When an Innkeeper Takes a Vacation – Savannah

We had a short drive on the second day of our vacation trip, as we had decided to visit Savannah, Georgia for two days. We have spent some time in Charleston, SC in past years; Savannah is like the hip younger sibling to Charleston. Think Tribeca compared to the Upper West Side in Manhattan. They have an amazing St. Patrick’s Day celebration, second only to New York City. We were six weeks too early for that, but managed to enjoy ourselves anyway. The weather was cool for them, but seemed great to us – we had left our Inn with snow still on the ground.

We had arranged to stay at the Kehoe House, a fellow Select Registry member B&B. One of the perks of belonging to Select Registry is getting a special discount at member inns, so we can share ideas and best practices. The Kehoe House is a grand Savannah mansion that has been nicely restored in a elegant but simple style – we saw many people taking photos from outside of the distinctive building. We were warmly greeted by Richard when we checked into the Fiore room on the third floor corner, with access to a shared balcony (little too cold for that, though) and several floor-to-ceiling windows. The room was perfect for us, but does face onto the square where there are trolley and tour stops – not a problem at this time of year but they could be a bother during the busy season.

The room was furnished elegantly with a king bed, and had nice amenities in the bath and bedroom. The bed was very comfortable although it required a little leap to get in due to its height from the floor. The inn has very nice public spaces – a music room with fireplace and a parlor/dining room, so we made use of them for reading and checking our emails with the free wi-fi. At turndown, we got a weather forecast, two cookies, and our menus to select breakfast for the following day, with choices of omelettes, eggs any way, bananas foster french toast, apple pecan pancakes, fruit & yogurt or cereal – more options than generally available at B&Bs. Breakfast was available as early as 7:30 a.m., a nice feature for us as early risers. To round out the menu at the Kehoe House, iced tea and sweets were served in the afternoon, and wine and canapes starting at 5:00. The snack items change each day, and we sampled fruit, cheese and crackers, smoked salmon on toast rounds, mozzarella and tomato, and both red and white wines. The piano room contains menus for area restaurants but it would be easy to ‘dine in’ on the hor d’oeuvre selections and the filling breakfasts that were served in the morning. There were a few missteps – only one robe in the armoire and that one used – which was corrected at the evening turndown; only one uncomfortable chair for sitting; a beautiful but not very useful secretary – the desk was locked – all making me wish that the innkeepers would spend a few nights in the room to see what would work better.

While in Savannah we toured some of the historic district, making sure to see the ‘Bird Girl’ statue from the cover of the ‘Book’, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil at the Telfair Museum of Art and the ‘Waving Girl’ statue on the waterfront, sculpted by the artist Fiore, whom our room was named after. We took a horsedrawn carriage ride to learn a little more about Savannah’s history, and strolled through several of the squares reading the historical plaques on our way. We really enjoyed the feeling of Savannah as a town where tourism, businesses and residents seemed to co-exist relatively peacefully, and we never felt as if we were in a Disney-fied version of a Southern harbor town. We did not take any of the other tours, ghost or ‘Book’, although several are available and some of them come by the Kehoe House.

Our first night out, we walked over to Bay Street and had a drink and a few snacks at the Moon River Brewing Company. Our helpful concierge had told us to drink there but suggested an alternative for dinner, and his advice was sound – the home brewed beer and cider were excellent but the food – ham & bean soup and crab melt – was pretty average. The service was nice, though, and our waiter advised us that a cup of soup got you the same amount of soup as in a bowl, but with a $1 savings – we added most of that to his tip.

Our second day we had lunch at B. Matthews Eatery, a cozy brick-walled neighborhood at the corner of Bay and Habersham. It was excellent and not overwhelming – Jim had an overstuffed egg salad on rye with chips and I had the ham/blueberry/brie sandwich on toasted country white with fruit salad. They have just extended their hours to include dinner and I would have liked to go back if we had more time. We had dinner at another neighborhood place, at 321 Habersham Street in the opposite direction, called the Firefly Cafe – recommended by both Southern Living and Richard at our B&B. We practically had the place to ourselves, so we enjoyed a nice glass of wine and some pasta – I had crab and shrimp scampi on linguine, and Jim had risotto with chicken and vegetables. The meals were filling and the service was friendly – this felt like the kind of neighborhood place you’d love to be able to walk to any time. They have outdoor seating but it was a little too chilly this January evening for that.

We left Savannah the following morning after a quick tour of Forsyth Park to check out the Mercer House, also heavily featured in the ‘Book’. We are already planning our next trip back, though, and hope it won’t be long before we can return.

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