Review: DoubleTree Savannah Historic District

  The DoubleTree Savannah Historic District is located on Bay Street in the heart of downtown.  ( Photo: Hilton )

The DoubleTree Savannah Historic District is located on Bay Street in the heart of downtown. (Photo: Hilton)

A Weekend in Savannah

Choosing and booking a property

For our weekend in Savannah, we wanted to stay in the downtown historic district. Savannah has several parking decks, making it relatively easy to stay away from the higher prices of downtown and simply drive in. However, downtown is such a charming place, both day and night, that I prefer to pay the premium and simply step out of my hotel and walk down to River Street or relax in one of the many squares.

I also wanted to find a Hilton property where I could use my free weekend night certificate I earned by spending $10,000 during my first membership year on my Citi Hilton Reserve Mastercard. (With Hilton moving to an exclusive agreement with American Express, this card no longer appears on the Citibank website.) The free weekend night certificate can be used whenever the hotel has an available standard room reward night.

The DoubleTree Savannah Historic District is located on Bay Street, just up the hill from River Street, so the location was perfect. I generally like the DoubleTree brand and have reviewed the Boston bayside location. The brand is not in the luxury tier but is generally a step above the average Hampton Inn and a half step above Hilton Garden Inn. The Savannah location was also the only Hilton property of the four in that part of downtown that had award availability for a standard room. I booked a double queen room for Friday night via the Hilton webpage for $260.42 including taxes. To use the certificate, you have to call. When I did, I was able to quickly book the same room type for Saturday night. So that we would not have to change rooms despite being on separate bookings, I asked the agent to link the two reservations, which she did. The hotel only offers valet parking, understandable in the heart of downtown, which costs $29 per night. Including parking, our effective nightly rate, with the certificate, would be only $159.21, excellent for a holiday weekend just a block from River Street!

Check-in and arrival...and check-in

 The DoubleTree Savannah Historic District support the Hilton app's Digital Key ( Photo: Hilton )

The DoubleTree Savannah Historic District support the Hilton app's Digital Key (Photo: Hilton)

The day before our arrival, I received an email from the property advising me that I could check in online for Friday night. I went to the Hilton website and proceeded to select a fourth floor room facing Bay Street. The Hilton app also allowed me to request a digital key to be used from the app. Because a digital key can only be used with one app, my wife would need to get a traditional key card upon arrival at the property. (This seems to be a huge opportunity for improvement since many rooms would be occupied by more than one person who may like to use their app.)

The next day I received an email that I could check-in for the Saturday certificate reservation. I again went to the Hilton site but found that the room I had selected for Friday did not show as available for Saturday. Not wanting to inadvertently lock us into different rooms for each night, I decided to wait until arrival to check in for Saturday. By not checking in online, unfortunately, I was not able to request a digital key for Saturday night.

When we arrived Friday evening, we pulled into the motor lobby where we were met immediately by a valet. We were offered a luggage cart, which was quickly filled, and we headed inside to finalize check-in. Reception was located in a lobby just down a short hallway. The lobby was an sizable space that opened out to Bay Street. Reception was to the left, across from the street entrance. There were several computers and printers in a very open "business center." In the middle of the room was a square "sofa" with a modern chandelier overhead. In the corner was a baby grand player piano. (At one point, when asked by my stepson how the piano was playing by itself, one of the hotel staff replied, "We have a ghost...but it's a friendly ghost!") The only negative to this space was the scent. It was not entirely unpleasant, but it was almost cloying to my sense.

DoubleTree Savannah Historic District lobby (click to enlarge)

After approaching the reception desk, we were immediately helped. The associate quickly confirmed both of our reservations and assured us that we would not have to change rooms Saturday night. She did note that our keys might not work after Saturday morning due to the separate reservations. She provided a traditional key card for my wife and handed me four warm, delicious DoubleTree cookies. We headed to the elevator just steps down another hallway and went up to the fourth floor and Room 410. (The next afternoon, neither my digital key nor the traditional key card worked, but a quick trip to the front desk resolved the issue. Unfortunately, I was never able to get the digital key to work for Saturday night.)

The Room

The room was a standard double queen in a traditional layout. The bathroom was immediately to the left inside the door , across from the closet. Next to the closet was a nook with a dual single-serve coffee maker, mini-refrigerator and safe. The two queen beds appeared to be plush - and they were very comfortable - and came with four thick pillows each. On the night table between the beds was a clock radio with built in iPhone dock. (Frankly, this is probably the most worthless amenity to me since, even at home, I use my phone as my alarm clock. But I suppose some people still use these.) Across from the beds was a flat panel television. Adjacent to the TV was a large desk with office chair that I didn't get to use. In the corner beside the beds was a swivel chair with ottoman. It was not particularly plush but was comfortable enough. The air conditioner was great and was able to get the room downright chilly!

Double queen room (click to enlarge)

The bathroom was pretty standard - single vanity and a tub/shower combo. I generally prefer a walk-in shower but a tub is useful when traveling with young kids. My favorite part of the bathroom was the large mirror with a fully lighted surround. The toiletries were by Crabtree & Evelyn - a point that is minor importance for me since any soap and shampoo will get me clean (and with Savannah's summer heat and humidity you want to be able to clean up!).

Bathroom vanity - I loved the lighted surround around the mirror! (click to enlarge)

The general design motif of the room was contemporary. The lamps all had metal bases with creme-colored canvas shades. The swivel chair had a definite contemporary style. This all meshed well with the furniture's dark woods. Contemporary is my favorite style so I was pleased with the look.

Hotel amenities and features

Due to the DoubleTree's brand positioning above hotels such as the Hampton Inn, these properties do not generally offer free breakfast but instead have in-house dining, including John Ryan's Bistro, John Ryan's Pub, and room service. However, we did not try any of these. In my opinion, if you are going to pay for breakfast, there are much better options in Savannah that are just a short walk away. A free coffee station was located in the hallway near the ground floor elevator lobby that was stocked all day.

Lobby coffee station which was stocked all day (click to enlarge)

There was a 24-hour fitness center as well as a business center in the lobby across from the front desk. My favorite feature of the hotel was a somewhat secluded "library" sitting area just off the main lobby. The room was painted a rich royal blue with one wall featuring bookcases stocked with books. I presume a guest could borrow a book, but there were no signs offering that service. Even if available, I would not be at any hotel long enough to finish an entire novel (I am a notoriously slow reader!). I simply enjoyed sitting in the room reading and streaming video from a drum and bugle corps competition late Saturday night, away from the room to avoid waking my wife and the kids. There was also another large seating area across the lobby from the "library" but these are not as cozy or intimate.

"Library" sitting area just off the main lobby - my favorite amenity! (click to enlarge)

Summary

Overall, I was happy with our stay at the DoubleTree. The location was perfect and the customer service and amenities were good. The room was comfortable and, as a bonus, stylish to my tastes. I have stayed multiple times at the Hilton Garden Inn across the street and, while that probably remains my preferred property, I would not hesitate to return to the DoubleTree Savannah Historic District on future visits to this coastal city.