Savannah Done Right: The Mansion on Forsythe

As any traveler knows, the world “hotel” can mean many things. For instance, a Hampton Inn with a nice little lagoon-esque pool and a room with two double beds (one for you and your brother and one for your parents) falls under the category of “hotel.” Or a Super 8 situated underneath an overpass where you and twelve of your friends pack in to a single and take turns using the bathroom which has a two-by-two hole next to the toilet – also a hotel.

But then there are hotels; the stunning, precisely-planned shrines to service and hospitality that stun you around every corner and, by the end of your stay make you not only vow to never stay at a Super 8 again (thriftiness be damned), but make you reconsider how urgent it is that you return to your every day life.

Welcome to the Mansion on Forsythe.

Located in Savannah, Georgia’s beautiful Historical District, the Mansion is the perfect encapsulation of its genteel surroundings. The 126 room, 43 million dollar inn is the brainchild of hotelier Richard Kessler, who, after growing up down the street from where the Mansion currently stands, went on to become President and Chairman of Days Inn, and later formed his own boutique hotel focused company. Kessler’s intimate understanding of Savannah’s Southern charm-meets-cosmopolitan attitude can be seen again and again in the various trappings that the Mansion offers.

And trappings there are. First and foremost, what slaps you in the face upon entering the hotel is that the place is a work of art. From the onyx marble lobby featuring 800-year-old pillars to the ethereal tented pool area to the gold-leafed, fairy tale-worthy ballroom to the avant-garde funeral parlor-themed (a nod to the building’s previous life) elevators, every detail of the Mansion’s appearance has been thought out and carefully executed to make guests feel like they’re staying in a painting.

And speaking of paintings, the Mansion, like all of Kessler’s hotels, doubles as something of an art gallery. With thousands of paintings and sculptures (most available for purchase) covering the walls and festooning alcoves, a walk from your room to the lobby is like a mini-tour of the Met; however, if you’re still not satisfied, a gallery featuring works from local, national, and international artists is located on the ground floor of the hotel and is open to street-traffic as well as guests.

Another unique feature of the hotel open to the public is the Mansion’s 700 Kitchen Cooking School. Located just off of the hotel’s airy and relaxed bar (where I may have enjoyed a beverage or two hundred during my stay), the school offers classes in various cooking styles multiple times a week and can also be booked for private group classes. Though I didn’t take part in any of the classes myself while I was there, I did get a look at the classroom, which was stunning and well equipped. The school is overseen by the hotel’s culinary director Chef Darin Sehnert, who also runs 700 Drayton, the hotel’s restaurant. (Which I declined to hit up after hearing from a local that, for the price, the city offers better. But once again, it is gorgeous.)

However, the real crown jewel of the Mansion is the one thing about hotels that really matters – the rooms. Decorated in white and sage green with a tastefully Edwardian-meets-modern vibe, the room features a comfy lounge chair; a stately desk where one can tap in to the hotel’s wireless or use a cable plug-in, a large armoire housing a flat screen TV, mini bar, and bathrobes; and a colossal, cloud-soft bed that may or may not hinder you from doing anything at all on your vacation due to its comfiness. The white marble bathroom has a glassed-in toilet and shower stall on one side, and on the other, a Jacuzzi bathtub for two, above which are shutter doors that open, giving you the option of watching Family Guy while you soak, or, if you want to act like a five-year-old, literally springing directly from the tub to the bed. And as a special tip, I recommend requesting a poolside room, as the pool’s waterfall wall was excellent ambient noise to fall asleep to.

In addition to all of this wonderfulness, the Mansion also houses a 24/7 business center, a 24/7 fitness center (not anything special, but does the job), a spa (which looks just like what I imagine heaven looks like – covered in white chiffon and awesome pieces of oversized sexy artwork), and a large staff that breaks their collective back to accommodate your every need. While it ain’t cheap, a stay at the Mansion is a one-of-a-kind Savannah experience that, even in these recession-hindered times, is utterly worth the splurge.

By: Lyndsey Aho

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