The St. Francis Inn is nestled on an oak tree-lined brick-paved street in downtown St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest city. A member of the Select Registry brand, the St. Francis Inn has been in operation for decades. It offers a stellar place to stay while visiting St. Augustine, complete with breakfast, snacks, evening desserts, and a plethora of amenities.
On my visit to the inn with my husband, Eddie, we fell in love with the quaint seating areas, special touches, and southern hospitality that was apparent at every turn.
History of the Inn
One of the St. Francis Inn’s claims to fame is that the inn dates back to 1791. Besides being St. Augustine’s oldest inn, it has a nostalgic feel that doesn’t get lost, including modern-day comforts we all know and love. Each room is uniquely decorated and sits inside a walled property with many nooks and crannies in a secret hideaway. Many rooms have fireplaces.
A fun fact about the inn is that, like many properties in America’s historic city, it has a ghost. She is known as Lily and has been known to cause strange things to happen in a third-floor room at the inn. They refer to it as Lily’s Room, so you can book that one in particular if you are coming to St. Augustine to find ghosts.
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The St. Francis Inn is also a member of the distinguished luxury hotel and inns group, Select Registry. You can find it within a block of St. Augustine’s Oldest House, a popular tourist attraction, on Old St. Francis Street.
Upon check-in, be sure to admire the inn’s sweet little gift shop, full of treasures and logo souvenirs, a selection of attractions brochures, cookbooks, bath products, awards, interesting artwork, and literature about the inn.
Rooms and Accommodations
The choices of accommodations at the St. Francis Inn run the gamut from cottages, rooms, and suites at the Main Inn, The Cottage, Garden Hideaway, and Wilson House. There are 19 in total, many with balconies or porches. Two couples or a family can share the cottages, as they have separate bedrooms. The property also offers an 1894 house only a few blocks away, with two suites, one on each floor, with two bedrooms, two baths, a living area, and a fully furnished kitchen.
Exquisite furnishings at the inn are either antiques or replicas made to make you feel right at home. For a nightly fee, pets are welcome and even get a special treat upon arrival.
My husband and I stayed in the romantic Garden Hideaway, nestled upstairs in the back of the property. The room you enter in was turned into a space housing a two-person jacuzzi tub. It had an electric fireplace and TV, too, which allowed me to watch my favorite show while soaking in a heavenly bath.
A king-sized bed, with the best sheets I’ve ever slept on, provided us a great night’s sleep and afternoon nap. You can buy the sheets in the gift shop. There was also a second flat-screen TV, mini-fridge, and microwave. A bedside table held a lovely crystal decanter and glasses for cream sherry, which is available in the main house. A small bathroom with a walk-in shower was off of the bedroom.
The St. Francis Inn has a long list of amenities, including:
- Gourmet breakfast
- S’mores ingredients from 8 to 9:30 PM for the gas fire pit
- All-day beverage service
- Temperature-controlled swimming pool
- Use of bicycles
- Specialty coffee bar
- Evening social snacks
- Beach set-up (see more details about this awesome offering)
- A variety of exercise equipment and workout DVDs
- Evening wine or local beer during social time
- Nighttime snacks
- Free private parking
- Fresh flowers
- High-speed wireless internet
- Seasonal surprises
- Plush guest robes
- Nighttime desserts
- Car charging stations
- Access to a state-of-the-art health and fitness center
- Admission to the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum
- 50% off admission to the Oldest House Museum
Aside from amenities, the St. Francis Inn has a sitting room inside the main house with a big selection of games, books, newspapers, and puzzles. Complimentary house blend coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and water are available all day, and at times, icy canned sodas for the taking. There were even fresh baked cookies and fruit on hand every time we popped in.
Enhance your coffee with one of the many flavored syrups that are provided.
Like a botanical garden that meets Florida native flower shop, the St. Francis Inn is nothing shy of fantastic, a nature lover’s paradise. Timeless orchids hang in the lush trees, sweeping live oaks, and colorful bougainvillea provides an oasis in the heart of downtown St. Augustine. You’ll even see mighty banana trees, a pet memorial garden, exotic potted plants, and a fire pit amid the enchanting garden courtyard.
Wrought iron tables provide ample seating to sit and relax and enjoy the koi pond and fountain beneath beautiful bamboo and tropical plants. You will know you are in the south in this remarkable space. At dusk, fun white lanterns hang from the trees and light-wrapped trees twinkle as they light up the night.
The pool’s window box planters, full of succulents, were my favorite—a project I’ve assigned my husband to recreate at our home.
Small seating areas offer a warm reprieve and great place to read a book, have an intimate conversation, or just unwind. A front porch swing and red rocking chairs were other special places to enjoy. Be on the lookout for Rebel, the property’s resident black cat.
The Food and Drinks
And now we come to my favorite part about the St. Francis Inn. As with most inns, breakfast is included. I’d heard stories about the exceptional breakfast buffet at the inn, but due to COVID, they have had to modify the breakfast program. Guests are given menus to fill out for their daily breakfast choices and where they would like the meal set up. Meals can be served by the pool, in the courtyard, screened porch, dining room, or in guest rooms.
For breakfast, one morning we had Breakfast Casserole with blueberry muffins and toast, and on the next, sausages and stuffed French Toast with homemade whipped cream. Eddie and I are not typical coffee drinkers, but a carafe of coffee, juice, yogurt, fruit salad and several goodies were waiting at other guest tables. The menu also offers freshly baked bread, homemade granola, assorted cereals, and Champagne Mimosas and Bloody Marys on weekends.
What was originally a social hour at the inn has now become boxed snacks for safe handling. They can be picked up at the front desk between 5 and 8 PM. Our boxes contain a variety of vegetables, cheese chunks, crackers, spinach dip, hummus, pita bread, baked bread, and olives. I looked forward to them each night. I reiterate, wine and local beer are complimentary during social hour.
Late-night homemade desserts are also an amenity. Ours featured red velvet cupcakes one evening, and white chocolate raspberry bars the next. Yummy, they were so tasty!
The St. Francis Inn gets an A+ in my book for their evident and thoughtful social distancing practices. From the marked spaces to wait on at check-in to the separate container for clean and sanitized or dirty pens (the first I’d seen of that one), I felt comfortable the whole time. Workers, including gardeners and those serving food, wore masks at all times, and I saw them wiping down seats, handles, doors, and other common areas. I even heard from friends who live in St. Augustine that the inn was among the first in town to instill appropriate COVID19 measures for guests, setting the standard as they often do.
Convenience to Downtown
The St. Francis Inn is on one of St. Augustine’s most well-known streets. You can walk to most anything you want to see or do in town. One direction is the pedestrian area and famous downtown sights, while in another is the awesome boardwalk on the waterfront offering amazing photo-ops. Eddie and I didn’t get in the car for anything other than to drive to see the beach, which is six miles away.
You’ll find the comforts of home in a picturesque, private retreat that will capture your heart at the iconic St. Francis Inn, St. Augustine, Florida. If you are visiting St. Augustine, I cannot think of anywhere more fitting to stay than a place with so much charm, dozens of amenities, and stellar accommodations, with parking included. It just cannot be beat.
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