Sleep in this historic hotel in Lyons, Georgia.
Let the name-dropping begin.
By Hope S. Philbrick
When standing in the middle of the street outside the Elberta Hotel in Lyons, Ga., to take a photo of the building, it pays to look both ways before walking out to the dotted yellow line, but it’s not exactly like you have to fear for your life. Cars may well drive by, but they’ll certainly slow down, and depending on the time of day and day of week, you might easily stroll out there, frame your shot, snap a few pictures, and then stroll back without interrupting any traffic.
Once upon a time, that road through Lyons, Georgia, was a major thoroughfare. It’s a stretch of U.S. Highway 1—the nation’s first highway, which runs from Maine to Key West, Florida—created in the 1920s. In its youth that route was frequently traveled; today, wider highways with fewer stoplights and faster speed limits are more favored by long-distance drivers.
Since it overlooks U.S. Highway 1, is literally mere steps away from it, and is roughly midway between Atlanta and the Florida state line, The Elberta Hotel enjoyed a busy heyday. Gone With The Wind author Margaret Mitchell and notorious bad guy Al Capone were among its guests (at various points in time; I’m not suggesting they vacationed together). Once you’ve spent a night, you can honestly tell all your friends that you slept where they did.
…which is not to suggest there’s any chance of sleeping on the same bed! The place has been, and is in the process of being, remodeled. So there’s history, yes, but also modern conveniences.
Inside the hotel there’s a mix of antiques and new purchases, private guest rooms and public gathering places.
“The Elberta Hotel was first built in 1895,” says current owner Paul Mead. “But it was wood and burnt to the ground. In 1905 it was rebuilt and served as the social center of Toombs County.” The hotel passed through several different owners’ hands and started falling into disrepair in the 1960s; in recent decades gained an ill repute. But by the mid-2000s, Mead and his business partners took over, kicked out loiterers, and started major renovations, from sanding the floors to replacing the roof and overhauling much of what lies between, below and above. In recent years, several European business professionals have favored the Elberta Hotel as long-term housing. This spring Mead and his wife decided to transition the business into a more traditional hotel model serving primarily short-term and overnight guests.
Remodeling a building that’s more than 100 years old is hard work and an ongoing process. Despite these challenges and the setbacks he’s encountered, the goal, says Mead, is to create an upscale lodging experience. It’s a grand vision, and one that is easy to embrace as your own.
Whatever brings you to Lyons or the greater Vidalia area, the historic Elberta Hotel is a fun, comfortable, quirky place to hang your hat for a night or two.
- Free Internet access
- Each guest room and suite is individually decorated
- All 13 guest rooms have a different floor plan. Six rooms offer King beds, five offer Queen beds and two offer Full-sized beds
- Rates from $75 per night
- Pets permitted; deposit required
- The hotel is on the second story; the street-level suites house various retailers. There is no elevator
- Elberta Hotel is a small, privately-owned hotel in a small town; there’s not someone sitting at the reception desk awaiting your call. To make a reservation or ask questions, leave a message for the owner to call you back
- Odds of Encountering Children: Lowest during the week when school is in session, highest during the annual Vidalia Onion Festival.
Where To Eat…
Elements Bistro & Grill
104 NW Broad St.
Lyons, GA 30436
Located diagonally across the street from The Elberta Hotel, Elements Bistro & Grill has earned a reputation as THE place to go for the best food in the greater Vidalia area. Expect to see locals celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions, as well as foodies from throughout the region there to savor the creative dishes of Chef John Mark Lane. Don’t miss the crab cakes, lobster ravioli, pasta bolognaise, or red meat seared to perfection. Remember, you’re in Vidalia onion country, so if you see Vidalia onions on the menu, order whatever dish mentions them. You won’t get them any fresher or closer to their home.
102 SE Broad St.
Lyons, GA 30436
Lyons, Georgia was among the stops of the #DSGetaway shared by Deep South Magazine and Getaways for Grownups. To read more related features, click on the DSGetaway tag on this site or on DeepSouthMag.com. On Facebook and Twitter, search #DSGetaway.
– Photos © HSP Media LLC
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