Have you heard of St Augustine, Florida before? You should have. It is the oldest European-founded city in the continental USA. Home to the Fountain of Youth, the Ponce de Leon Hotel (now Flagler College) and the Castillo de San Marcos. It is a town steeped in history yet very much part of the 21st century, just check out the students with their smartphones & laptops in the coffee shops. There is a unique blend of history and being of the time that makes it a wonderful place to visit and call home for a few days. While there are many hotels available I feel the best way to immerse yourself in the town is to check into a St Augustine Bed & Breakfast. The St Francis Inn happens to be my home away from home and it also has the honour of being the second oldest building in town.
The St Francis Inn was built in 1791 and represents the Second Empire Style visible throughout much of Old Town. It has been updated so don’t worry, you don’t have to share bathrooms or light candles.
A hurricane swept through the Old Town just a few months before I arrived so the common areas are getting a much needed refreshing. No structural damage was done, just a lot of water. The owners are putting everything back to the way it was before the storm. In fact, the repairs should be done by this posting so you will not even notice anything different.
After my check-in, I headed straight up to my room in a neighbouring house. Not quite as old at the Garcia-Dummett House, it was built in the 1800’s. Up to the second floor, I go to my suite. Every “apartment” is unique so depending on which one you stay in it will look slightly different. Mine has a front sitting room and a separate bedroom and bathroom.
Very lovely for lazy mornings and winding down from an adventure filled day wouldn’t you say. The bed is supremely comfortable and the ceiling fans do the job to keep the air moving and not allow it to get too stuffy.
What makes choosing to stay in a St Augustine bed & breakfast vs a hotel my preferred choice is the camaraderie of the other guests. The St Francis Inn provides two such opportunities during the day to mingle and get to know the other visitors. Every morning breakfast is included and it is fantastic. Look at the Blueberry French Toast with Sausages I had on the first morning.
The other opportunity to mingle is during the daily Social Hour in the garden courtyard. From 5-6 pm everyday guests gather to nibble on the light snacks prepared as well as partake in a refreshing beverage. Alcoholic drinks are a slight charge but everything else is complimentary. I took this photo before the guests filled up the garden.
I met many guests who return to St Augustine and the St Francis Inn every year. It’s a good sign when you have returning visitors. I can see why they return season after season. The staff is very friendly and the location is a 5-minute walk to the centre of town. You are in the heart of the action with the peace and quiet of being slightly removed from it.
For a building 226 years old the St Francis Inn is still in pretty good shape and I think with all the love and care it is shown, it easily has another 226 years if not more in it. Add your name to its history with a visit soon. you won’t regret it.
Oh, by the way, did I say the coffee is also brewing and fresh?