My husband and I recently spent the weekend at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel--a special anniversary occasion. It exceeded our expectations and we had a wonderfully memorable trip.
For atmosphere, ambience and sheer romance, you can't beat the JICH. It boggles my mind that it's only ranked #2 of hotels on Jekyll Island, but I suppose it's because it's not on the beach. However, it's overwhelming beauty, water views, gracious oaks and spectacularly maintained grounds make this a hotel worth staying at.
We flew into the small Jekyll Island airport Friday afternoon. The bell man from the hotel came to pick us up, no charge, as soon as we called. Check-in was easy, with friendly and very helpful staff.
We got the "romantic fantasy" package, which included a certain type room, bike rental, picnic lunch, champagne, etc.
Room: We chose to stay on the 3rd floor of Sans Souci, the olive green building right next to the main hotel building. If you are uncertain where to stay, there are 4 options. Sans Souci, the main hotel, Crane Cottage and Creek Cottage. All the buildings are within easy walking distance of each other so there really isn't an advantage of one over the other. I liked Sans Souci because it had huge porches with rocking chairs. We would sit outside, catch the breeze and watch the sun rise and set over the river (through the trees). Sans Souci rooms have connecting porches, but even though we had a neighbor we never saw them on the porch so we had it to ourselves. If you have small children, keep an eye on them with that porch as the railings are a bit lower than is comfortable for safety with kids. Also, directly across the Sans Souci is the pier on JI. There are two good seafood restaurants there, one casual and one a little more formal. They played live music both nights we were there, which we could hear clearly in our room. It wasn't disturbing to us, and didn't go much past 11 pm, but if you want absolute peace and quiet one of the Cottages would be a better choice. Sans Souci has no elevator so you have to climb the stairs, not an issue for us. Crane and Creek Cottages look beautiful and some also have a view of the water but neither of them have balconies or porches. The main hotel has some rooms with private "sun rooms" but these don't face the water. The best water view in the hotel is in the main hotel, with upper floor rooms that overlook the pool. Water views are not blocked by the trees here.
The room itself was huge, enormous bathroom with jacuzzi tub. We couldn't find the safe at first--it was in the bathroom cabinet. Bed was comfortable, clean. Had a nice fire place. Mini fridge which we didn't use at all, complimentary water bottles. We enjoyed the old-fashioned furnishings (old in style, not in age). Closet was a stand-alone wardrobe; this was tiny. We didn't bring lots of fancy clothes so this wasn't an issue. Sans Souci is over a hundred years old, and the vintage details like stained glass, carved staircases and beautifully detailed woodwork really made us feel like we had stepped back in time (except for the free wifi).
Amenities--we got drinks at the pool bar, they were good, staff was friendly, two drinks came to $14 total (includes tip). The pool was awesome--very deep though! Nine feet in the deep end. If you have small children, a flotation device is a must because they won't be able to stand in the shallow end. My over 6 ft husband had water up to his chest when he stepped off the entry stairs. Great pool though, plenty of towels and comfortable chairs. Junior Olympic swimming pool size. Great for laps or playing; heated too. We rented bikes, and they were great for riding the bike trails on the island. Porters help you get situated with your bike, very helpful. We had no trouble getting bikes; there were plenty available the weekend we were there. Did not do spa or other amenities.
Dining: Our package came with breakfast both mornings. This is an excellent buffet spread which we thoroughly enjoyed, served in the Grand Dining Room. Our waiter was gracious and very accommodating. I ordered hot chocolate, which is truly to die for. Creamy hot chocolate, covered with mounds of real whipped cream, chocolate swirls on top, garnished with three chocolate swirl sticks (white and dark chocolate). Amazing! Lunch came from their casual cafe, a packed picnic lunch and this was excellent as well. Very large portions, quite tasty. We also ate dinner in the Grand Dining Room. This was a very nice experience, although our waitress seemed a little unpolished compared to the rest of the wait staff. She served well, but the lack of elegance from her was a bit jarring. My husband's food was excellent--a fish dish, really outstanding, can't remember which, though! We ordered the wedge salad to share as a starter; this was perfect and a cut above the ordinary as far as salads go. I ordered the veal Oscar--the veal was unmemorable but the rest of the dish was outstanding. The desserts were fantastic, and are presented in a much better fashion than the display on the dessert tray. One caveat; we should have skipped the dessert because every dessert they had that night was served next morning at their fabulous brunch.
Brunch: Many people come just to the JICH for brunch and one can easily see why. This is the kind of brunch you would find at a Ritz, with southern flair. Truly outstanding desserts, imported meats/cheeses, made to order omelets. Everything was delicious. I don't recommend eating in the Grand Dining Room and then going for brunch the next morning. We made this mistake, because the next morning we were so full from dinner we couldn't do the brunch justice. I could only nibble at the feast and that about killed me, there was so much scrumptious food I never got to eat. Because we had a package, and breakfast was included, we were able to upgrade to the Sunday brunch for a small upcharge instead of going to their standard breakfast.
We did a later checkout at 1 (normally at noon). The bell man brought our luggage down and left it in the van for us while we continued to explore and enjoy the hotel. Whether you stay in the hotel or not, it truly is an amazing piece of history and well worth a visit for an afternoon. Wandering through the rooms, seeing all the old photographs, and reading about the famous people who stayed here was a great experience all around. When we left I asked the bell man where I could buy some water bottles, and he brought us 3 large ones, no charge.
Truly our stay at the JICH couldn't have been more perfect. The staff was uniformly helpful and friendly, the atmosphere was peaceful and rejuvenating at the same time. If you want a special get-away, this is the place to go. For those of you who like the beach, it is easy to stay at this hotel and get to the beach in 5 minutes. Access points are all over the island, so I wouldn't say that staying at the JICH stymies your beach experience if that's what you want. We saw plenty of couples and children, so it is a very family friendly hotel as well, even though we came without our kids. It is pricey, but if you want a cut above the ordinary, which is what JICH is, it's worth every penny. Can't recommend this place highly enough. We will be back.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.