When the founder of Savannah, James Oglethorpe, went back to England in 1743 he is supposed to have said "Don't change a thing until I get back." He never returned, and to a surprisingly large extent Savannah remains frozen in the 18th and 19th centuries. As a result, the historic district is replete with lodgings in antique buildings, and the more modern hotels and motels are often designed to blend in with the antebellum setting.
The Historic District of Savannah encloses about half the entire downtown area, from River Street to Forsyth Park, and comprising a rectangle roughly two-thirds of a mile long and a half-mile wide. Beyond that is the equally historic Victorian District of the city. You can book a hotel in the historic district and still find yourself a long walk from particular points of interest, such as the Mercer-Williams House or the Savannah College of Art and Design, so never assume that just because a hotel is in the historic part of Savannah that it is close to everything.
East Bay Inn
A 28-room hotel built inside a collection of cotton warehouses dating to the 1850s, the East Bay Inn is a place of exposed brick, aged wooden rafters, wrought-iron railings and antique and reproduction furniture. The East Bay Inn earned a Fodor's Choice award, and the travel guide called particular attention to the hospitality and service. Frommer's found the East Bay Street location a mixed blessing, however, as it was convenient to restaurants and bars, but had inferior window views.
The Mansion on Forsyth Park
With both an "Exceptional" rating from Frommer's and a Fodor's Choice award, The Mansion is one of the top hotels in Savannah. The core of the hotel is the Kayton Family Mansion, built in 1888 on Forsyth Park, the old city's largest green space. The hotel is artsy and opulent, decorated as it is by a rotating collection of over 400 pieces of European and American art. The location might prove a drawback, however, as Forsyth Park is on the southern fringe of the Historic District, and therefore almost a mile from the waterfront.
Spanish Moss Inn
A bed and breakfast set in a Federal-style home dating from 1808 that was moved from the the corner of Jefferson and Hull Street to its present location in the 1960s, the Spanish Moss Inn is set on East Bay Street across from Emmett Park. The views from the porch are of a leafy green setting, the inn is only four blocks from the core of the historic district's restaurant and bar scene, and the rooms are appointed with antique and reproduction furniture. Rounding out the picture is the personal service provided by the owners, Elena and Sam Ferreira.