The latest place to lodge in Savannah may very well be its best. Mansion on Forsyth Park combines classic with contemporary. It isn't a stuffy historic play on this iconic locale. The Mansion creates a fresh, chic destination while celebrating its storied city.
Where You Sleep
Located on Forsyth Park on the south end of the historic district, the Mansion's cornerstone is an 18,000-square-foot manor. Next door, a new building mirrors the Romanesque architecture, looking as if it has been there for decades.
Step into the lavish black-and-gold lobby where marble columns and front desk, a crystal table, and an antique chandelier set off the Versace furnishings. Over the top? Maybe, but in a fun and jazzy way.
Oil paintings adorn the walls--some contemporary, others antique. Owner Richard C. Kessler handpicked the more than 400 original pieces of art. If that's not enough, three Viennese Bösendorfer pianos grace the hotel.
As opulent as the public areas are, it's the 126 guest rooms and 6 suites that satisfy visitors. Each boasts a marble bath with tub and a roomy shower. A friendly sage wall color sets off a white bed. All but 13 rooms have king-size beds, while the others offer two queen-size ones. An Italian marble writing desk, antique mirrored nightstands, a velvet sofa, candelabra, and an armoire with a 27-inch flat-screen TV complete the environment.
Like hotels new and old, each room isn't quite equal. The second level, dubbed the Bohemian Floor, offers an innovative bath design featuring beautiful draped walls. Rates for rooms on this floor range $299-$469, depending upon the view.
The least expensive rooms face the back of the property, the side streets, and the courtyard. These start at $249, while those facing the park start at $279. If that seems steep, consider that Savannah's historic inns typically begin in that price range too.
Where You Eat
The restaurant, 700 Drayton, occupies the 1888 mansion. Multiple dining rooms--including eight private ones--reflect the hotel's style. Curtains between booths allow intimate dining.
The Mansion serves three meals a day and offers 24-hour room service. At dinner, start with the pan-seared sea scallops with salmon caviar ($12) or jumbo lump crab over field greens ($13). The simple entrées such as seared sea bass with asparagus and sweet chili butter sauce ($29) or roasted rack of lamb with garlic mashed potatoes ($33) are best. Don't miss the signature dessert--a white chocolate-banana bread pudding with vanilla ice cream ($8).
The hotel's two urbane bars complete your evening's entertainment. Upstairs from 700 Drayton, Casimir's Lounge has live music every night. Bösendorfer Lounge offers quieter times in its soft blue velvets and brown leather sofas off the lobby.
Where You Play
The pool looks as if it were brought here from Miami, with a marble courtyard, waterfall, and palm trees. In the basement, Poseidon Spa rejuvenates with facials, massages, wraps, and fitness facilities with yoga classes.
Upstairs from the restaurant, Chef Darin Sehnert teaches daily cooking school classes in the 700 Kitchen Cooking School.
The omnipresent art may inspire you to browse The Grand Bohemian Gallery's original oils, glass, handmade jewelry, and bronze and wood sculptures. Whether or not you buy anything, the strong style of the Mansion will entice you to return again.
"Stay at this Savannah Mansion" is from the May 2006 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.