Even if one has less than a week for traveling, a wonderful trip may be planned with a leisurely swing through the coastal "Low Country" of Georgia and South Carolina. By starting one's getaway in Savannah, GA/Charleston, SC, spending middle leg of trip in Beaufort, SC, and then spending latter part of trip in Charleston/Savannah, a memorable trip is ensured. Each of these romantic Southern locales has wonderful bed and breakfasts and historic inns. The sampling below provides recommendations for a small, family owned/operated B&B (Savannah), an historic inn (Beaufort), and a boutique hotel (Charleston). Regardless of one's personal preference for size, cost, and amenities, the inns featured in this blog provide a glimpse of the wonderful offerings these favorite destinations provide.
Savannah boasts an impressive number of outstanding historic inns, and I have personally experienced most of them. However, for guests interested in staying at a smaller, more traditional B&B--without compromising the special qualities and amenities offered at the larger inns--Savannah's newly opened Spanish Moss Inn offers the best of both worlds. Located just a block from Savannah's famous River Street, Spanish Moss Inn offers guests easy access to major points of interests, shopping, and a wide range of places to either grab lunch-on-the-go or indulge in fine dining. One of my favorite restaurants on River Street is The Boar's Head Grill and Tavern, and it is only a five minute walk from the inn. Not only are the meals at The Boar's Head consistently good (typical of a chef-owned/operated restaurant), but I also enjoy watching the ships entering and departing the port when I'm able to get a table overlooking The Savannah River.
I loved staying in The Dormer Room, overlooking Emmet Park, on the top level of the inn where I had the entire floor to myself. However, I don't think I'll be satisfied until I return at least four more times so I can enjoy staying in each of the other tastefully decorated and furnished rooms/suites as well. The decor of each bed chamber is distinctive and reflects Savannah charm. Attention-to-detail is evident throughout Spanish Moss Inn--a B&B that easily "holds its own" when standing along side the larger, corporate-owned Savannah inns.
The warm and gracious hospitality extended to guests by each member of the Ferreira family is unsurpassed. The owners of the inn, Sam and Elena, enjoy visiting with their guests--while sharing a glass of wine and hors d'oeuvres in an inviting sunroom overlooking the inn's walled courtyard--each evening. During the day, daughter Evie serves as the inn's capable innkeeper and is always ready to offer whatever assistance guests may need. Daughter Leah, who studied culinary arts and food science at the University of Hawaii, is the inn's talented chef who serves an outstanding, multiple course breakfast each morning. The presentation of the morning repast is as elegant as the dining room setting in which it is served.
When visiting with guests on my cross-country visits to B&Bs, I am often asked for suggestions on where to stay in Savannah when they hear Savannah is where I live. After my visit to The Spanish Moss Inn, it will definitely be at the top of my list of recommendations for Savannah lodging in the future--and it will be suggested with my highest accolades.
When plans include visiting either Savannah, GA or Charleston, SC, I always encourage travelers to allow time to spend in nearby Beaufort, SC. Located approximately halfway between Savannah and Charleston, Beaufort is a microcosm of Savannah and Charleston combined. I am always refreshed by its unspoiled beauty and Old South charm. Over the years, I have personally experienced most of Beaufort's B&Bs and historic inns, but The Beaufort Inn remains my favorite and the one I consistently recommend.
Even though each of my visits (a half dozen or so) to The Beaufort Inn has been been a memorable one with excellent accommodations and service, I feel the inn has reached a new pinnacle of excellence under the supervision of Julie and Mitch Myers, the inn's new innkeepers. The Myers have recently engaged the services of an outstanding catering service, Southern Graces, which provides an amazing mini-feast each morning in a dining area featuring mahogany wood paneling, a fireplace, and a handsome bar. Breakfast is served buffet-style and includes a generous array of juice, coffee, assorted cereals, a choice of hot entrees, and freshly baked breakfast breads. Lunch, also prepared and served by Southern Graces, is now offered at the inn as well. Another new addition is the inn's Tabby Garden, an expansive area providing an ideal setting for weddings and other special events, located adjacent to the inn's picturesque courtyard.
Understanding that personal preferences and needs vary with guests, The Beaufort Inn offers a wide variety of accommodations. Whether one selects a guest room in the main building, a suite, a private cottage, or a bedroom loft, guests can be sure of tasteful decor and impressive amenities. The Beaufort Inn also offers creative packages, including a Girls Getaway Package and a Beaufort Fine Dining Package. When staying at The Beaufort Inn, guests never need to worry about parking--often a problem encountered at historic inns. A large, well-lit parking area is located directly behind the inn.
Located in the heart of Beaufort's Historic District, The Beaufort Inn is within easy walking distance of fine dining, shopping, and Beaufort's award-winning Waterfront Park where special events are scheduled throughout the year. During my recent visit to The Beaufort Inn, I had an outstanding dinner at The Wren Bistro (only a couple of blocks from the inn). Newly opened, it is quickly becoming a favorite with locals as well as visitors.
It's hard to believe The Beaufort Inn could get any better than it is now, but plans are in the making for expansion as well as additional improvements. I hope to be one of their first guests when the project is completed!
Charleston, SC is approximately 70 miles from Beaufort, and it is a city where several days are needed to enjoy all this lovely old area offers. When visiting Charleston, no better location can be found than The Vendue Inn. Located within walking distance of many of Charleston's historic sites, shopping district, and numerous restaurants offering fine dining, The Vendue Inn promises to impress the most discerning traveler. Operating more as a boutique hotel than a traditional bed and breakfast inn, Charleston's Vendue Inn provides all of the upscale services one would expect to find at a small, luxurious hotel--including uniformed doorman/doorwoman, valet parking, and room service. However, like a B&B, a full breakfast is included, the decor of each guest room is distinctive, and pampering of guests is paramount.
As shown in the photographs above, accommodations at Charleston's Vendue Inn include Fireplace King Rooms (left), Luxury Suites (center), and Junior Suites (right). Each is lovely and makes one feel as if staying in a beautifully appointed historic home replete with luxurious Egyptian cotton bed linens and fine European bath amenities. However, unlike larger hotels, free wireless High-Speed Internet access is available throughout the inn.
Each morning guests select a full Southern breakfast from a menu offering a variety of delicious entrees and served in one of the inn's two dining rooms. In the late afternoon, guests are invited to an innkeeper's reception where complimentary wine and assorted appetizers are served. This reception is always well attended and provides an opportunity to meet other guests, if desired. Following the reception, guests may relax on the Vendue's Rooftop Bar while enjoying panoramic views of Charleston, the French Quarter, and the waterfront. Live music nightly adds to the atmosphere as well as outdoor fireplaces. When ready for dinner, an exceptional meal may be enjoyed at The Library Restaurant featuring Low Country cuisine in an intimate, elegant setting on the main floor of the inn. And there's still more--freshly baked cookies and milk are served each evening in The Music Room. Thank goodness, elevators are available for transporting guests back to their rooms after so much indulgence!
In 1777, Samuel Johnson said that “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life…" In 2009, I say the same thing about Charleston. Things to see and do in Charleston and the surrounding area seem to multiply--and the more I see, the more I want to see. It is no surprise that this enthralling city consistently remains a favorite tourist destination.
After living in The Low Country for almost forty years, it remains an area I never tire of and take delight in introducing to others. If you have not yet discovered The Low Country, it is worth considering for a visit. If you have already visited this coastal area, I hope your memories are beckoning you to return!
Lowcountry Delights Cookbook & Travel Guide, a cookbook/travel guide co-authored by my daughter and me, provides more information about Lowcountry inns and restaurants we have personally experienced and can recommend--in addition to excellent recipes from each.