Fellow travelers, bear in mind that this is the last of the group of "motels" that festooned this part of Savannah in the 1960s, when the only real way in from the north and South Carolina was via Route 17, not I-95. The rest of that bevy of beauties has since been converted by the Savannah College of Art and Design - scad - into dormitory space for its budding BFA's.
No, this is not a Hampton Inn, or an Embassy Suites, or a trendy, friendly B&B, or a Low-Country Historic Plantation Inn - it's a motel, plain and simple. This is how folks going from A-to-B-to-C stayed overnight along the way, or where weary families traveling in the pastel 1960s stayed to explore places like Savannah. If you're looking for cushy comfort and healthy lobby snacks, this isn't the place. If you're looking to relive that three-weeks in the family station-wagon that you endured with your parents and siblings in 1967 as you toured everything from the Everglades to the Grand Canyon, this may be your ticket!
Now, down to business. The place is refurbed, yet still more than a little tired and frayed around the edges. The attitude's all there, it's just that her skirt's a little tattered, her makeup's a bit mooshed, and her hairdo's a little out of place...but, then, so is this entire place. It's located directly across the street from Savannah's bus station, so you will hear noise all day and all night as bus traffic heads in and out, and bear in mind that 17 exits southbound traffic, and takes in northbound traffic, right on this route, so you'll hear that, too. Oh, and those scad dormitories - well, they're essentially surrounding you, as is the scad campus bus service, which is actually more busy than the metro bus service, so be prepared for plenty of students and plenty of cars and buses. However, it is within easy walking distance of everything in the historic section of Savannah, and works as a great base for that purpose.
Yes, this is a MOTEL - a motor hotel - and the entries all face the parking lot, which is tiny and crowded - and bear in mind that parking a car there carries an extra $5 charge per day. There are 42 rooms and 42 parking spaces, including the few that are right in the middle of the lot, so be mindful of where you choose to park. The rooms all have metal doors, and not all of them fit tightly - ours had a pretty substantial gap at the threshold - Room 201 if you'd like to know. Rooms are 1960s dimensions. TVs are likewise old school. Bathrooms are tiny, sinks are in the hallways outside the bathrooms, no closets, no microwaves. Beds were, strangely, decently comfy. HVAC is an odd unit that hangs on the wall over the sink, but it does come with a remote, and, actually, seemed a lot better than the old HVAC units that still sit idle under the front windows. There are some rooms that have a bit more room and vavoom - get those if you need those.
The place is downright CHEAP, folks, and it runs plenty of specials throughout the year. If you're looking for an affordable place to stay in Savannah, or something decidedly kitschey and odd, you've found your place. The staff, including the front desk folks, were uniformly great - something we did not quite anticipate. Nice all around, kind of like Savannah itself. Complimentary breakfast is coffee, tea, apple and orange juice, and Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and that's it - no fru-fru here, no Hampton Inn spread, just doughnuts. Good doughnuts. Tasty doughnuts. But, just doughnuts. Get the picture?
Frankly, we enjoyed this visit to Savannah, and staying at The Thunderbird Inn was a good part of that, and we'd recommend it to anyone else bearing in mind the caveat emptors noted above. If you want a Euro-luxe experience, this is NOT the place. If you want a down-home comfy Hampton Inn full breakfast, this is NOT the place. However, if you want a taste of what Savannah once was, where a peninsula of motels used to great the city's travelers, this is the ONLY place for you.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Meet-up at our delightfully quirky motel where refined Savannah's so-historic location and so-hip eccentricities hook up. Discounted Savannah lodging was never so much fun! Hotel rates include Moon Pies and Krispy Kreme donuts! ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Thunderbird Hotel Savannah
- Thunderbird Hotel Savannah