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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Savannah, Georgia / Homewood Suites Savannah Historic District/Riverfront

November-December 2016, Weekdays, 4 nights, 2-Queen 1-bedroom suite 502

Sunrise from suite 502

Diamond perks and arrival/check-in

We initially reserved a king balcony riverfront studio with points for one night (this was the best points room type available), and we were paying for a king studio riverfront without a balcony the other three nights of our stay. Shortly before our stay, we learned the pool and rooftop area had been closed for renovations, so we wanted to make sure we could stay in a guestroom with a balcony, and it would be even better, if we did not have to change rooms during our stay. I checked the Hilton website for the "upgrade with points" option, and I called the hotel a couple of times before our arrival to ask about this. I was told they w/could not upgrade us to a balcony guestroom for the paid nights, so I paid the difference for a 2-queen, 1-bedroom suite (there were no king balcony rooms available). The employe implied that she could not give me an upgrade for both reservations.

We arrived in Savannah before check-in time. After we parked in town (more info about this later), we stopped at the front desk to find out when our room would be available. The agent said our guestroom was already available; however, she gave us keys for a king studio balcony, and she did not mention the second portion of our stay. I had referenced both confirmation numbers in my reservation comments, and I had asked the hotel to tie the reservations together when I called. Additionally, I had been told we could have the queen bedroom balcony guestroom the entire stay, and that this could possibly become a king guestroom and/or higher floor room, if one became available before our arrival. I mentioned all of this to the front desk agent after I asked about the guestroom details (she had not provided any information), when she handed me the keys. She studied the computer a few moments, and then she coded new keys for suite 502. I am not sure if she checked for a higher floor or king balcony room, as she did not say anything more about the guestroom. She provided information about the hotel food & beverages, and she asked if we had used valet parking. She did not recognize my status.

View of Marriott from bedroom window

Suite 502

We carried our backpack to suite 502 to make sure where it was located before we left to get our luggage from the car. This is a riverfront guestroom located on the 5th floor of this 8-floor hotel. It was spacious and clean.

Diagram on back of guestroom door
The kitchen and living area were located in the room just inside the entrance. The wall along the right contained a full size fridge, dishwasher, stovetop, sink, coffeemaker with supplies, dishwasher detergent, and cupboards with some dishes. An ice bucket was provided. The freezer did not have an ice maker; one lone cube tray was provided. I used this to make ice, as it made better cubes than the ones in the ice machine. I popped them out onto a plate after they became frozen. The fridge in this guestroom had two problems: something leaked inside because there was standing water on the top shelf every time we opened it, and the door seal was damaged; it stuck to the fridge, pulling away from the door every time we opened the door. My husband tried to fix the seal by affixing it back to the door with his hands; however, this fix did not last for more than one day. The front desk agent did not ask about our stay when we checked out, so I forgot to mention this. I did mention it when I filled out the Hilton survey after our stay, so hopefully this has been corrected.

The living area left of the entrance door contained an end table with lamp, sofa, floor lamp, footstool/coffee table combination (like shown in the hotel website photos), flatscreen TV on an armoire, and a table against the wall with one straight-backed chair. The table against the wall was a table like the ones shown in the hotel website photos with white chairs. There was only table chair, and there was no soft chair in the suite. Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of the kitchen and living room area. I glimpsed suite 501 across the hall when housekeeping was in the guestroom, and I observed a soft chair in the living room of that suite.

View of parking lot and river from balcony
The balcony in suite 502 contained two outside chairs. We did not sit outside much, as there was not a lot of room on the balcony, although we did stand outside on the balcony frequently. We actually moved one of the balcony chairs inside, so we would have more room on the balcony. We had an excellent view from the balcony to watch the ships coming and going.

View from bedroom door
The bedroom contained two queen size beds, a nightstand with lamp, alarm clock, flatscreen TV on an armoire, closet, and desk with chair. I sometimes forget to check the alarm clock in hotel rooms when we arrive, and I forgot to check the clock for this stay. It had not been turned off, and the alarm went off at 6:00 a.m. the first morning! There was a telephone on the nightstand, and one on the table in the living room. The closet contained extra bedding, hangers, and a folding luggage rack. I did not count the number of hangers in the closet; we could have used one or two more hangers for our 4-night stay.

Bedroom in suite 502
The bedding was good quality; however, the mattress was uncomfortable. We ended up trying both beds because the first bed we tried felt like it had a dip. The second bed was not any better than the first one. The windows in the bedroom did not open.

View from edge of bed
The bathroom was located off the bedroom near the beds. The vanity and a full length mirror were located between the bed and bathing area. Neutrogena bath amenities, glass glasses, a hairdryer, and good quality towels were provided. There was not much room on the vanity, so we kept our personal items in the drawers. The bathing area contained a toilet, and tub/shower combination. We would have preferred one of the nice walk-in showers shown on the hotel website in the king guestrooms; however, we were glad to have a balcony with the rooftop being closed.

Another balcony view showing the furniture on neighboring balconies, 
the parking lot, and nearness of the ships and Savannah River
The guestroom was well soundproofed. The only noise we heard was water running or a toilet flushing when in the bathing area of the bathroom. The complimentary Internet connection speed was good; however, we had to log back in every day. If we were doing something on the Internet 24 hours later, we were disconnected and had to start over. Housekeeping service was excellent for the most part. On our last day, the suite was cleaned later than usual, and a couple of amenities had not been replenished: cleansing cloths and a new evening social calendar, as it was a new month.

Food & Beverage

The evening social and morning breakfast buffet were both fabulous. Another impressive Homewood Suites social I attended was in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois in 2011.

Evening social
This Homewood Suites provided the following in the mornings: coffee with flavored creamers, hot chocolate, juices, water, fresh whole fruit, cut fruit, white and whole-grain breads and bagels, pastries and/or muffins, alternating eggs (scrambled, folded omelet, and I do not recall the other types), alternating potatoes (hash browns and red potatoes), alternating meats (bacon once; sausage links twice; sausage patties once), grits, hard-boiled eggs, cold cereals, instant oatmeal with toppings, milk, and a waffle maker. I was surprised that I never saw biscuits and gravy. I do not eat this; however, I frequently see it at hotel buffets. I would have liked corned beef hash one of the mornings.

The evening social included wine, two beer flavors, soup, and fresh salad with toppings each night. There was an additional hot food item three of the nights: chicken breast with tortillas and toppings, smoked pork, and gyros. Snacks were also provided the first evening.

There may have been additional food items, although these are the things I recall for sure. All of the food was very good, and employees were attentive about keeping everything well-stocked. Here is a link to the Homewood Suites Menu Selection.

Cookies in the lobby one evening
It must have been the one-year anniversary for this hotel during our stay. We happened to notice a sign one evening, and a plate of cookies in the lobby near the reception desk. The cookies were delicious!

In addition to the beverages offered during the evening social, this hotel had a small bar in the lobby with alcoholic beverages available for purchase. I was told the construction going on in the pool area was to add an outside bar.


The concierge in the lobby provided excellent information.

Parking, misc., and overall

The only parking available at this hotel is valet parking for $26 a night. The parking lot was across the street, and it appeared as though guests could park their own car, if desired, because we observed many people parking their car across the street (guests and employees). Rather than pay $104 + tips for parking, we opted to park in one of the city lots for $28 total. You can purchase a two-day Visitor Parking Pass at Mobility & Parking Services for $14. You can also purchase a 24-hour pass for $8. There are a couple of free 30-minute parking spaces in front of the office on East Bryan Street where you can park to go in and purchase a parking pass. The closest parking garage to the Homewood Suites is the Bryan Street garage, which is less than ½ mile away. We drove up to the hotel to unload our luggage, and then we drove our car to the garage. There are parking spaces on the street, which are closer to the hotel; however, we preferred to park in a garage.

This hotel is in a good location to visit nearly everything in Savannah by foot, as are pretty much all of the hotels near the river and downtown. Temperatures ranged from the 60s to nearly 80°F during our stay. When we had made plans to visit for four nights, we thought we would be spending some of our time relaxing on the roof by the pool. After we learned this area was going to be closed, we should have changed our stay to only three nights. Three nights would have been sufficient time to visit everything we visited. I am working on a separate blog post with information about the areas we visited: Historic Squares, dining and shopping, Savannah Bells Ferry, City Market, Fort Pulaski, and Tybee Island. I will update this post with that link when it is ready.

This is a newer hotel with one of the best evening socials and breakfast offerings I have attended in a very long time. The food and beverages offered at this hotel make this property an excellent choice. Housekeeping was nearly excellent, and employees were friendly, although I was mildly disappointed with the lack of Diamond perks/recognition and with the guestroom we received. The beds were uncomfortable, there was only one chair at the kitchen table, and we definitely would have preferred the walk-in shower that is in king guestrooms. Granted, I did not initially reserve a balcony guestroom for the entire stay, as the rooftop area was not closed when I first made our reservations. I called about my concerns a couple of times after I learned the rooftop would be closed, and I felt like employees could have put forth more effort to meet our needs. When we arrived, the king balcony studio room (points reservation) had not been upgraded to the queen guestroom we had paid for, like I had been told it would. If someone had reserved the queen balcony room for that night before we checked in, we would have had to change rooms during our stay.

Let me know if you have any questions. Feel free to share this for others!