The last time I was in Savannah was a virtual drive-by stop en route to the airport for lunch with the sister of a friend I had just met in nearby Spring Island. I didn’t know anything about her sister – or the city – but I was game to say hello and enjoy a good meal before my flight. Turns out her sister was none other than cookbook author and caterer Susan Mason. A local culinary legend and an irrepressible grand dame of Savannah society, Susan serves up elegant southern hospitality with her distinctive Auntie Mame flair in the stately homes of the city’s oldest families and the celebrities who come to town. I was intrigued by her stories and tell-all walk to her art-rich townhome, each flavored with the sensibilities of a city long-revered as the “Hostess City of the South.” That I would never again experience such a memorably authentic welcome by a stranger in an unfamiliar place was something I resigned myself to, because even as a well-seasoned traveler, this visit was a true rarity.
That is, until my next visit to Savannah at the Perry Lane Hotel.
I am prone to superlatives when I discover some place worthy of words that don’t yet exist because the ordinary ones simply won’t do. Like an exemplary valet staff that doesn’t just open doors for you, but that introduce themselves, like Alex did, and hand you a bottle of water, or a bottomless glass of champagne, as they invite you, warmly I might add, inside the hotel they love working at. And Pops, the congenial gent in the seer-sucker suit who offers you insider tips and a complimentary drive to city landmarks you may want to see. And the hospitality team who refill your champagne as they fill you in on all the hotel’s amenities – and Adelaide Harcourt’s artful adventures – you’ll discover during your stay. And Laura Cunningham, the beyond-knowledgeable concierge who not only knows the ins and outs and hidden gems of a city steeped in squares, haunts, and SCAD-designed treasures, but who is a member of the elite Clefs d’Or, famous for orchestrating golden key access where others can’t and for keeping the word “no” out of their vocabulary. And that is only in the first 30 minutes of an unexpectedly memorable stay at this award-winning hotel, aptly set in the heart of the historic district.
Newly built and opened in 2018, the elegant Perry Lane Hotel, rated #1 in Savannah, is the epitome of past made perfect, and then some. A refreshing blend of understated luxury and all-out home-inspired comforts – think morning coffee, all day long; 5:00 PM cocktails, creatively concocted, generously poured, and gratis of course; sink-in-soft Luxury Collection beds that hug you to sleep; spacious rain showers that may have you rethink drying off and getting dressed; and dining venues that pamper your palate with seasonal fare and chef-proud specialties – this is not just any Marriott Luxury Collection hotel.
For one thing, it’s managed by Sage Hospitality Group, purveyors of perfection when it comes to top-tier guest service and satisfaction. At Perry Lane, the smiles and friendliness of their exceptional team of hospitality professionals, from the front door to the front desk to the rooftop bar, are genuine give-aways for the happy home ambiance you’ll indulge in at the hotel. Add the striking design and vintage chic décor, intimately informed by the imaginative tales of the hotel’s most famous resident, Miss Adelaide Harcourt, whose eclectic travel memorabilia, artwork and collected treasures line the halls, walls, nooks and crannies of the hotel, and you’ll agree there is wisdom to their vision here. Adelaide’s penchant for artful design is also evident in the hotel’s gift shop, MUSE, where clothing and accessories, ready to pack for a whirlwind trip, are hung closet style as an irresistible homage to her whimsical flair.
The art is part of the appeal of the hotel. Thoughtfully put together by NINE dots ART from the perspective of a single collector, Miss Adelaide Harcourt, the collection gives a well-deserved nod to the local art scene. There are over 1,200+ works of art, not counting the unique objets d’art and antiques, displayed throughout the hotel. They include pieces by 81 artists with ties to The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), 75 artists from Savannah, 23 international artists, one work by Paul Gauguin and one by Sandy Skoglund. Guest favorites include a captivating picture of little boy blue blowing his horn made from a cancelled check collage innovatively created by a SCAD student, and the two expressive little sculpted men who guard the ballerina wall near the elevator to the rooftop Peregrin bar and are oft the target of new collectors who would love to bring them home.
The 167-room boutique property is also ideally located within walking distance of Savannah’s must-see sights, midway between fountained Forsyth Park and the riverfront, a block from Bull Street. You can take in a panoramic overview from the Peregrin, the hotel’s undeniably alluring rooftop bar, complete with a sun-kissed pool, before heading out to wander through 300 years of architectural history past its cottages, early row houses, Georgian colonials, Federal homes, Victorian mansions and art deco addresses like we did with Jonathan Stalcup, SCAD graduate and architectural historian extraordinaire. Or you can hop aboard a trolley for a narrated ride past the city’s 23 park-like squares, engaging with “true” tales about the haunted houses and ghosts of the city’s illustrious and literary heritage. Weather and energy permitting, you can pedal to the parks on one of the hotel’s complimentary bicycles, seeing the sights eye-to-eye like the locals do. Savannah is an easy to navigate city with cobbled charms, majestic moss-draped oaks and horse-drawn carriages at every turn.
When we got hungry for a different taste of the city, we returned to the hotel for signature drinks personally concocted by the affable and talented barkeep at the Wayward, before indulging in regionally fresh Southern cooking at The Emporium Kitchen & Wine Market, where the shrimp and grits tantalized with delectable Savannah tradition and our ever-attentive hostess made sure everything was to our liking. It was.
Which brings me back to my first time in Savannah when I was greeted like a long-lost friend by a fascinating resident who uncannily has lot in common with the globe-trotting Adelaide at the Perry Lane Hotel. A visual passion for art and travel. Curated treasures that speak volumes about the interests they share. A fondness for reverie. A love of life. Fine food and fun with friends who are welcomed like family. And a place alive with the spirit of Savannah, where the door is always open and the memories last lifetimes.
It’s no wonder I plan to make my way back to Perry Lane soon, friends in tow.
For more information and to book a stay at the Perry Lane Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Savannah, please visit: www.perrylanehotel.com