Growing up with New Orleans in my backyard, I learned there are three factors that make up a great vacation spot: good food, interesting people and creative cocktails. I found all three, plus a few more perks—the nearby Atlantic Ocean, for instance—at Casa Monica Hotel in St. Augustine, Florida. The town is our country’s oldest city, founded by the Spanish in 1565. Oil tycoon Henry M. Flagler arrived in the late 1880s, giving the charming town new life and exquisite hotels.
Located in the heart of the historic district, Casa Monica is surrounded by all the charm St. Augustine has to offer. Restaurants, bars and boutiques are within steps of the hotel’s front entrance. Pieces of Spanish history are found around every corner garnering a hint of Spanish charisma for the area. Across the street is Flagler College, whose main building and grounds are the former Ponce de León Hotel built by Flagler in 1888. The Casa Monica property itself was originally built the same year.
Back inside Casa Monica, the Spanish influence continues. Gold accents parade the red carpet in every room and suite while red velvet tufted headboards hover over white-pillowed beds. My room overlooked the outdoor pool, which is a necessity during the summer months.
After a day of walking, I needed a reprieve. It was time for the Poseidon Spa and its soothing nautical color scheme and Moroccan ambience. For my spa experience, I chose a full body treatment consisting of a face massage, body masque and hot stone massage—only a small sample of what the spa has to offer. I woke up to the sound of my massage therapist’s voice and my growling stomach. While fully relaxed, I was hungry—something the spa couldn’t fix.
Formally known as Costa Brava at 95 Cordova, the hotel restaurant hosts a Spanish Mediterranean dining journey for guests through its unique twists on small plates. For dinner I ordered the New York strip, which was accompanied by a black garlic agrodolce sauce, broccolini and bleu potato crisp. To say it was delicious would be a huge understatement. With a happy stomach, I had no other choice than to wash it all down with one (or two) of the many cocktails on the Costa Brava menu—making me feel right at home.