Pretty peaceful

Cuisine Travel

March 31, 2023



WEEKEND AWAY: Savor Savannah’s softer side at Bellwether House, a boutique inn that offers the intimacy of a bed-and-breakfast with the amenities of a luxury hotel.

by Cathy Martin  |  photographs courtesy Bellwether House

If your only experience in Savannah involves the rollicking waterfront entertainment district, a quaint hotel on a tree-lined street steps from Forsyth Park offers the chance to experience a quieter, more serene side of the Hostess City.

The 15-room Bellwether House debuted in fall 2021 and combines the charm and intimacy of a bed-and-breakfast with hotel-like amenities such as valet parking (free upon request) and an on-site cocktail bar. Wellness is also a focus, with yoga programs and a mini spa offering massages, reflexology, and a copper soaking tub that can be reserved for calming (or invigorating) herb- and floral-infused baths. 

Built in 1876, the nearly 150-year-old property combines two Italianate-style townhouses, and no two rooms are alike. Modern touches like plush linens and gray-washed furnishings blend with historic architectural elements — ornate ceiling medallions, carved stone mantels and tall narrow windows characteristic of mid-19th century homes. Quaint imperfections like squeaky wood floors remind you the place has a story; in-room details like yoga mats, picnic blankets and luxury eco-friendly beauty products embrace a more current era.

With its graceful arches and soft green-gray patina — and the longest contiguous front porch in Savannah — the hotel’s exterior makes a pleasing first impression. The porch provides a place to mingle with other guests — or a quiet spot to sip morning coffee and watch passersby as the city wakes.

There’s also a spacious brick courtyard behind the hotel, where guests convene at sundown for a Champagne sabering and toast. If it sounds pretentious, it’s not; it’s a celebratory gesture to mark the transition from day to night and spark camaraderie among guests (who, on my visit, hailed from across the U.S., from San Francisco to Boston). It’s also a great time to swap recommendations for local restaurants and shops, historical tours, and other cultural activities.

The cozy, two-stool bar opens nightly at 6 p.m. Don’t let its diminutive size fool you — wine, beer and craft cocktails are served here (the Nimbu Pani — honeysuckle vodka, lemon, mint, and coconut water ice — is a refreshing cooler on a warm day), or Bellwether’s friendly staffers can mix your drink of choice. 

Bellwether’s culinary program was developed by Chef Ryan Whyte-Buck, whose menus are influenced by a variety of global cuisines. A daily brunch served from 8 a.m. – noon is not to be missed. Selections range from grilled shrimp and grits to a divine syrniki — fluffy pancakes made with cottage cheese and topped with pineapple chutney, Chantilly cream and candied pumpkin seeds. The beverage menu is just as extensive, from honey matcha lattes to lavender lemonade. The Milk & Roses — espresso with steamed cardamom and rose milk — is comfort in a cup.

After a day on the town or strolling through Forsyth Park, be sure to return in time for afternoon tea, when bite-sized sandwiches, scones and petit fours are served alongside house-made jams and charred rosemary butter. 

With a location adjacent to both the downtown historic district and Savannah’s artsy Starland district, Bellwether House is close to a number of culinary hot spots like Husk Savannah (a 15-minute walk) and Common Thread (a five-minute drive) from the team behind FARM in Bluffton, S.C. Both are housed in elegantly appointed, turn-of-the-century homes and serve elevated farm-to-table fare.

To sample more of Whyte-Buck’s global-inspired cuisine, head downtown to Folklore (in the space previously occupied by The Fat Radish). With warm wood tones, unpretentious service and a relaxed vibe, Folklore’s menu leans into Whyte-Buck’s experiences traveling across southeast Asia, with dishes like tempura cauliflower (tofu, sweet chili crisp, benne and herbs) and a mushroom pasta (tomato ginger miso, bok choy, peanuts). The South is referenced on the menu as well in dishes like the fried half-chicken with succotash and collard greens, and the pimento goat cheese, a palate-pleasing starter served with pickled veggies, honeycomb and warm lavash.

Back at the hotel, grab a nightcap from the bar, which is open nightly till 11 p.m., and enjoy the quiet moment in the courtyard before turning in for the night.  SP

Leave the kids at home: Bellwether House is adults only — guests must be 21 and up, and there is a 2-person max occupancy per room. Rates start at $325 a night. Learn more at bellwether.house.

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