In 2015, St. Augustine celebrated its 450th anniversary. For travelers visiting the coastal Florida town, staying at one of its many historic hotels and inns is one of the best ways to embrace the Old World ambiance.
An iteration of Bayfront Marin House Historic Inn goes back to the late 1700s, when it was under the ownership of Francisco Marin, a member of the Minorcan colony who settled in the New World in 1768. Over the centuries, the stately building has served as a single-family home, apartments, and short-stay rentals. Now as a 15-room bed-and-breakfast, the property offers individually styled rooms with private entrances and a free Southern breakfast, along with a daily happy hour with snacks and desserts. St. Augustine’s historic sights and quaint streets are a 10-minute walk inland.
Occupying a gorgeous, landmarked building from 1888, the romantic Casa Monica Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection is a 138-room hotel located near many of St. Augustine's top attractions. The Spanish-villa-like property has a dramatic Arabian Nights theme, as seen by dim lighting, dramatic velvet headboards, wrought-iron accents, and red carpeting. Hotel highlights include manicured grounds, a sunny rooftop pool with large surrounding patio, and an on-site cafe, restaurant, and bar.
A white Victorian bed-and-breakfast with bright blue shutters and river-facing porches, the Bayfront Westcott House built in the 1880s by Dr. John Westcott, a developer of Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway. Colorful flower arrangements, gorgeous antiques, and period details like crystal doorknobs fill the common areas, and the overall ambience is elegant and sophisticated. The 16 air-conditioned rooms have handsome hardwood floors, jetted tubs, and free Wi-Fi. Some rooms have features like electric fireplaces and small patios with views of the river. A full gourmet breakfast (part of the room rate) includes an entree, plus pastries and fruit. There’s a free evening social hour with hors d’oeuvres and drinks, and storytellers recount the city’s history on select nights. Free coffee, tea, bottled water, and soda are also available throughout the day. With its vintage charms, the bed-and-breakfast is geared toward couples on romantic getaways -- children under 12 are not permitted.
The 1865-built Kenwood Inn is a historic hotel from St. Augustine’s Gilded Age, when it reportedly attracted such elite guests as Henry Flagler, the founder of Standard Oil (his famous Ponce de Leon Hotel, completed in 1888, is now Flagler College). The handsome Queen Anne-style house welcomes with a wraparound porch strewn with flowering plants and white rocking chairs. Once through leaded-glass front doors, guests are received by a hardwood entry hall and then dignified, but not stuffy, parlors filled with overstuffed chairs and couches, Persian rugs, china objects, crystal glassware, potted plants, and framed family photos.
Constructed in 1873 in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, Old City House Inn and Restaurant has an exterior of stucco and coquina (limestone composed of shell fragments) and a terra-cotta tile roof. Its seven guest rooms are dark and charming, with wood floors, high mahogany beds, taffeta-lined throw pillows, and iron chandeliers. All rooms have queen-size beds, flat-screen TVs, and private entrances on the home's balconies. The hotel is in the heart of old St. Augustine, across the street from Flagler College (once the Ponce de Leon Hotel).
Carriage Way Bed and Breakfast -- housed in a quaint, late-19th-century house -- fits perfectly into its surroundings in the center of St. Augustine's scenic historic district. Charming period features and ambience predominate at this well-loved upper-middle-range property, while the 13 guest rooms have sumptuous and sometimes even glitzy decor. Breakfast, which is included in the room rate, is a treat, and there's always a free drink or snack on hand in the parlor or dining area.