Saint James Hotel Selma (Alabama)

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Hotel class: 3 stars
1200 Water Avenue, Selma, AL, USA
Saint James Hotel - Main entrance of St. James
Saint James Hotel - Courtyard
Saint James Hotel - Courtyard
Saint James Hotel - Courtyard

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Saint James Hotel Selma (Alabama) Reviews

Transitory Transito…
63 reviews
Possibly Haunted, Isolated, Antebellum Hotel Mar 20, 2009
Selma isn't really a destination town. After all if you want an old southern town with old architecture, haunted charm, ghost stories etc., it would be more wise to stop off in Savannah, Georgia or New Orleans, Louisiana, and have a more populous community with established areas for travelers i.e. restaurants, galleries, inns, shops etc.

However if you were stopping over, Selma has some charm left in her, like an old Madame with new lipstick. As in the old bones are preserved and have been somewhat restored but she's still worn and left behind in an abandoned town.

St. James Hotel is set right next to the Mississippi river, a great view if you are lucky to get a room overlooking it. There is plantation style furniture, and large overhead fans. There are also creaky pipes, occasional flickering of lights, both things that aid the continuation of "ghost sightings."

One night, when my friends and I were trying to sleep we heard knocking coming from our closet. Armed with umbrellas and rolled up magazines, we timidly approached the closet and swung the door. *Sigh of relief* an old pipe. Supposedly, the old Confederate outlaw Jesse James stayed there. We didn't appeal to him enough to warrant a visit however :D.

The interior of the hotel is really lovely antebellum style that slave labor built...with hardwood floors, elegant rugs, antiques and antique replicas. There are also lots of staircases that don't connect to each other. For ex. if you are on the 3rd floor, the staircase MIGHT access to the 2nd floor and then all the way to an EXIT outside on the 1st floor but NOT connecting to the 1st floor to the lobby or courtyard. Or some staircases on the third floor will only lead you to exit out the hotel on the 1st floor, not connecting to the other floors at all. It's a strange layout, probably to serve the original guests: men visiting the prostitutes, as St. James was a brothel at one point. Thus lots of discreet exits :). One of the staff members told us it was also to confuse the ghosts so they couldn't find their way around...

The best part, the saving grace of the hotel is the courtyard, which is lovely at night, with the light flickering off the water from the fountain. The second floor rooms all open and overlook the courtyard. Unfortunately, there wasn't any company to share the night with besides my friends. We just chatted with each other, with not so much as a peep surrounding us...dead silence. It didn't seem like there were ANY other guests while we were there, again emphasizing that abandoned, isolated feeling. The bar is cool, much like what you see in Old Western movies. It's saloon-style, however it was never really open or manned, as there were really no guests to speak of.

The town itself is small. Lots of boarded up, abandoned homes. Almost a ghost-town. This relates back to the period of around the 1960s in which a lot of businesses were abandoned and most people moved on to bigger cities.

Selma is def. a walking city. You can visit the Voting Rights Museum, and get a walking tour from Joanne Bland. Bland is a civil rights activist who pushed for desegregation in the 60s on Bloody Sunday on nearby Edmund Pettus Bridge, and got beaten for her efforts ;/ blah, racism.

You may also walk over the bridge to the park on the other side. There is an ancient-Greek style open air stone platform overlooking the river. The park, as all parks are, is leafy, green, quiet, isolated. Commune with nature or what have you...

St. James is a lovely hotel with historically accurate furnishing, old curled iron gates, great balconies. The surrounding town isn't much to speak of. No est. nightlife, few museums/galleries in the area, few restaurants, just a few barber shops, etc. The few locals who remain are very friendly however, lots of how are you's? and how y'all doing? They are as sweet as the sweet tea that's typically served in southern parts of America...warning: the water tastes odd in this area.

I think St. James would be awesome as a wedding locale, since most of the rooms seemed vacant, and it IS a very pretty spot, with reasonable rates, and/OR as a site for a murder mystery weekend. That might be fun to combine the two, no?

Warning: at night sometimes a sweet odor might waft through your room, it's not a question of the hotel's cleanliness. The smell is from a nearby wood processing plant, or something like that.
Courtyard
Main entrance of St. James
Link
Transitory says:
Thank ya very much!
Posted on: Mar 20, 2009
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Saint James Hotel Selma (Alabama) Overview

The St. James Hotel is the South's Only Remaining Antebellum Riverfront Hotel. Plantation owners, Union Soldiers, and the notorious, Frank and Jesse James, have slept here.

Perched on the bank of the Alabama River in Selma, Alabama, the St. James Hotel now anchors the Water Avenue Historic District and brings historical authenticity, community spirit, and good old Southern charm together to create a true treasure.

Built in 1837, the renovation of this grand hotel was a 6 million dollar project that brought together the small community of Selma, Alabama, in a joint effort to save historical authenticity along with a touch of Southern charm.

The beautifully furnished antebellum structure has been recreated after months of painstaking research to restore the St. James to its original glory.

Vintage lighting, original fireplace mantles, transom windows, rich wood flooring, and delicate antiques all come together to recreate the era of Plantation owners and gracious Old South living.

Whether you're a history buff, a lover of fine antiques, or simply appreciative of the finer things in life, you'll find a place especially for you at the St. James Hotel. In downtown Selma, one hour west of Montgomery, two hours south of Birmingham. Historical attractions nearby include the Confederate Foundry, Sturdivant Hall, National Voting Rights, Old Depot and Vaughan-Smitherman museums.

Saint James Hotel Amenities

  • Business Center
  • Room Service
  • High-speed Internet
  • Parking
  • Disabled Access
  • Concierge
  • Banquet Facilities
  • Multilingual Staff
  • Safe-Deposit Box
  • Meeting Rooms
  • Hair Dryer
  • Free Parking

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Saint James Hotel Selma (Alabama) Map
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Selma
photo by: FrankMcD