Known as the oldest city in the United States, St. Augustine is also home to one of the oldest hotels, Casa Monica Resort & Spa.
As soon as we pulled up to the hotel’s valet, we arrived to a beautiful archway. You can see immediately notice all the Spanish and Moorish influence of the exterior. The Lobby is ornate and has a lot of detail. Inside you’ll find several fountains and beautiful chandeliers.
The Hotel Lobby
The Standard Room + Suites at the Casa Monica
We stayed in one of the standard rooms during our stay. Our room had a king-size bed with a gorgeous red tufted headboard. The bed itself is one hundred percent the comfiest bed I’ve ever slept in. The tv is on the smaller size and on a vintage dresser. Our room also featured a desk with a charging station. As well as a pullout couch for additional guests. Our window had a small balcony facing Flagler College, although the windows do not open.
One of the front desk clerks was nice enough to give us a quick tour of the suites in the Casa Monica hotel. Several of them had amazing views facing Flagler College and the Lightner Museum. And a few of the suites had multiple floors with additional beds.
Dining at the Casa Monica
There are plenty of places to grab a seat and dine at the Casa Monica. Although, we ate around the city, we got to take a look at the restaurant space and private dining areas.
The Amenities of the Resort
The Casa Monica Resort has several amenities, including the pool with a hot tub and fitness center. Attached to the hotel is the Poseidon Spa. Another amenity we think every guest should take advantage of is the exclusive access to the private Serenata Beach Club and Palencia Golf Club. The beach club is about 12 minutes down the street. Serenata Beach Club features multiple pools and beach access to the Atlantic Ocean.
The History of the Casa Monica
Formerly known as Cordova Hotel then, Alcazar Annex, this hotel has a fascinating history. Opening in 1888 by Victorian architecture enthusiast, Franklin W. Smith, this hotel is Moorish Revival with a blend of Spanish Baroque Revival style.
Later, the hotel including the furniture, fixtures, linens, and building was purchased by Henry Flagler. Franklin Smith ran into financial issues trying to keep up with this lavish hotel and Flagler picked it up right away! Henry Flagler owned two other hotels in St. Augustine, including the Ponce de Leon Hotel (now Flagler College) and the Hotel Alcazar, which is now City Hall and the famous Lightner Museum. Henry Flagler was an oil tycoon. Interestingly, these hotels are all within the same area so it’s rumored to believe that Flagler didn’t want any competition with his other hotels.
The hotel received its second name Alcazar Annex in 1902 when a small bridge connected the hotel to Hotel Alcazar (known today as the Lightner Museum). Although, that bridge was removed in 1945 after its closure in 1934. It’s said that the darker shapes on each building were where the bridge connected the two hotels.
In May 1968, the Hotel became the St. Johns County Courthouse and filled that role until the 1990s. And during that time, a historical event took place, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which was led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Dr. Robert Hayling. Making the hotel a civil rights landmark.
The Casa Monica Currently
In 1997, the building is purchased and remodeled to become a hotel again. This time by Richard Kessler, as part of the Kessler Collection. The renovation kept most of the Moorish Revival details including the Moorish-styled woodwork in the lobby.
Some other Hotels from the Kessler Collection including:
The MANSION ON FORSYTH PARK in SAVANNAH, GA.The GRAND BOHEMIAN HOTEL ORLANDO in ORLANDO, FLThe BOHEMIAN HOTEL SAVANNAH RIVERFRONT in SAVANNAH, GA
We came here because St. Augustine is a major Holiday Destination. Its Night of Lights has won many awards. One of them being one of the best places to visiting during the Christmas Season. With over 3 million Christmas lights adorning the town. It’s truly a magical time to visit!
The Casa Monica Hotel is the only hotel in St. Augustine that is given an AAA’s Four-Diamond award.
One of it’s most famous guest was Bill Clinton. Our 42nd President of the United States (1993 – 2001)!
For more on St. Augustine, visit the Destination page here!