Lately I’ve been happy to sleep in a hotel of any kind after such a long period of staying home to be safe, but when I checked into The Collector Saint Augustine in Florida, I knew I had landed someplace special. This was not going to be some routine hotel stay, rather a real experience to remember.
It’s officially called The Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens and it’s an apt description for this gorgeous collection of historic buildings set in carefully designed, well-tended gardens all around. It’s worth slowly strolling the grounds to take it all in because there are little details and unique touches in every area of the property that are worth observing.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a hotel website that so well defines the answer to the question, “Who should stay here?” They say this place is right for you if…
- You love art, architecture and history.
- You walk everywhere.
- You are a romantic.
- You believe every day should end around a fire pit.
- You collect experiences (not things).
In other words, avid travelers who savor the experience, not tourists in a hurry who don’t like surprises.
This Saint Augustine luxury hotel has a real sense of place in a city that’s not just the oldest in Florida, but in what is now the United States–founded in 1565. The main claim to fame is the Castillo de San Marcos fort, which is a U.S. National Park. The Spaniards started construction on this fort in 1672 and then about 100 years later the city became a British colony, returned to Spain for a while after American independence, then officially became part of the new United States in the early 1800s.
Staying here offers a taste of the past: 30 rooms are spread over 9 buildings and some of the brick paths in between have been there for hundreds of years, as have some of the brick walls enclosing the one-acre property. It is set up like some of the best places to stay in Key West and Savannah, in houses that were once independent but are now part of a historic whole. The buildings went up between 1790 and 1910 and they’ve all got some kind of story.
This much space feels kind of decadent in such an urban location. The property is near the Lightner Museum and former Ponce de Leon Hotel (now a college), both built by Henry Flagler.
Gardens, A Pool, and Fire Pits at The Collector
The Collector Inn has a nice swimming pool surrounded by lounge chairs and it has some shady spots to hide from the strong Florida sun. It’s right across from the bar if you need some refreshment or pull something from the fridge in your room.
The grounds here are about as relaxing as they come, with beautifully tended gardens and fountains. There are a few spots to just sit and contemplate or read a book. If you want to get competitive though, there are cornhole games on the main lawn.
Guests have complimentary use of cruiser bikes parked near check-in and we had fully planned to make use of them. One day we were stuffed after a food tour though and the next day it rained, so we were out of luck. There’s a lot to ride to in the area though if you want to go for a spin. There’s also valet parking on site if you come by car.
Dining and Drinking
How about a glass of wine or a local craft beer in the local pub? That’s what it feels like when you get a drink at The Well, a bar in its own stone building in the middle of the property, surrounded by cast iron tables and chairs on brick.
You can sit inside at tables or at the bar with A/C on in the summer, catching a game on TV. A more popular option though when it’s not too hot is to grab a seat by one of the fire pits and enjoy your drink there instead. It’s a good way to meet other guests and get tips on local finds.
In normal times the continental breakfast is available in a dining room, but due to Covid adjustments, they were delivering everyone’s by room service during our stay.
Otherwise, you can go exploring the Saint Augustine food options or order in and eat outside on the property or in your room. There’s a local brewpub called Dog Rose a block away and a nice restaurant at Old City House Inn a block in another direction.
Rooms at The Collector Luxury Inn
Since the 30 rooms at The Collector are spread out over multiple buildings, they’re naturally all a bit different in layout. Some are laid out like standard bedrooms, while other are suites with separate living rooms. The smallest is a queen guestroom of 216 square feet, but then the others go up to king rooms, ones with a balcony, then several suite configurations including a two-bedroom one.
We stayed in a suite in the Murat House, which is a timeless stone building facing brick paths, vines over stone walls, and statues. This one had a full living room with a dining table, a kitchenette, and a separate bedroom with an adjoining bath. Outside was a shared furnished terrace that nobody else was ever using during our stay. It felt like we were staying in our own little cottage with beamed ceilings in a village, not a place steps from some of the major tourist attractions of Saint Augustine.
No matter which room you choose, you’ll have plenty of amenities included. All of them have some kind of kitchenette set-up with a coffee machine, microwave, ice bucket, and mini-fridge. TVs get plenty of channels and you can curl up in a bathrobe to watch.
Our included internet access worked well and we found ample outlets to recharge the phones when needed. We enjoyed the nice toiletries and rain shower in the bath and slept very well in our comfy bed.
This memorable adults-only hotel has already won a few awards and gotten great press in its short time being open and it’s sure to start showing up on those magazine “best hotels in the USA” lists in the coming years. Take a tour of that room and the grounds in this video:
Rates at The Collector Luxury Inn and Gardens generally run $250 to $500 depending on size and season and include continental breakfast. Book direct with the property and see package deals there. They have a best rate guarantee, but you can also check prices online at Expedia.
Review and photos by Hotel Scoop editor Tim Leffel, who was hosted at the property while a guest of Florida’s Historic Coast visitors bureau in Saint Augustine.