Hot List 2009

Avia, Savannah, Georgia 

14 Barnard Street

Savannah, Georgia
United States

Tel: 866 644 2842 (toll-free)

Tel: 912 233 2116

The Avia is the hip new outsider that's subtly stirring things up among the grandes dames and drag queens who have long dominated Savannah's hotel scene. But that's not to say it doesn't have a colorful backstory: The hotel occupies the site of the old Savannah Daily News building, and its design pays homage to the region's heritage without going over the top. The restaurant's chandeliers could have been plucked from a nearby Victorian mansion, while the wicker furniture on the second-floor pool deck seems inspired by the palmetto baskets of the local Gullah people. Otherwise, the lines are clean and lean, with just the occasional splash of bright color. All the mod-cons are present (plasma-screen TVs, iPod docks, walk-in rain showers), and nouvelle Georgia cuisine is the forte at the low-key Kitchen & Wine Bar restaurant, with dishes like Sea Island crabmeat tacos and Vidalia onion soup that's thick enough to cut with a knife. All of this washed down with locally brewed Sweetwater pale ale, which the hotel encourages guests to take out onto the streets in good Savannah fashion for a moonlight stroll around the square and the nearby riverfront.
When to go: Savannah has more festivals than you can shake a stick at, from the two-week music fest in March to the film festival in October. During the Yuletide season, the Historic District is drenched in lights and awash in bourbon-spiked eggnog.
Which room to book: Even-numbered rooms on the south side (Nos. 2-26) overlook the recently refurbished Ellis Square and offer the best views of Savannah's vaunted spires and domes.
Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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