolina
- Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina
- The Inn at Biltmore, Asheville, North Carolina
- Asheville Vibrant Craft Beer Scene
- Waterfalls trails in DuPont State Forest, North Carolina
- Brevard, North Carolina – white squirrels and Pisgah National Forest
- Blue Ridge Parkway Motor Road, North Carolina
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee