Casa Monica Hotel Review - The Elegant Place to Stay in St. Augustine, FL

A Kessler Property

Traveling with my Father, wife and daughter I was concerned a historic landmark in the nation’s oldest city, Casa Monica Hotel would not meet all our needs but I am happy to say it exceeded them. 

The AAA Four-Diamond awarded hotel is a favorite with celebrities, travelers and even among locals. In 1999 the landmark hotel was fully restored and its rich history shines through the fortress-like architecture.  Overlooking the downtown district and Matanzas Bay the Hotel is very impressive.

Impressive Landmark

When we arrived we were taken aback by the beauty of the grand lobby which is adorned with Moroccan frescos, fountains, tapestries and magnificent chandeliers. It almost felt as if we were magically transported to our rooms, only two of the 138 timeless guestrooms and suites.  Everywhere is old world charm among Spanish-style romanticism.  My daughter just loved her plush red velvet tufted headboard and my wife loved the classical furnishings with gold accents.  All I care about is a good bed and that was delivered in style. We were all just transported back in time.

Sleep in Comfort

Traveling is a great time to learn about history and that is just what we did. St. Augustine is the nation’s oldest continuously occupied city and I thought it was Boston. It is quite possibly the most charming of American cities.  St. Augustine was established in 1565 by Spanish explorer and admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Called the “ancient city,” (for America) St. Augustine’s charisma and year-round mild climate made it the perfect to visit with the family. It’s history is easy to imagine while strolling along the cobblestone streets.  The iconic lighthouse, Castillo de San Marcos fort make for great adventures in the city boasting a Fountain of Youth.

This great hotel we stayed in has quite a history too. Originally opening on January 1, 1888 to only 3 guests, Franklin W. Smith sold Casa Monica Hotel after only a few months to the famous Henry Flagler for $325,000. Renaming the hotel to Hotel Cordova, it thrived right up to the depression, when it had to close. Interestingly the Hotel was purchased for only $250,000 in 1962 and served for another 30 years as the County Courthouse.

In more recent history, the property was brought by Richard C. Kessler, chairman and CEO of The Kessler Collection. The extraordinary makeover cost $10 million and I believe it was worth every penny.  The luxurious St. Augustine hotel creates the same splendor for guests today as it did in the Guilded Age nearly over 125 years ago. The cultural mystique, worldly flavor and excellent use of art combine to allure discerning travelers, such as; celebrities, political figures, musicians and artists, which I know happened in the past.

Enjoy the Pool

The property itself is beautiful. The pool, restaurants and shops are unsurpassed. All the elements combine to make guests happy. My Father loved the Grand Bohemian Gallery which featured work by local, regional, world-renowned and of course, Kessler Signature artists. This visually stimulating art gallery has something for everyone’s taste from paintings and sculptures, to handbags and jewelry. It was great fun. Rare and original pieces of art ranged from oil paintings, glass, wood, contemporary jewelry, bronze sculptures and unique gift items.

The dining is a decadent experience at the 95 Cordova Restaurant. We entered through 24-karat gold leaf arches to lavish antiques with intricately hand-painted ceilings that I found magnificent. In this restaurant the dining experience is celebrated as an art form. Just like the Gallery the seasonally inspired new world and eclectic menu provide fresh flavor that pleased. We loved the wine cellar choices and the Kessler Calamari signature appetizer. Our entree favorites, included Chilean Sea Bass and Blue Cheese Filet Mignon. This experience was all about discerning tastes amongst elegance.

Enjoy the Interior

Dining more casually is an extension of the 95 Cordova, the café. It is a European style café that is comfortable in every way.  Our family other guests and even locals had bite or a cappuccino all while enjoying the sights and sounds of the plaza.  on the terrace. Café Cordova offers a wide array of food ranging from light breakfasts, bagels or pastries, signature sandwiches, and soups and salads. Hands down my favorite was the Cuban sandwich, said to be the best in all St. Augustine.  

While my Father looked after his granddaughter, my wife and I went on a date to the hotel’s Cobalt Lounge.  The candlelight and jazz was what we needed to unwind. Then we had handcrafted cocktails and tried more than one of the signature New World martini menu.  We were surrounded by inspiring artwork and learned the region’s most sought-after musicians play at the lounge. My wife enjoyed the raspberry sparkler martini and I topped the night off with a wonderful scotch. The only problem was getting back to our room.

Always a woman, my wife wanted to learn about the wedding facilities. Casa Monica Hotel was awarded “Best of Weddings” by The Knot Magazine for a good reason. A bride can have any theme from Arabian Nights complete with belly dancers, or celebrated more traditionally, indoors or out at the Sultan’s Pavilion and pool terrace. Your wedding can be an intimate celebration or a grand reception. The Mediterranean revival-style architecture of the hotel is all within walking distance of historic churches and places of worship. There are nuptial experts to make that most important day unforgettable at the Casa Monica Hotel.  

A Suite

The easily accessible the Casa Monica Hotel makes business meetings easy with high tech amenities and old world charm. With 12,000 square feet of versatile meeting space, from richly adorned ballrooms and elegant private dining rooms, to a relaxing poolside terrace and stylish boardroom and a 24-hour business center your every need is considered.

Some of the notices for the Hotel include; Conde Nast Traveler -Readers’ Choice, The Knot -Best of Weddings,  Fodor’s Travel -Best Destination Weddings Hotel, Fodor’s Travel -No. 1 Hotel in Jacksonville, Florida Trend -Golden Spoon Award, “95 Cordova Chophouse” .

Casa Monica Hotel is a member of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, a group of independent boutique hotels. Guests at the hotel may both accrue and utilize their Marriott Rewards points while staying at most Kessler properties

Visit Kessler or Casa Monica or call 904.827.1888 toll-free: 888.213.8903. Follow Casa Monica at Facebook.com/CasaMonicaHotel 

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