The Alida hotel checks all the boxes for a fun-filled stay in the Hostess City.
by Cathy Martin
There are few sights like sunrise on the Savannah waterfront, as you cross the Talmadge Memorial Bridge connecting the city to Hutchinson Island. It’s a peaceful scene in a spot where, just a few hours earlier, tourists — and maybe even a few locals — caroused, spilling out of the bars and restaurants lining River Street.
The drive from Charlotte to Savannah is about four hours, but in a way, it feels like time travel, leaving a city with so few historic structures for one where preservation has been a priority since the mid-1900s. Near the northwest tip of the Historic Landmark District, encompassing a city block between Williamson and River streets, is The Alida, one of Savannah’s newest boutique hotels. Named after Alida Harper Fowlkes, a renowned local preservationist and antique dealer who died in 1985, the 173-room hotel sits steps away from the bustling new Plant Riverside District, a sparkling extension of the Hostess City’s pedestrian-friendly waterfront.
Inside the sprawling lobby of The Alida, warm-toned wood floors, exposed brick walls and midcentury décor create a stylish-yet-relaxed base camp for a weekend in the city. Hotel developers consulted with NYC-based Parts and Labor Design, whose projects have been featured in Vogue and Architectural Digest, on the industrial-meets-Southern hospitality design. Guest rooms envisioned by Austin, Texas-based FODA Design feature oversized windows, cozy reading benches, spacious bathrooms and pillows designed by local SCAD students for a little local flair.
Outside, step past the communal fire pits to one of The Alida’s star attractions: a saltwater pool, heated and cooled for year-round use, with a spacious deck, private cabanas and a poolside bar. More than an afterthought, the pool here is a central gathering spot.
While you’ll have to pay for valet parking, perks at the pet-friendly hotel include happy hours with complimentary wine or bubbly, complimentary coffee, free Wi-Fi and a large 24-hour fitness center. Like The Alida’s sister property in Charleston, Hotel Emeline, there’s a Keep Shop in the lobby filled with wares by local and regional makers, including Satchel leather goods and Salacia Salts candles and natural bath products.
I love a city that knows how to brunch, especially when on vacation. From 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, The Alida’s Rhett serves a menu that ranges from breakfast staples (omelets and pancakes) to avocado toast (feta, walnuts, tarragon and radish on sourdough) to sandwiches, along with Bellinis, mimosas and a bloody mary bar.
Dinner at Rhett is seafood-focused with a Southern slant, with shareables like tuna crudo, a seafood tower (oysters, snow crab claws, shrimp, citrus marinated tuna and smoked fish dip), and mussels with hand-cut truffle fries and a local beer sauce. Even landlubbers will love the cheddar drop biscuits with a Cheerwine glaze and country ham, or the mushroom tartine: roasted local mushrooms with fresh herbs and Boursin on focaccia. Mains include a bacon-wrapped, stuffed rainbow trout with mushrooms, leeks and a cured lemon pan sauce; a stellar shrimp and grits with andouille and smoked tomato gravy; and a crispy chicken with Carolina gold rice, red peas and red-eye gravy.
For a nightcap, head to The Lost Square, Alida’s laidback rooftop bar or, if it’s open, The Trade Room, the hotel’s sleek and stylish lobby bar.
Savannah is known for its food scene, and nearly everything is within walking distance of the hotel. There’s a concierge on-site if you need recommendations, but if you choose to venture out on your own, there are plenty of great choices nearby. The Grey is a must-visit — if you can snag a reservation. Housed in a 1938 art-deco style Greyhound bus terminal, award-winning Chef Mashama Bailey’s menu combines classic techniques with seasonal, local ingredients and unexpected presentations. Collins Quarter is another mainstay — the breakfast and lunch hot spot is always packed but worth the wait. For a slice of classic Savannah, head to Vinnie Van Go-Gos, a pizzeria just two blocks from the hotel.
Savannah is a walking town, and the 30-acre Forsyth Park, with its iconic fountain and massive oaks dripping with Spanish moss, is a quieter alternative to the touristy River Street. At dusk, groups gather in the city’s 22 squares for ghost tours — Savannah boasts it’s America’s most haunted city. Whether you’re a history buff, architecture enthusiast, foodie or art lover, there’s plenty to explore in Savannah. SP
On previous visits to Savannah, I was too busy soaking in the Southern charm and eating and drinking my way across town to browse the local stores. But beyond all the tourist T-shirt shops — plus countless fine antique stores and bookshops — Savannah has a bounty of boutiques ready to burn a hole in your wallet.
Asher + Rye – After running an online shop, husband and wife interior-design duo Joel and Erika Snayd opened this lifestyle boutique with a serene Scandinavian vibe in late 2020. Located in the Downtown Design District, the shop has it all, from bath and bedding, home décor, men’s and women’s apparel, children’s clothing and accessories, gourmet foods, and pet products. There’s even a coffee bar — grab an espresso and immerse yourself in the shop’s soothing, chic aesthetic.
One Fish Two Fish has anchored the corner of Whitaker and Jones streets since 1998, selling upscale home furnishings — much of it coastal-inspired — plus leather goods, bath and body products, pajamas and more. Don’t leave before checking out its sister store, The Annex, a women’s apparel shop where you’ll find breezy, relaxed styles from labels including Emerson Fry, Banjanan, Oliphant and Olivia James The Label.
A block down from The Annex on Whitaker Street, Hannah E. is a boutique with a curated collection of of-the-moment looks from brands including Hunter Bell, SEA New York, Rebecca Taylor, Vince and Zadig & Voltaire.
ShopSCAD is filled with an array of student-designed jewelry, pottery, paintings, stationery and more.
On a busy downtown corner, you’ll find The Paris Market — if the elaborate window displays don’t draw you in, the smell of espresso from the darling in-store café might. Sip a honey lavender latte (or a glass of Champagne) then peruse the shop’s curated assortment of jewelry, books, candles, home goods, beauty products and more.
Terra Cotta on Barnard Street sells women’s apparel (Xirena and Velvet are among the labels here); shoes; jewelry from local designers along with well-known brands like Chan Luu; apothecary items; small leather goods; and handmade Balinese bags.
If searching for hidden treasure is more your thing, pop over to Wright Square Vintage & Retro Mall and wander among more than 30 stalls filled with vintage records, prints and other collectibles.
Back at the Plant Riverside District, Urban Poppy offers candles, bath and body products, and gourmet gifts in a bright and cozy flower-filled storefront.
Down on the historic waterfront, River Street Sweets is a Savannah mainstay for families with kids, or anyone with a sweet tooth — pralines, fudge and saltwater taffy are just a few of the sugary confections made in-house. SP