I have a post that goes very in-depth about the best places to stay in Savannah, but today I’m going to give you an honest rundown regarding what to expect if you decide to stay on River Street.

While staying in a hotel along the waterfront isn’t necessarily a terrible idea, it’s a lot like visiting NYC and staying in Times Square. I just want you to know what to expect before you plop down hundreds of dollars per night for that waterfront view!

River Street is one of Savannah’s entertainment hubs, so it’s a bustling area that stays noisy from street traffic and activities. Just something to keep in mind!

Entrance to a hotel on River Street with two gas lanterns illuminating the doorway

Note: This guide contains affiliate links to my trusted travel partners.

The Riverfront: West vs. Central vs. East

Each section of the waterfront has a distinct “personality.”

The far west end of the waterfront is the Plant Riverside District (PRD), the central portion is the Landmark Historic District (LHD), and the east end is called the Eastern Wharf District (EWD).

Here’s a map to give you a visual:

Watercolor map showing three sections of the Savannah waterfront. The Plant Riverside District is indicated by a pale blue marker along the far west side of the river, the Landmark Historic District is indicated with a green marker along the central portion of the waterfront, and the Eastern Wharf District is noted with a dark blue marker on the far east side of the waterfront

Plant Riverside District | PRD

Much of the Plant Riverside District was developed around 2020, so it’s a relatively new area. It’s the area closest to the big Savannah bridge. It includes a mix of historic buildings and a few new ones.

Plant Riverside is one of Savannah’s most popular entertainment districts, so expect lots of live music, events, and activities.

There is a public parking garage in this district with rates ranging from $10 to $45.

Landmark Historic District | LHD

The Landmark Historic District takes up the largest and most-central portion of the waterfront. During the 1800s, this historic section of the river saw more cotton exported along its banks than any other place in the world! It was a very industrial area.

This middle section of the waterfront looks the most historic in appearance, thanks to its ballast-stone streets and centuries-old cotton warehouses. This area stays busy with foot traffic, road traffic, and events. It has the highest concentration of restaurants and businesses.

There are no public parking garages along the waterfront in this section the Historic District, but there are two city-owned surface lots and at least one private lot.

Eastern Wharf District | EWD

The Eastern Wharf District is the newest section of the waterfront, and it’s still under construction. This section includes a mix of commercial and residential spaces, with more of a focus on residential.

Although large events are occasionally held in the Eastern Wharf District, the area is relatively quiet most of the time — aside from some construction noise.

There is a city-owned parking garage in the Eastern Wharf District, and there are also surface lots surrounding the hotels and businesses in the area.

Related Reading: Check Out My Top Savannah Parking Tips

Hotels on River Street Savannah GA

Here’s a quick list of the hotels that have an unobstructed waterfront view.

This list goes from the west side of the river (the closest section to the Savannah bridge) to the east. I’ve indicated which district the hotel is located in or left it blank if it borders between two districts.

The Alida is a beautiful hotel located in the Plant Riverside District, but since the JW Marriott blocks most of its waterfront views, I didn’t include it on the list.

The Pros

If you’re the type of traveler who likes being in the heart of the action, the waterfront is a good place to stay. The area is bustling with activity day and night.

Here are some of the perks of staying on River Street:

  • Bars and restaurants stay open later than many spots further into the city.
  • Watching the cargo ships is one of the most unique things you can experience in Savannah!
  • The sunsets views are amongst the best in the city — especially from the rooftop bars.
  • The street performers and artists add a fun touch of personality to the area.
  • If you have a sweet tooth, there are plenty of candy and cookie shops lining River Street.
  • The history of the waterfront is evident nearly everywhere you look in the Historic District and in Plant Riverside. You can see it in the the old cotton warehouses, historic (steep!) steps, rusted downspouts, and ballast-stone streets.

Overall, the area is steeped in history, and it’s pretty cool to relax on a hotel balcony as massive container ships cruise past throughout the day and night.

The Cons

Now, if you’re someone who prefers peace and quiet, the Savannah waterfront probably isn’t the ideal place for you. Here’s why…

  • Drivers enjoy cruising down River Street while blasting loud music for attention.
  • Motorcyclists also love to rev their engines while riding down River Street.
  • Many of the restaurants on River Street aren’t as good as options elsewhere in the city.
  • Where there are tourists, there’s a good chance of panhandlers looking to make a quick buck.
  • Expect to pay steep valet fees at most of the hotels in the area (approximately $45/day).
  • There’s a lingering scent of urine and weed in some areas that never really fades away, and the central section of River Street seems like it could use a good scrubbing with an industrial-sized bottle of bleach.

Overall, the waterfront is a busy, working area. It’s where the hustle happens!

Additional Considerations…

It’s not uncommon to find members of the homeless community sleeping along the waterfront. In my experience they’re generally harmless and just want to be left alone to sleep in peace.

Also, when I mention traffic and road noise, please be aware that River Street runs from the Ocean City Terminal (one of the ports in Savannah) through the Plant Riverside District, and then it ends on the far eastern end of the Landmark Historic District.

Here’s a visual to show where it ends…

Pale green and blue watercolor map with a red dotted line indicating where River Street begins and ends (at the intersection of E Bay Street) in Savannah

Because it doesn’t cut through the Eastern Wharf District, that section doesn’t (typically) have the high levels of street noise of the other two districts.

Top Riverfront Hotels by District

These are the most popular hotels in each section of along the waterfront, according to readers.

Plant Riverside District | PRD

The JW Marriott Plant Riverside is the only hotel in the Plant Riverside District that offers true waterfront property. It’s very popular amongst tourists, since it has a little something for everyone.

There’s a giant chrome dinosaur in the lobby for the kids, adults can enjoy the two rooftop bars, and there are a handful of restaurants on site. (Stone & Webster Chophouse is one of the better ones.)

Landmark Historic District | LHD

This one’s a no-brainer. River Street Inn is centrally located along the waterfront, so you can’t beat it for the convenience factor.

The historic property is exactly what you’d expect of a hotel on River Street, with rows of gas lanterns lining the front entrance and exposed brick walls throughout. Their staff excels at Southern hospitality.

Eastern Wharf District | EWD

Stay at the Thompson Savannah in the Eastern Wharf District if you want the beautiful riverfront view but prefer to enjoy it from a quieter area.

You’ll feel completely pampered at this hotel, which includes the only Les Clefs d’Or USA concierge in the city, fine art from Laney Contemporary, and a driver to chauffeur you to dinner in one of the complimentary house Teslas.

If you choose a room with a riverfront view, you can, quite literally, lie in bed and watch giant cargo ships cruise past the window.

Do you have questions about any of the hotels on River Street in Savannah GA? If so, please ask in the comments below.