D.E.A.L.: (Dining, Entertainment, Attractions & Lodging)
Step Back in Time at the “Dowager Empress of the South” DeSoto or
the Haunted Marshall House or …
With a city filled with more than 400 historical buildings, you can be sure that there are several beautiful historic hotels for those who like traveling back in time.
If you’re interested in U.S. history and staying in a B&B, the Presidents’ Quarters Inn on Oglethorpe Square is the place for you. Originally built in 1855, the twin Federal-style mansion, was extensively renovated in 2007 to include decorative fireplaces and private balconies in certain rooms. The Inn’s elegant rooms are named after U.S. Presidents who have visited Savannah, and all 16 rooms have antique decor, a private bathroom, tall windows and natural light. Many of the rooms overlook the B&B’s courtyard garden, which has a beautiful gazebo. Guests are treated to a gourmet Southern-inspired breakfast that includes freshly baked muffins, breakfast breads, homemade quiche and traditional eggs Benedict.
River Street Inn is a top three-star historic hotel that has three restaurants and is a member of Historic Hotels of America. Built in 1817, atop the bluff overlooking popular River Street, it was adjacent to the Cotton Exchange and was originally used for storing, grading and exporting cotton. The first two floors were built of ballastones, and in 1853 the final three floors were added as office space. Factor’s Walk, an intricate series of alleys, walks and bridges adds to its charm. The beautifully restored and renovated building opened as an inn in 1986.
Another member of Historic Hotels of America, The DeSoto by Sotherly is also located in the heart of Savannah’s Historic Garden District and is one of Savannah’s most historic destination, dating back to 1834 when it was built on the site of Oglethorpe’s Barracks. In 1879, the Savannah Hotel Corp., acquired the site and redeveloped it into a new, stunning hotel which opened on New Year’s Day in 1890 and quickly became known as the “Dowager Empress of the South.” As the center of all social life in Savannah, The DeSoto opened with 300 beautiful guestrooms, swimming pool, solarium, barber, a lighted miniature golf course and a soda shop. Architect William G. Preston oversaw its design, which featured a blend of Richardson Romanesque and Queen Anne-style architecture. The hotel’s current structure, completed in 1968 (and renovated in 1965, 2004 and 2017), stands as one of the Historic District’s leading full-service hotels. Terra cotta artwork and wrought iron details can be found throughout the hotel–originating from the first hotel–harkening guests to the 19th century. The original 1890 crystal chandeliers still shine brilliantly in the hotel’s lobby. The DeSoto has gone through several renovations since then as it has changed hands from the Hilton to the Sotherly Hotels. Determined to relaunch as Savannah’s top luxurious boutique hotel, the Sotherly Hotels spent more than $20 million in renovations and re-opened in 2017 to great acclaim.
The Historic Inns of Savannah Collection include the Marshall House, the Olde Harbour Inn, East Bay Inn, Eliza Thompson House, The Gastonian and The Kehoe House. Their website, www.HistoricInnsOfSavannah.com, helps guests choose which one has the amenities, location and ambience that they’re seeking.
If the ambience you’re seeking involves ghosts, a stay at The Marshall House is recommended. Built in 1851, The Marshall House is in the very center of the Historic District on Broughton Street and is surrounded by antebellum architecture.
The Marshall House’s haunted reputation includes being featured several times on the Travel Channel’s haunted hotel programs and specials and being named the #5 “Best Haunted Hotel in the World” in USA Today and being featured on The Today Show, FoxNews, 11 Alive, the Huffington Post, Yahoo and in Southern Living magazine as one of the most haunted places in the South.
This story originally appeared in the Jan./Feb. 2020 issue of Exhibit City News, p. 49. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecn_jan-feb_2021