We left Charleston in the rain and that is how our spirits felt after such a great time in the Holy City, the nickname for Charleston, yet we were excited about what Savannah would show us. On our way out of Charleston we drove by Battery Park and Rainbow Row, the sights we didn’t see while on the carriage tour. I’m sure it would have been great with a narrative on the carriage ride nevertheless, we were glad to see this part of the city. We had intended to take a scenic tour to Savannah but with the rain, we decided to stick to the main routes.
The drive didn’t take long, about an hour and we stopped at the Cider Market along the roadside for some great treats and drinks. Once again, we decided to bite the bullet and stay in the historic district. This time we stayed at the Country Inns and Suites, part of the Radisson chain and a hotel where I could earn Club Carlson points. I thought I was being smart in making a separate reservation for each of the three nights we were there and doing it on the internet (2,000 points for internet booking if you are a Gold Elite; three stays since they were separate reservation numbers). I found out later that Club Carlson revamped their elite program earlier this year and no longer gave points for booking online – oh well. I still got credit for three stays though. There was parking for about 15 cars under the hotel and we were lucky enough to find a space. If no spaces are available, there is a city parking lot across the street where you will be given a pass by the hotel to park there for $10 per night payable to the hotel.
There was nothing special about our room except for the gift basket of goodies because I am a Gold Elite courtesy of my Club Carlson VISA card. We appreciated the snacks. I thought we might have given a better location be cause of my status. The room was directly across from the vending machines which were in the hallway as opposed to a room off the hallway).
We went downstairs to speak with the concierge and she gave us maps as well as booked us on a trolley tour of the city and a boat tour on the Savannah River for the next day. We then asked about a place to have dinner she swore by the Crystal Beer Saloon. It didn’t sound like our type of restaurant but we decided to trust the concierge and perhaps have an adventure and what an adventure we had. It is a bar when you walk in but the next room was the restaurant portion of the building. It reminded me of an old Italian restaurant with black and white old time photos and red and white tablecloths. We had an amazing meal – shrimp for me again. The portions were quite large, so large that my friend “Louise” couldn’t finish her meal. The manager came over thinking something was wrong with the meal. She kept insisting that she just couldn’t finish, that the food was very good but he wasn’t buying it. He decided to comp us their famous peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream. This was by far the BEST peach cobbler I ever had. The crust is what made it so delicious because it wasn’t soggy but instead crunchy, flavorful and delectable. I asked for the recipe but it is a secret so no luck. If I was to rate this restaurant, I would give it 5 stars. It was just what we were looking for and it exceeded expectations.
When we returned to the hotel it was “homemade cookies time” in the lobby which we thoroughly enjoyed as we sat by the fireplace watching television on the big screen. Finally we went back to our room to rest up for our day of sightseeing. I will say that I might not stay at this hotel again. They seem to cater to tour buses – which I understand is probably their bread and butter but it is a little annoying when at 6:30 ish in the morning you hear all the luggage being rolled down the hallway to be loaded onto the waiting bus. Additionally, some nights the “cookies” were just for those getting off the tour bus and checking in – not for us regular guests. Finally, since this hotel is in a city block, there is only room for two cars to fit in the area that was cut into the sidewalk for loading and unloading guests and luggage. On our departure, a tour bus was sitting in this area and I had no place to put my car (I was in the public lot at this time). The bus wasn’t idling; the driver was just sitting on a step waiting for luggage. In the half hour it took me to load my car, check out, etc not a single piece of luggage was brought down. In my opinion, it would have been far better if he had waited somewhere else and then come to the hotel once the luggage actually made it down the stairs and the passengers were ready to move on. It made it very difficult for those of us who were not with the tour group. I became so frustrated with the situation that I complained at the hotel and then followed it up with a call to Club Carlson. The end result – they gave me 5,000 points. Still not sure if I would return to this hotel.
Next up – our tours of Savannah.