SD › Best Places to Stay in Savannah
Updated: Janaury 15, 2023
Where to Stay in Savannah, GA
With its Spanish-moss-swathed parks, gorgeous antebellum architecture, historic churches, world-class restaurants, and sub-tropical climate, Savannah is easily one of America’s most inviting cities. For visitors, the Historic District on the Savannah River is the big draw, but unsurprisingly, staying here can be expensive – the city boasts some of the country’s most luxurious hotels and B&Bs, with prices to match, though the good news is that the surrounding suburbs feature plenty of budget options. As you’ll quickly realize, there’s a huge difference in price when it comes to location – anything in Downtown Savannah, where everyone ideally wants to stay, is at least double the average cost of a motel in the districts beyond the city center.
This is likely the biggest decision: cough up to enjoy the atmosphere and convenience of the Historic District, or save money and rely on a vehicle (or less likely, public transport) to get around. Staying at one of Savannah’s nearby beach districts like Tybee Island can be fun, but is really a different sort of holiday, one focused on sand and relaxation as none of the beaches are especially convenient for city sightseeing.
While it’s relatively easy – and preferable – to explore the charming Historic District streets on foot, you’ll need a car or public transport to see (or stay in) the outer districts. Chatham Area Transit (CAT) operates a free downtown transit system. The dot Express Shuttle comprises 2 loops, Forsyth and Downtown, which connect Savannah’s visitor centers, Forsyth Park, and City Market. Numerous buses zip to destinations further afield ($1.50). CAT also runs the Airport Express to and from Savannah Airport.
• Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport is about 8 miles west of Downtown/Historic District.
• The free Savannah Belles Ferry connects downtown with Hutchinson Island and the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center across the Savannah River from the Historic District.
• Don’t rent a car if staying Downtown – there’s no need. Public transportation is good in Savannah and beyond that, an Uber is always an easy option at night. If driving in from elsewhere, consider buying a Visitor DAY PASS in advance: $15 for 24 hours and $24 for 48 hours (this allows parking in city parking garage/lots or at any parking meter with a time limit of one hour or more for a period of 48 hours from purchase. Download the ParkSavannah app to save time.
We’ve covered our favorite neighborhoods to visit and stay in more detail below, but with more time, it’s also worth checking out the lesser-known islands beyond the city center. Whitemarsh Island features the trails of shady Whitemarsh Preserve and is close to the Oatland Island Wildlife Center, home to 150 animals from more than 40 species. The Isle of Hope features its own small but rarely visited Historic District, as well as the Wormsloe Historic Site, an old plantation ruin fronted by one of those stunning live oak-lined avenues.
Best Places to Stay in Savannah
- Best Luxury Hotels in Savannah
Hamilton-Turner Inn • Drayton • JW Marriott Plant Riverside District • Perry Lane Hotel • Westin Harbor Golf Resort & Spa
- Best B&Bs in Savannah
Bellwether House • Catherine Ward House Inn • Green Palm Inn • Inn On West Liberty • Kehoe House • Roussell’s Garden Bed & Breakfast • Surf Song Bed & Breakfast
- Best Boutique Hotels in Savannah
Alida • Bohemian Riverfront • Olde Harbour Inn • Thompson
- Best Cheap & Mid-range Hotels in Savannah
Dunes Inn & Suites • Holiday Inn Historic District • Indigo Historic District • Rivers End Campground • Royal Palms Motel • Thunderbird Inn • Tru Midtown • TRYP Downtown/Historic District
Best Neighborhoods in Savannah for…
- Best Neighborhood to Stay for First Timers/Sightseeing: Historic District (Downtown Savannah)
It makes sense to be based in the Historic District, if you can afford it. This is where most of the action is, home of Savannah’s best restaurants and bars, the most luxurious hotels and B&Bs, the riverfront, City Market, and the most historic streets and mansions – all the ingredients that make Savannah such a compelling destination. It’s also one of the few neighborhoods where a car is not really required, and where free buses trundle around the district as far as Forsyth Park.
- Most Romantic Neighborhood: Historic District
Though some might prefer the posh beach resorts on Hilton Head Island for a quiet getaway, few places in the country compete with Savannah’s Historic District in terms of historic charm and beauty. With Spanish moss-draped squares and wonderfully preserved colonial streets and mansions, it makes an extremely romantic destination to stroll around on foot, peppered with fabulous restaurants, bars, and cafés. It is also home to wonderfully romantic places to stay, from deluxe hotels like Perry Lane Hotel to luxurious B&Bs like Bellwether House. Popular spots and activities for couples include picnicking in Forsyth Park, sessions at Spa Bliss Savannah, rooftop cocktails at Peregrin or Top Deck Bar, and dinner at elegant restaurants like Cha Bella and 700 Drayton Restaurant.
- Best Neighborhood for Nightlife: Historic District
Savannah has a lively nightlife, with the Historic District again the place to be (not least because you can take your drink to go as you bar crawl), especially around City Market and River Street. There are nightclubs, pubs, sports bars, and live music venues here. Highlights include Club One and 3-level Club 51 Degrees; craft brewpubs such as Moon River Brewing Company, New Realm Brewing & Distilling, and Savannah Taphouse; classy rooftop venues such as Electric Moon Skytop Lounge, Rocks on the Roof, and Top Deck; live bands at Barrelhouse South; and the live shows at celebrated Savannah Smiles Dueling Pianos.
• Over 21’s can drink legally on the street in Savannah (in the Historic District, between River Street and Jones Street) thanks to the city’s open container law. Just make sure the drink is in an open, plastic to-go cup (no more than 16 ounces).
- Best Neighborhoods for Food and Restaurants: Historic District and Starland
Savannah has emerged as one of the culinary capitals of the South, especially known for its innovative takes on Southern cuisine. Unsurprisingly, it’s also hard to beat the Historic District in this category, though foodies should check out the innovative scene in Starland District and the seafood shacks on Tybee Island.
Highlights in Downtown include the classic Southern dining at 1940’s institution Mrs Wilkes Dining Room, award-winning chef Mashama Bailey’s showcase – The Grey – in the old Greyhound bus station, fine dining at 700 Drayton Restaurant, innovative Southern food at Husk Savannah, excellent Chinese food at Flock to the Wok, and another Southern favorite, the Olde Pink House. Don’t forget also Leopold’s Ice Cream, handcrafted here since 1919.
Starland District’s up and coming culinary stars includes the contemporary Southern Cuisine at Ardsley Station, fine dining at Elizabeth on 37th and La Scala, and authentic pizzas at Pizzeria Vittoria Napoletana inside Starland Yard food truck park. We also love the bagels at Big Bon Bodega and the justly popular pastries at Back in the Day Bakery.
• Eating at TV celebrity chef Paula Deen’s flagship restaurant The Lady & Sons remains a must-do activity for most visitors to Savannah, and though there are much better restaurants in town, the rich, buttery Southern food cooked up here is pretty good. Note that the restaurant still attracts long lines, especially at lunch and dinner times, so be prepared to wait (it’s walk-in only, no reservations).
- Best Neighborhoods for Shopping: Starland District and Historic District
The indie boutiques and stores in the Starland District include art galleries, vintage clothing shops, and even a vinyl store – Graveface Records & Curiosities. Other favorites include local gifts at the Cottage Shop; home goods at Emily McCarthy & Co; crafts, fabrics, and professional paint brushes at Starlandia Art Supply; and the secondhand clothing at Vintage Vortex Savannah.
In the Historic District, the Broughton Street and Bull Street corridors are the main shopping areas, along with River Street for touristy gifts, and City Market (where you can get Byrd’s famous cookies and the ubiquitous pecan pralines, a local specialty). Highlights on Broughton Street include fragrant gifts and crafts at Pelindaba Lavender and fresh honey at Savannah Bee Company. On Bull Street, look for E Shaver Booksellers, the women’s fashions at Harper Boutique, the artwork and designs by former and current Savannah College of Art and Design students at ShopSCAD Savannah, and the handmade leather goods at Satchel (which was founded by SCAD graduate).
For traditional shopping malls, the Southside/Midtown area further south is a better bet: Savannah Centre, Oglethorpe Mall, Twelve Oaks Shopping Center, and the Savannah Mall in close proximity (a car is needed though).
- Best Neighborhood for the Beach: Tybee Island
Though there are numerous beaches and barrier islands on the Georgia and South Carolina coast not far from the city, Tybee Island is hard to beat. With more than 3 miles of beautiful beaches, low-key development, excellent seafood, and most importantly, a wide range of accommodations (including many budget options), it’s a great family-friendly destination to swim, hunt for seashells, kayak the marshy estuaries, or take a boat trip to view the bottlenose dolphins that frolic offshore. There are plenty of no-frills bars here as well to entertain the adults; a branch of Wet Willie’s, Bernie’s Oyster House, and Fannies On the Beach are all near the seafront (at the pier) selling cocktails and ice-cold beers.
- Best Neighborhoods for Cheap Hotels: Gateway and Southside
The best bets for budget accommodation in Savannah are the outer districts of Gateway (at the intersection of I-95 with Abercorn Street and Fort Argyle Road) and Southside/Midtown (along White Bluff Road and Abercorn Street, south of East Derenne Avenue, a few miles south of the Historic District).
The clusters of chain hotels and motels in these 2 locales are invariably the cheapest in the region. Though not especially convenient for exploring the Historic District, both areas do have good road links, making them good bases for the entire region rather than just the city.
Gateway also comes with the bonus of being close to the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens, the Chatham County Wetlands Preserve, and the bargains at Keller’s Flea Market. Solid hotel options here include: Avid South Gateway, Glo Best Western Gateway I-95, SpringHill Suites I-95 South, and for the best value, Red Roof Inn PLUS+ & Suites I-95.
South of US-80 from Downtown Savannah, the city is known as Midtown, eventually ending up at Southside. Staying here is much more convenient for the Historic District than Gateway, though you’ll still have to drive in and find parking or take the bus. Other than a series of large workaday shopping malls on the outskirts, there’s nothing much else to see here, though. Here we like Hampton Inn & Suites Midtown, Hilton Garden Inn Midtown, Residence Inn Midtown, and Tru Midtown.
• Staying in either area is obviously not as convenient or atmospheric as the Historic District, but visitors can potentially save a lot on accommodation out here.
• There is a third cluster of chain hotels and motels off I-95 near the airport, but these tend to be much more expensive and are only really worth it if catching a very early flight.
- Unsafe Areas of Savannah
Downtown Savannah, the Victorian District, Starland, and the beaches are generally quite safe, though the usual precautions should be taken at night. Most locals would say there are no real “bad” areas in the city, and though the rate crime overall remains relatively high in regional terms (including violent assaults), the main sights and areas listed here should be fine.
The 5 Best Neighborhoods in Savannah for Tourists
The Historic District (aka Downtown Savannah) should be the primary focus of any visit to the city. This is where most of the sights are, the best hotels and restaurants, and the most beautiful, best preserved streets and famous squares – live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, opulent mansions, magnolia trees, horse-drawn carriages, and ships cruising up the Savannah River. Though it can at times seem like a giant open-air museum, totally given over to tourism, it remains a popular place to live with several flourishing residential neighborhoods on the fringes of the tourist areas.
The Historic District encompasses both the Riverfront and the City Market, Savannah’s eating and drinking hub, and stretches south, inland from the river, all the way to Forsyth Park, the city’s premier green space. Soak up the atmosphere by simply wandering the streets and the numerous sights and attractions: the beautiful Cathedral of St John the Baptist, which dates back to 1873; the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home, where the legendary Southern Gothic writer was born in 1925; the Telfair Museum of Art, which displays a huge variety of works spreads across 3 sites; the 1775 First African Baptist Church, one of the oldest black churches in North America and built by enslaved workers; the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum, which displays ship models, scrimshaw, and maritime art; and the SCAD Museum of Art, which focuses on contemporary works curated by the Savannah College of Art and Design.
It’s also worth taking in a few mansion tours. The Gothic Revival Green-Meldrim House, which General Sherman used as his headquarters in the Civil War, and the Andrew Low House Museum, the 19th-century home of Girl Scouts founder Juliette Low, are good examples.
Savannah’s waterfront, at the foot of a steep bluff below Bay Street, is another beautiful area redolent of the 19th century, though River Street is now a fairly touristy stretch, lined with seafood restaurants and bars.
- Whilst staying in the Historic District makes the most sense for visitors, accommodation can be very expensive – there are more affordable options in the surrounding areas.
- Best Hotels: Azalea Inn and Villas • Drayton • Hamilton-Turner Inn • JW Marriott Plant Riverside District • Perry Lane Hotel
- Best Boutique Hotels: Alida • Bohemian Riverfront • Olde Harbour Inn • Thompson
- Best B&Bs: Bellwether House • The Gastonian • Green Palm Inn • Kehoe House • Inn On West Liberty • Justine Inn
- Best Cheap/Midrange Hotels: Holiday Inn Historic District • Indigo Historic District • Thunderbird Inn • TRYP Downtown/Historic District
The area immediately south of the Historic District (below Gwinnett Street and incorporating half of Forsyth Park) is known as the Victorian District, best known for its architecture. Rows of fine Victorian homes line the streets down here, adorned with turrets, towers, gingerbread trim, stained-glass windows, and all sorts of quirky colors. Other than Forsyth Park (and Saturday’s Forsyth Farmer’s Market), there’s nothing in particular to aim for here – the only museum is the Beach Institute’s King Tisdell Cottage, built in 1896 and once home to pioneering African-American entrepreneurs Sara King and Robert Tisdell.
- There are few hotel options in the Victorian District (mostly B&Bs), but they are all in beautiful surroundings, away from the main tourist trail – there are also plenty of places to eat, drink, and to shop locally.
- The Historic District and Starland are walkable from here (and there’s a free bus to the former from Forsyth Park).
- Best Hotel: Mansion on Forsyth Park
- Best B&Bs: Catherine Ward House Inn • Roussell’s Garden Bed & Breakfast • Printmaker’s Inn • Thomas Weihs Haus
Just south of the Victorian District, parts of the old Thomas Square and Metropolitan districts have been rebranded and developed as Starland District, anchored by the artsy shops, bars, and restaurants on once-rundown Bull Street. John Deaderick and Greg Jacobs, 2 Savannah College of Art and Design graduates, laid the foundations for the neighborhood in the late 1990s, and today it’s a fun destination of indie shops and quirky cafes. Highlights include Starland Yard, an outdoor food court, stylish Foxy Loxy Café, and the Savannah African Art Museum, which showcases rare artifacts and art from West and Central Africa. Another local favorite is the Back in the Day Bakery for their signature vanilla cupcakes and biscones (a scone and biscuit hybrid).
- Hotel and B&B accommodation is as yet rare in Starland, though it is easier to find rental apartments.
- Best Hotels: Galloway House Inn • Isetta Inn
4. Tybee Island
Just 20 minutes from the Historic District, Tybee Island is Savannah’s Atlantic beach resort, with a beautiful, wide stretch of sand, a decent spread of reasonably priced accommodation, and low-key development that in general stays respectfully behind the dunes. Other than lounging on the beach, you can fish off the wooden pier, or check out the Tybee Island Light Station & Museum, Georgia’s tallest and oldest lighthouse, and the adjacent family-friendly exhibits at the Tybee Island Marine Science Center. Just over on Cockspur Island (linked by causeway), the Fort Pulaski National Monument is where the Union Army forced a Confederate garrison to surrender during a landmark siege in the Civil War. The Crab Shack is a beloved seafood restaurant overlooking Chimney Creek, while the Sugar Shack has been an island favorite since 1971 for their huge hand-dipped jersey ice creams.
Visitors can get onto the water here with Sea Kayak Georgia or go dolphin watching with Captain Mike’s Dolphin Tours or Captain Derek’s Dolphin Adventure Tour. Ornithologists flock to the island’s North Beach to spot black-bellied plovers, dunlins, knots, sanderlings, turnstones, western sandpipers, willets, and more.
- Tybee Island is a great place to ride a bike; the roads are flat and fairly bike-friendly, and there are plenty of purpose-made trails to explore. Rent bikes from Tim’s Bike & Beach Gear.
- Just to the south, across Tybee Creek, lies the preserved expanse of Little Tybee Island, a blend of untouched salt marsh, hardwood hammock, and sandy beach. A personal kayak or boat is required to explore this nature preserve, and camping is allowed.
- Best Hotels: Beachside Colony • Beachview Inn & Spa • DeSoto Beach Hotel • Hotel Tybee • Surf Song Bed & Breakfast • Tybee Island Inn • Tybrisa Beach Resort
- Best Cheap/Midrange Hotels: Admiral’s Inn on Tybee Island • Atlantis Inn • Dunes Inn & Suites • Rivers End Campground • Royal Palms Motel
Though it’s across the border in South Carolina, 20 miles northeast of Downtown Savannah, we’ve included Hilton Head Island here as the resort destination is only a 45-minute drive from the Historic District. Since the 1950s, much of the island has been developed as posh condos and timeshares, though this has been done relatively tastefully to preserve its 12 miles of wide, sandy beaches, sea marshes on the west side, and woodland areas of live oak, pine, bay, and palmetto trees in between. Much of the accommodation here is managed by Marriott Vacation Club (with lux properties like Marriott’s SurfWatch) or Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, which rents apartments and villa complexes in purpose-built “neighborhoods”, all with their own amenities. There are fort and plantation ruins dotted around the island, plus the Coastal Discovery Museum, which showcases the history and culture of the South Carolina Lowcountry. A little further afield, Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge is a nature preserve of marsh and woodland attracting thousands of migratory birds annually.
- Staying here is more about a beach holiday than sightseeing in Savannah proper – it’s not especially convenient for Downtown, and a car is required to make the most of it.
- Hilton Head Island is served by its own Hilton Head Airport, with daily flights to Washington DC, Charlotte, and other seasonal destinations.
- Best Hotels: Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort • Inn & Club at Harbour Town • Marriott’s Grande Ocean • Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort • Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort • Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island • Westin Hilton Head Island Resort
- Best Cheap/Midrange Hotels: Best Western Ocean Breeze Inn • Holiday Inn Express Hilton Head Island • Simple Rewards Inn • S.R Hotel