Planning is arguably the most tedious part of a vacation experience. Not only are there logistics to consider but anticipating the unexpected can be pretty draining as well. Uncertainty is sure to overshadow whether you have picked the right place to stay. Sure you’ve done your homework on tripadvisor but are the reviews relevant to your own personal standards? How can you be sure you’ll enjoy the place where you’ll spend half your time? I’ve made it easy for you if you’re headed to St. Augustine. The Inns of Elegance, a partnership of 5 independently run historic inns are unique in many ways including personalized service, period furnishings, modern comforts, and prime Old City addresses. Here are 3 of these inns that also have distinctive signature food offerings:
Bayfront Marin House
I stayed here for a few nights in their recently remodeled Princess Margaret room on the second floor right off a spacious deck overlooking Matanzas Bay. An ornately wood carved Queen bed decorated in rich blue and gold with antique furniture, wood floors, and double French doors leading to the corner double Jacuzzi in the bathroom promoted tranquility and private time.
Owners Sandy and Mike Wieber go out of their way to make you feel like you’re the only guest on the property. Each day you get a card to fill-out for pre-ordering your breakfast requests: simply choose Chef Mary’s daily hot entrees like banana pancakes, bacon stratas, or French toast along with unlimited sides like homemade muffins, fresh fruit salads, cereals, bagels,
and croissants. All breakfasts come with fresh squeezed Florida orange juice.
The crowning touch here is their happy “hour” served every day from 5:00 – 7:00. My favorites were their pitchers of both red and white homemade sangrias filled with loads of seasonal fruits. And if you’re lucky enough to be staying here on a Wednesday during July and August, you get the distinct honor of sampling Mike’s homemade ice cream with flavors ranging from banana oreo to strawberry chocolate chip cheesecake.
St. Francis Inn
The grand daddy of historic St. Augustine inns, the St Francis Inn is nestled on the oldest block in town which includes The Oldest House in the United States. Out back, a private walled garden with a fountain and well gives you the feeling that this has been a key
outpost for quite some time. In this instance, your intuition is correct since the inn dates from 1791 and remained a private residence until 1845 when it was operated as a guest house under many names until 1948 when it was finally dubbed “The St. Francis Inn.”
Guests get full gourmet buffet breakfasts featuring the inn’s signature house
made granola, and nightly homemade desserts. Private balconies and porches, a swimming pool, bicycles, and evening socials keep activities within your grasp at all times…..if you are so inclined. Owner Joe Finnegan is quick to point out that “you can do as much or as little as you like and be as social or private as you feel like. There are no unspoken expectations of guests in this regard.”
Guests receive complimentary admission to the Saint Augustine Lighthouse and Museum, and 50% off admission to the Oldest House. Besides complimentary use of beach chairs and towels, the St. Francis offers inn guests day usage of a beach front cottage only 8 miles away. You get the best of bed and breakfast pampering, old city ambiance, and St. Augustine beach frolicking all in the same day!
From the wide veranda in front to the cozy interior featuring the intimate oak-paneled Tini Martini Bar, Casablanca Inn oozes historic southern charm. Even though architectural details in this lovingly restored 1914 Mediterranean revival bed and breakfast
inn are meticulously preserved, the latest in luxury amenities seamlessly enhance your stay. Panoramic Matanzas Bay views,
in-room whirlpool tubs, private entrances & porches, and individual climate controls along with antique furnishings grace Casablanca’s 23 elegant suites and rooms. There is also a “Secret Garden” oasis available as a tranquil retreat.
The “bed” part of the bed & breakfast experience is certainly not forgotten here! It took Casablanca Innkeepers Michael Miles and Nancy Cloud years of testing the best night’s sleep as they traveled around the globe. According to Michael: “We only want the best for our guests. It starts with a Select Comfort Sleep Number bed topped with an Isotonic pillow-top mattress cover. Then 400-count cotton sateen sheets & pillow cases are ensconced in a hypoallergenic feather bed cover.”
In addition to the delicious homemade breakfasts, guests here get a $15 bar credit per room per night for drinks at the Tini Martini Bar. Now there’s no excuse to miss out on sampling their four luscious “Espress-oh-Tinis”, a wide selection of “Fruitinis”, and the “Kiss on the Lips” that I savored while watching the sun set over the Bridge of Lions.
photos and video courtesy of Steve Mirsky. Coverage made possible by participating in a sponsored trip