St Augustine is a city steeped in history and luxury, art and architecture, and the birthplace of the first luxury hotel in Florida. The sprawling Ponce De Leon housed up to 540 guests with opulence and grandeur. We were looking for something a little more intimate.
The Collector Inn is a boutique collection of 30 rooms in nine historic houses, some predating the Ponce by almost a century. It’s a quiet retreat with gardens and firepits at the edge of America’s oldest city. A place for lovers and learners to escape and explore. Join us as we review one of the most unique and historic properties in St Augustine.
Where is The Collector Inn Located?
The Collector Inn is located at 149 Cordova St, St. Augustine, FL. Their website says -“The Collector sits on the edge of St. Augustine’s Old Town, within easy walking distance of the city’s most celebrated attractions.” That was absolutely our experience as we were able to reach all of the romantic things to do in St Augustine without fighting traffic.
When we visited, we parked our car with the valet and didn’t pick it up again until we left. They are so close to everything that they’re even within the trolley loop. For us, the convenience of walking or biking around St Augustine and being immersed in all the history made us really appreciate the location of the Collector Inn. It’s definitely the sort of town where you’d rather walk through the ancient streets than try to fight traffic and find a parking spot.
What Are the Rooms Like at The Collector Inn?
It is the rooms that separate the Collector Inn from traditional properties. The property began the conversion from its previous life as the Dow Museum of Historic Houses of St. Augustine to a hotel in 2016. As a result, the bathrooms and bedding are modern, fresh, and fabulous. The guest room sizes range from a cozy hotel room to a sprawling 441 square feet suite. With all these options available, you’ll want to book early to get the best selection.
We found they took great care to preserve the architectural touches you’d hope to find in a historic building, including stained glass windows and hardwood floors in select rooms. As a result, from the first moment you enter the common area to the final time you step out onto your private balcony or porch, you’ll feel like a resident of the ancient city.
The Gardens (and Grounds) of the Collector Inn
The gardens around the Collector Inn hold a special place in Florida history. The first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in Florida occurred here in 1863, freeing the Florida slaves. The original collector, Kenneth Worcester Dow, created unique spaces with statues, doors, and architectural pieces he collected on his European travels. There’s something to be discovered around every corner.
The gardeners are fighting to preserve the ancient magnolias and oaks impacted by the recent restoration projects. However, it’s better than all the historic houses and landscaping getting bulldozed into a parking lot, which would have happened without heroic intervention. Instead, you’ll find a garden oasis in the heart of the city with secluded nooks to enjoy a morning meal, an afternoon splash in the pool, or an evening cocktail.
A Brief History of The Collector Inn
The Collector Inn is a collection of nine historic buildings spread across an entire city block. The oldest house, The Murat, dates back to 1790 and once housed Prince Achille Murat, a nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte and Ralph Waldo Emmerson. The youngest structure, The Well, built as a garage in 1915, was renovated in 1989 as an event space.
Kenneth Worcester Dow was a wealthy heir, eclectic collector, and, quite likely, an obsessive hoarder. He purchased these properties from the 1930s to the 1950s for his residence and storage for all of his finds. Kenneth had exquisite taste and an unquenchable thirst for collecting. In 1989, he donated his entire collection consisting of over 500 paintings, 250 pieces of furniture, 1,000 decorative art objects, and over 1,000 drawings to the Museum of Arts and Sciences.
The Collector Inn property was included in this donation. Kenneth Dow was a passionate collector. However, his preservation skills left much to be desired. The buildings were in extreme disrepair, and there was a push for their demolition. A coalition of concerned citizens armed with Kenneth’s documentation of each building’s unique history saved the buildings, paid for their preservation, and created the Collectors Inn to ensure their future.
That was the short version. If you want to hear the whole story, it’s offered free to guests three times a week as a two-hour guided tour.
What Makes the Collector Inn Special?
St Augustine is famous for romantic getaways and historical attractions with a side of nature. The Collectors Inn is all of these things in a very comfortable and inviting package.
They offer everything you need to explore St Augustine, including a delicious water station, in-room Italian coffee maker, and one of the best hotel breakfasts we’ve had in a long time. They also offer unexpected extras like complimentary bike rental and an exceptionally helpful and knowledgeable front desk. What’s more, they’re adults only, so you won’t have to worry about kids under 16 splashing around in the pool. We consider a stay at The Collectors Inn one of the most romantic Florida vacation properties for all these reasons.
Disclosure: A big thank you to Island Routes for hosting us and setting up a fantastic itinerary! For more Sandals Royal Curacao travel inspiration, check out their Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts.
As always, the views and opinions expressed are entirely our own, and we only recommend brands and destinations that we 100% stand behind.
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Hi! We are Jenn and Ed Coleman aka Coleman Concierge. In a nutshell, we are a Huntsville-based Gen X couple sharing our stories of amazing adventures through activity-driven transformational and experiential travel.