If you haven’t visited Savannah, Georgia at all or for a long time, you’re in for a surprise. A visit to the downtown historic district is a quick way to whisk your mind and body on a tour of several hundred years of Colonial southern architectural history.
Buildings along Bay Street include the majestic old Customs House (1848), the East Bay Inn (1853), the Staybridge Suites (1851), Savannah City Hall (1877), Savannah Cotton Exchange (1886), and the New Franklin Ward & Wharf Lots. All played a significant role in the commerce of the South since the founding of the city as a British Colony by King George II in 1732.
The Kimpton Brice Hotel is one of the newer residents of the historic district. One block away from River Street and the infamous Pirate House restaurant, it’s the latest addition to the city by the Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG).
As IHG Rewards Club credit cardholders, Chase rewards us with a free night stay per year. This year we thought we’d check out the Brice — our first exposure to the Kimpton line. It’s been a year of firsts for us already with IHG. Checkout our January review of the EVEN Hotel at West 35th Street in New York City.
An easterly drive along East Bay Street reveals the Brice on your right at 601 East Bay between Houston and East Broad streets just on the edge of the historic district. But it’s not obvious. You’ll have to pay attention and look for it.
The Brice looks like an old warehouse with a gray base paint and black trim. And that’s on purpose. It’s designed to fit in with the warehouse-wharf look and feel at the port of old Savannah.
An attendant at the entrance is available to help you with your bags or park your car across the street at the valet rate of $29 a night. Or, you can opt for metered street parking payable by credit card at a street corner digital kiosk nearby.
A Walk Through the Brice
The hotel entrance is an unspectacular, straightforward warehouse type look with a sign above the door. There is no massive, marble lobby beaconing signals of luxury.
As you walk through the entrance, a cavernous open bay dining area with a 25-chair long bar and more than two dozen single and double table setups are to your right. This is the Pacci Italian Kitchen & Bar — the Brice restaurant. Yes, ladies, purse hooks are built into the bar at knee level. It’s an impressive tan wood on a white base with a black trim look throughout with a nostalgic black, white and tan floor pattern reminiscent of general stores in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
Massive bookcases adorn the restaurant and a sitting area around the lobby. No one we talked to could attest to any history of a visitor reading any of these tomes. They’re there for show and perhaps, an acknowledgment by implication, to Savannah’s literary past.
Check-in is a straightforward affair — IHG efficient as always. An elevator just off the front entrance makes it easy for you to wheel suitcases in and rise to room floor.
If you’re looking for the sweeping marble staircases, ultrahigh ceilings, and staff dressed in tuxedos like you’ll see at the Intercontinental Hotel in Buenos Aires, alter your expectations now. The Brice is, well, like the EVEN, a different look and feel hotel for the IHG line.
According to hotel staff, the building shares a long history with the city. It was Coca-Cola bottling plant before restoration as the Brice. During the Civil War, General Sherman used the building as a hospital. The building has also seen days as a livery stable and cotton warehouse.
A walk through the Brice is a different experience from any other IHG hotel. The 145-room building overlays a crisscross structure on one city block. There is the look and feel of a college dormitory or an old-style New York City apartment building throughout. Oversize replicas of Butterflies pattern corridor walls — an effort to elevate the mood of a stark, door-to-door atmosphere. Retro décor — old wagons, rope swings, bikes, are throughout.
An outdoor courtyard with lighting strung overhead, a fireplace, and group seating, occupies an interior square to the building.
Our room was the top-of-the-line pick we could opt for with our free night stay — a $360 a night offering a King bed platform. The exterior gray-black and interior tan-white-black schemes extend into the room. One of two side tables features a combination alarm clock stand with speakers and a lightning jack — ready for guests with iPhones. Nice.
A desk with chair, flat screen TV, DirecTV service, small refrigerator, and mini-bar are across from the bed. An armoire holds two nightrobes, an umbrella, a foam rollout exercise floor mat, push button safe, hangars, and an extra pillow. A hot pink interior draws your eye inside.
The bathroom, off the entrance and to the left, is a small, beige-tiled area and houses a bathtub with showerhead and toilet. Across the way is a small vanity area with a mirror.
A visit to the Brice is akin to finding goodies on a treasure hunt, both hidden and out in the open. The room is chock full of extras: an emergency flashlight in a side table drawer; Atelier Bloem toiletries; a mini-bar with snacks (up to $10 free for IHG Rewards Club members); and more.
A nightly social hour in the hotel reception area features wine on a two-wheel wagon, compliments of the house. If you check-in around 5 pm, you’ll notice this welcome wagon in the hotel lobby.
The Kimpton Brice Hotel
Address: 601 E Bay St, Savannah, GA 31401
Phone: (912) 238-1200
Rates: From $219
Other Articles About Savannah:
The American Prohibition Museum: The History of our Love-Hate Relationship with Alcohol, Savannah, GA (Exit 16 off of I-95 to Savannah)
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