St. Francis Inn B&B Review: Historic District Gem in St. Augustine, Florida

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The lovely sitting room within St. Francis Inn Bed and Breakfast.

Are you a history buff? Or simply someone who wants to visit an area with old-world charm? I fall into the first category. Therefore, a trip to St. Augustine, Florida, was highly anticipated since it’s the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States.

There are more than 60 sites and amazing things to do in St. Augustine, located on Florida’s Historic Coast, from Castillo de San Marcos to the Oldest House to the St. Augustine Lighthouse.

But it’s not all about history. The St. Augustine area boasts some of the best beaches in the US. And you’ll find a thriving food, music, and shopping scene while strolling the historical district’s ultra-charming walkable streets.

The corridor leading from the pool area to the main entrance of St. Francis Inn Bed and Breakfast.
The corridor leading from the pool area to the main entrance. Photo credit: Lisa Evans

St. Francis Inn Bed & Breakfast

When traveling, I enjoy staying in accommodations that reflect the area. The St. Francis Inn is the epitome of the charismatic historical Inn. Built in 1791, the Inn allows you to share its rich history and delve into its acquired secrets through the centuries.

Built as a home by Infantry Sergeant Gaspar Garcia on a bit of property granted to him by the King of Spain, it reflected the early residents’ concern for their safety. The building sits directly on the street, effectively shielding the front entrance.

When you arrive, you may need to drive around the block (as I did!) to find the entrance at the back of the building. Enter by walking through a winsome courtyard holding lovely treasures.

Through the years, the building sold multiple times, which entailed extensive renovations, such as an added floor, a new roof, and several new buildings added to the property. Today, guests can book accommodations at the Main Inn, Wilson House, or The Cottage.

The courtyard of St. Francis Inn Bed and Breakfast.
St. Francis Inn Bed and Breakfast courtyard Photo credit: Lisa Evans

Top-Notch Service

From the moment I walked through the door, the staff greeted me by name and offered the utmost personal service. Not the stiff, formal service of some other bed and breakfast accommodations I’ve stayed in, but the homey feeling of being a friend come to visit.

Smiles came naturally, not the superficial ones guests sometimes receive. The check-in process was seamless, and I was shown to my room by the innkeeper.

She explained the general policies, meals, and other available treats and took the time to give a sense of direction to places in the historic downtown area that may be of interest.

She left with a promise to be available for any questions or concerns that may arise.

Enjoy some peace around the pond in the Courtyard of St. Francis Inn Bed and Breakfast.
Peaceful pond in the courtyard of St. Francis Inn Bed and Breakfast. Photo credit: Lisa Evans

My Guest Room

I stayed in the Ballerina Room on the second level of the main inn.

Walking up the old, polished staircase to my room on the second floor, I could see beautiful, stunning antiques. The Innkeeper filled the lovely bookcase with books guests could borrow and read during their stay.

My room overlooked the outdoor pool (where I would spend several hours during my stay).

The room’s namesake was on the wall, over the fireplace mantle: A fabulous portrait of a young ballerina, a prize left from the early days of the Inn’s existence. On the fireplace mantle, beneath the portrait, I found a novel of the same name, its tattered binding a testament to the book’s timelessness.

Portrait of the Ballerina for which the guest room at St. Francis In Bed and Breakfast is named.
Portrait of the Ballerina for which the guest room is named. Photo credit: Lisa Evans

The homey touches to the room were evident throughout. On the fireplace mantle was a welcoming vase housing a fresh bud. There was a beautiful decanter, encouraging you to try some of their Cream Sherry.

The bed was a carved wooden queen with luxurious bedding. From personal experience, it was exceedingly comfortable.

One of the beautiful carved bed within the Ballerina guest room at the St. Francis Inn Bed and Breakfast.
Beautiful carved bed within the Ballerina guest room. Photo credit: Lisa Evans

There is a large flat-screen TV in the room.

The whirlpool tub in the bathroom was undoubtedly an added luxury. One of the most innovative things was the delightful manner they introduced you to “The Rag” to clean any spills that may occur.

Unique explanation from “The Rag” at St. Francis Inn Bed and Breakfast.
Unique explanation from “The Rag”. Photo credit: Lisa Evans.

While I appreciated the modern amenities of free wifi access and an antique table to act as a desk, I did not want to utilize either. I wanted to enjoy my beautiful surroundings and indulge in the timelessness of this comfortable home.

Dining at St. Francis Inn Bed & Breakfast

One of the allures of staying at a bed and breakfast is the food, cooked onsite and served in comfortable surroundings. St. Francis Inn does this remarkably well.

First, the common areas – the dining room, living room, and sitting room – are inviting spaces. While still beautifully appointed, the vibe is to sit down and enjoy some hospitality. I was not afraid to sit on the furniture!

Served each morning is a buffet breakfast, and the menu differs daily. There are always at least two hot dishes served along with fresh fruit, pastries, muffins, cereals, yogurt parfaits, juices, and the staples of coffee or tea. You can even get a specialty coffee like a latte, espresso, or cappuccino. On the weekends, indulge in a Champagne Mimosa or a Bloody Mary.

One of the comfortable dining room within St. Francis Inn Bed and Breakfast.
Comfortable dining room within St. Francis Inn Bed and Breakfast. Photo credit: Lisa Evans

Social Hour

One of the coolest things that I enjoyed was the inn’s nightly social hour. Each day at 5 p.m., all the guests can partake in complimentary beer, wine, and a light pre-dinner snack while engaging with others staying at the Inn.

Getting to know your fellow travelers – even for a brief time- was great fun and very interesting. I met a couple traveling for a birthday celebration and a family group in town as a weekend getaway, along with their dog. Yes, St. Francis Inn is not only family-friendly but pet-friendly (with approval).

As an evening treat, you can also enjoy a nightly tantalizing homemade dessert. Anything from a cheesecake covered in delicious berries to a red velvet cupcake smothered with cream cheese frosting.

You could enjoy this treat inside or take it outside, in quite possibly my favorite part of the St. Francis Inn – what I referred to as my oasis – the beautiful walled courtyard.

Breath taking views of a mixture of beautiful vegetation within the Courtyard  Garden of St. Francis Inn.
Mixture of beautiful vegetation within the courtyard garden of St. Francis Inn. Photo credit: Lisa Evans

The Courtyard Garden

One of the best things about my stay at St. Francis Inn was spending time in the courtyard garden. Once I left the car in the convenient off-street free parking lot, I crossed the quaint brick street to enter this lovely courtyard to check in to the Inn. (I later realized that St. George Street takes you directly into a thriving area of St. Augustine’s historic district).

While not on a large scale, the cozy, intimate outdoor space is divine. There are tables and chairs under the trees, some of them dripping with Spanish Moss. There is a fire pit where you can relax or make s’mores. There are wicker chairs and hanging wooden swings hanging on the porches, allowing you to while away the time.

Relax in the evening at the fire place within the courtyard Garden of St. Francis Inn.
Relaxing evening fire within the Courtyard Garden of St. Francis Inn. Photo credit: Lisa Evans

One time, I saw a family of four who had made a corner of the courtyard for their private celebration – I think it was a birthday. They enjoyed champagne and cupcakes, and I heard the guests’ happy laughter. It was indeed quite charming.

While the plants and greenery appear haphazardly planted, the owners did it purposely to give the guests a feeling of being in the comfort of home.

The pond within the courtyard of St. Francis Inn Bed and Breakfast is always a peaceful place to relax in.
Another view of the peaceful pond within the courtyard. Photo credit: Lisa Evans

Another time, I just sat there and enjoyed the peace and listened to the sounds of the gentle water in the pond. It was hard to fathom you were in the middle of a city teeming with activity.

The Cats of St. Francis Inn

As an animal lover, a serious bonus was that I could meet the cats of St. Francis Inn. They make their home here and grace everyone with their presence several times during the day. The Innkeeper and staff ensure they always have fresh food and water and places to stay in inclement weather.

I was lucky to see Boots, Houdini, and Beatris during my stay. Boots is very friendly, albeit a bit territorial, and loves getting to know the guests. Houdini is true to his name. I got to see him one day as he arrived for his meal, but he tended to be a bit skittish. Beatris was a sweet, shy baby who, while you could tell she wanted pets, wasn’t entirely trusting yet.

Cats at the St. Francis Inn Bed and Breakfast.
The cats of St. Francis Inn Bed and Breakfast. Photo credit: Lisa Evans

In speaking with some staff, I discovered many cats have found their way to St. Francis through the years. Irresponsible humans have dropped off several, but at least here at St. Francis, they find love, food, and shelter – some have even found their forever home with folks that either work or stay here. Knowing this fact helped me endear St. Francis Inn in my heart even more. I know I will be back!

Things to Do Near St. Francis Inn in St. Augustine

While I highly recommend a stay at the St. Francis Inn for relaxation and enjoyment, there are so many things to do that are close by and convenient. Your options are limited only by your sense of what you want to explore.

The Old Town Trolley Tour is fabulous. You can hop on one of the trolleys a block from St. Francis – you can even purchase a ticket at the Innkeeper Desk! It is a great way to see some of the beautiful things Saint Augustine offers.

Explore Castillo de San Marcos. It is the oldest masonry fort in the US and is quite enjoyable.

Meander along the famous St. George Street into the heart of the old city.

See Captain Jack Sparrow’s sword and learn about pirate history at the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum. Explore the paranormal of the nation’s oldest city with a Ghostly Tour.

Climb 219 steps to the top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse. View the stunningly unique and beautiful Lightner Museum. Take a tour of Flagler College – it will make you wish to be a college student again!

The Lighthouse at St. Augustine FL.
St. Augustine Lighthouse. Photo credit: Lisa Evans
Lisa Evans is an author, freelance travel journalist and photographer. She has always enjoyed the outdoors and nature and often includes them in her writing and photography. History and music are other passions – every place has a story to tell if only you find it. This love of history, along with her admiration for beautiful photographs pushes her to author stories and take photos to instill a desire in her readers to explore the world and discover new places. Lisa’s book, 100 Things To Do In Coastal Mississippi Before You Die, is available from Reedy Press. She is a member of professional writing organizations TravMedia, SATW, NATJA, IFWTWA, and Travel Writer’s University. Lisa maintains a website at www.writerlisa.com. Her social handles are @MyGypsyTravel and @100ThingsCoastalMS.
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