If you’re looking for the best place to stay in St. Augustine, let us offer the following suggestion: The Bayfront Marin House, located right on the water in downtown St. Augustine. Why, you ask? Consider the following advantages:
1. Location. In addition to being beautiful, St. Augustine is a very walkable town (note to self: pack walking shoes). The Bayfront Marin House is located right on the water, in the historic district. It’s only about 3 blocks to St. George Street (the main pedestrian mall) and maybe 5-6 blocks to the fort. If walking isn’t for you, they’re less than two blocks from two trolley stops, for both the Red and the Green Trolley. While it’s in a great location, it is on the quieter side of town–so it’s really the best of both worlds.
2. Privacy. A lot of people don’t like bed and breakfasts–they don’t want to interact with other guests, and they don’t want to feel like they’re sneaking past Grandma’s room to get to their own bed. The Bayfront Marin is what we call a gateway bed and breakfast–in that it’s a great gateway into trying more of this type of lodging. All of their room entrances are exterior–so you’re not tip-toeing down any dark hallways. And the owners have created lots of little spaces to “hide” and spend time alone–the hammock on the front lawn, the upstairs deck (surprisingly empty almost all the time, despite its amazing views of the Matanzas Bay), two porch swings, the gazebo…the list goes on. For the utmost in privacy, ask about one of the rooms with reserved outdoor porch space–the King George (on the first floor), the Marie Antoinette (second floor), and Lyndsey Michelle (on the second floor–and a two-room suite).
3. The longest happy hour in St. Augustine. This bed and breakfast has a two-hour happy hour every day from 5-7. And we’re not talking about wilted vegetables and cheap wine. Every day, they offer multiple snacks (like spicy meatballs, homemade guacamole, chicken salad in phyllo cups, vegetable dips, roll-ups, etc), as well as homemade sangria (both red and white versions–or try mixing them for a refreshing pink!), three kinds of wine, and a ton of different beers. They also have a homemade dessert every night–rum cake, pumpkin rolls, truffles, cheesecakes. The happy hour alone makes this bed and breakfast stand out above the rest!
4. Freebies galore. Most hotels these days have gotten the memo that wifi should be free, but they still find lots of extras to charge for (what’s a resort fee, anyway?) This bed and breakfast doesn’t do that–you’ll enjoy free parking (located a little over a block away, but there’s a loading zone out front so you don’t have to carry your luggage), free bicycles (all cruisers–great to explore the town), free beach items (towels-chairs-umbrellas), free wifi (of course), happy hour, breakfast, iced water/lemonade/hot tea/coffee all day, and I’m sure I’m missing some things as well. It’s a great value for your money.
5. Great breakfasts. I know I listed the complimentary breakfast above, but I think I have to go into more detail to give this great amenity justice. Some bed and breakfasts do one seating a day–you’re either in your seat at 9:00 or you go hungry. The Bayfront Marin House gives you a breakfast card when you check in–you just fill it out the night before, and tell them what you’d like to eat, when you want it (although the food is cooked to order, so if you’re up early or sleep in late it really doesn’t matter–the time just helps them plan), and where you want your food delivered (no group tables here–they’re all private tables, in the dining room or the gazebo or on the patio). The cook makes one hot entree each day (like an amazing French toast, or omelette, or banana pancakes), and you can order as many servings of that as you’d like. If you don’t like the entree, you can also request scrambled eggs. In addition, there are a ton of extras to choose from–coffee, tea or hot chocolate of course; but also fresh fruit, cereal, to-die-for-muffins, bagels, yogurt, toast, milk, grove-fresh orange juice–and I’m sure I’m missing something! I’ve never seen breakfast done like this, and it’s a great way to customize everything to the individual. Breakfast is served any time from 8 – 10am…although if you have an early flight and ask the cook nicely the day before, she’ll come in early and make you something so you’re not hungry on the plane. Breakfast in bed is also available for an additional charge.
6. Awesome rooms. This popular bed and breakfast now has 18 rooms (15 in the historic district, and 3 at a sister property on Vilano Beach). Between them, there is something for everyone. Some of the rooms have huge showers with body jets, some have two-person Jacuzzis, some have electric fireplaces. All the rooms have a tailored but elegant style…if you have any worries about a prissy Victorian motif with lots of pink and ribbons, you can rest easy. There is a fully accessible room on the first floor, and a few rooms sleep extra people (Lyndsey Michelle has two bedrooms, Governor White and Royal Palm both have sleeper sofas/daybeds in addition to king sized beds, the Dunes has an extra room, and many rooms have space for a blow-up bag). There are rooms with views of the water, rooms with views of historic Marine Street (and the romantic horse-and-carriages that ride on it), and very private rooms (the Coquina Suite is almost totally hidden!) Ask about the pros/cons of each room, and the staff will be happy to help you figure out which one is best for you.
7. Staff Extraordinaire. You can’t talk about this bed and breakfast without mentioning the amazing staff. There are 14 people on staff, plus the two owners (if you do the math, that’s almost 1 person per room!) It’s a lot of people, but it gives you a phenomenal amount of service. Want to know what restaurant has the best fish tacos? They’ll be happy to give you some options. Need a cab to pick you up after dinner? They’ll arrange it, and give you a card with the number in case there are any problems. Everyone–and I mean the cleaners, the servers, the cook, the innkeepers, the owners–seem to love what they do, and it creates a really happy and relaxed attitude. But what we really love about the staff is that they don’t chase you down to talk to you…if you want some alone time with your partner, you can get it without feeling like you’re being rude. This is a staff that realizes that your vacation is yours…and their job is just to make sure that it is whatever you want it to be.
Still worried about staying at a bed and breakfast? Check out this blog for tips on making your first bed and breakfast stay perfect.