Casa de Solana
St. Augustine, Florida
There is nothing more romantic than staying in a B&B that can boast of dating back to the city’s second Spanish Colonial period and being one the prides of St. Augustine, Florida.
Located in the heart of the historic district of a city known as the first permanent settlement in the USA, the charming and elegant Casa de Solana is probably one of the most fascinating inns we have come across in our world travels.
Casa de Solana
It is one of those inns you walk past and say, this must be historic; I would like to stop in and take a look around. In fact, while we were sitting in the inn’s courtyard, there were several passerby who did peek in. One exclaimed: “this is a wonderful historic home – fingerprints of Spanish settlers are all over with the architecture, verandas and narrow streets.”
An added feature is that the inn is only minutes away from the The Oldest House (The Gonzalez-Alvarez) in the USA – inn’s guests receive a 50% discount on admission – as well as various other historical attractions. History is all around you, and its innkeeper, Joe Finnigan, indicated to us that its roots could be traced back to its original owner, Don Manuel Lorenzo Solana, who owned the land and the house during the mid 1700s.
Adding another romantic dimension to the inn’s eclectic historical personality is that many of St. Augustine’s natives can trace their lineage back to Don Manuel and other members of his family.
Don Manuel was one of only eight men of the Spanish Army who were permitted to continue residing in St. Augustine when Spain traded Florida to Great Britain for Havana in 1763. It would be an understatement to say that the English were not very fond of the Spanish, and for the most part, forced them out of Florida.
Don Manuel met an English woman by the name of Mary Mitchell, whom he married, and the couple had a daughter and one or two sons. Eventually, the couple separated and Don Manuel remarried Mary Mestre (Masters) who was born on the small Spanish island of Minorca. From this marriage, eleven children were born.
Casa de Solana Fauna
Various sections of the building that can be traced back to its original construction such as the pegged beams, colonial widow panes, double-cross doors and handmade bricks. However, once inside the inn’s ten unique rooms, guests enjoy modern conveniences as televisions, modem hook-ups, and writing desks, while at the same time experiencing the atmosphere of the original house. For creating that special romantic ambience, many of the rooms even have fireplaces and whirlpool tubs.
We were fortunate to stay in the Segui Room, located on the second floor with its private balcony overlooking the cobble-stone Charlotte Street and the St. Augustine waterfront. Sitting on the balcony reminded me of some the inns we visited in Spain, with their antique furniture and stained glass windows. At times, I felt as if one of the Solana family was about to knock on our door and greet us.
Breakfast at the Inn
Breakfast at the inn is bountiful and goes way beyond croissants, toast and coffee. Served buffet style, there is ample enough food to fill you up for a day of visiting this fascinating city. Always included are two hot homemade entrees, freshly baked pastries, fruit, and a special blend of coffees. Trust me, with so much to see, you will need ample fuel to check out all of the interesting sites!
What Lily and I found delightful was eating breakfast in the inn’s beautiful courtyard while listening to the “clip-clops” of horse drawn carriages as they meander along the narrow brick-paved alleys. We even had one of these horse drawn carriages pick us up during the evening hours and drop us off at one of the marvelous restaurants.
Romantic Getaway & Wedding Destination
Casa de Solana is the perfect choice for a memorable romantic getaway. The inn offers various romantic packages which provide champagne, engraved champagne glasses, and St. Augustine-made Whetstone chocolates in your room upon arrival. They can also arrange for a horse-drawn carriage ride, two tickets to a bay cruise, and even a romantic breakfast, with mimosas delivered to your room.
For the small intimate wedding celebration, the inn’s private walled courtyard provides a beautiful setting for a most unique ceremony. In addition, the recently constructed de Palma House courtyard is excellent and flexible to host a small reception. In the event your party needs more space, the inn uses the facilities of the neighboring St. Augustine Art Association or the Llambias House & Garden.
Before heading out to the historical St. Augustine sites, take an Old Town Trolley Tour that will acquaint you with St. Augustine and the “must see” venues.
The Columbia Restaurant
98 St. George Street, St. Augustine, FL
The story of this restaurant’s chain is very much tied up with the cigar industry that was established in Ybor City near Tampa at the turn of the last century. From its humble beginnings in 1904 in Ybor, this restaurant now comprises 6 restaurants scattered throughout Florida, each unique, however all retaining those special ingredients that make great restaurants popular.
Raintree Restaurant & Steakhouse
102 San Marco Avenue, St. Augustine, FL
For culinary indulgence, this restaurant is what you could classify as “la créme de la créme” when it comes to its service, menu and wine list. Dinner is served from 5 P.M. and during the busy season and on weekends reservations are highly recommended.
Located in an old house, the restaurant has long been recognized for its exceptional food, and has been the recipient of many awards. Try its seafood specialties such as, mahi mahi en croute or its salmon mediterranean style, both of which Lily and I savored and could not stop raving about. Leave some room for their deserts, particularly the goodies on their trays. Forget about dieting!