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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

Hotel Insider: Thunderbird Inn, Savannah, USA

This affordable 42-room retro motel in Georgia is well-located and hip

The exterior neon sign of the Thunderbird Inn, a newly refurbished retro motel in Savannah, Georgia.
The exterior neon sign of the Thunderbird Inn, a newly refurbished retro motel in Savannah, Georgia.

The welcome

When I call the hotel to check availability, I hear a voice saying: “You’ve reached the Thunderbird Inn, the coolest hotel in Savannah, you’re speaking to Ashley.” The hotel is a two-storey, retro-style 42-room motel dating from 1964, and when I arrive I park my own car in the parking lot and enter the small reception, which is playing music from the 1960s. I’m offered free coffee, popcorn and lemonade. A giant sign for the hotel and a selection of mottos in black capitals: “we define cool”; “all you need is love and a moon pie” add to the distinctive feel.

The neighbourhood

The hotel is located on the western edge of Savannah city centre, just outside the grand historic district, with its 22 squares dating back to the 1700s. The motel is next to the SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) Museum of Art and it’s about a 7 minute walk to the centre and waterfront.

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The scene

The hotel is popular with holidaying Americans and international visitors looking for a fun place to stay on a budget. The no-frills set-up is part of the appeal - there’s no room service or even telephones in the room, so guests are left to themselves and it tends to be a base for the night rather than somewhere to hang out for hours.

The room

My room is a “retrofied king suite” on the top floor. This means it’s larger than a normal room and features a large laminated floor area with a big, comfortable bed, a sofa, dressing area, separate bathroom and refrigerator. All rooms have a TV, air conditioning and a bath. It’s clean, airy, bright and quiet, and a place I look forward to returning to at the end of each day. The pillows are especially good.

The king suite at the Thunderbird Inn, Savannah, USA. Photo courtesy Thunderbird Inn / Adam Kuehl
The king suite at the Thunderbird Inn, Savannah, USA. Photo courtesy Thunderbird Inn / Adam Kuehl

The service

Reception staff are helpful and cheerful, offering restaurant recommendations and going out of their way to check times and locations of tours and other activities. On my first night when guests in the next door room are making a noise, the manager on duty unceremoniously orders them to leave. Despite the limited services on offer, the place feels well run.

The food

Breakfast consists only of orange juice, coffee and Krispy Creme doughnuts - there are no lunches or dinners served here, so it’s best to eat out. Token “moon pies” - soft cookies - are left by the bed in the afternoon, along with cans of cola.

Loved

The comfortable bed and relaxed feel.

Hated

There are some dead insects scattered outside my doorway which aren’t swept away the whole time I’m there. Also, there’s no safe, so I locked valuables in my suitcase.

The verdict

A great base and a fun place to stay. Many more expensive hotels would not be so calm and comfortable.

The bottom line

Rooms at the Thunderbird Inn cost from $198.50 (Dh360) per night including taxes and breakfast.

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