8 Best Hotels in Charleston
Charleston claims one of the world’s liveliest culinary scenes and is a haven for history buffs, antebellum fanatics and antiques lovers. But you may have a hard time experiencing it all given what's on offer at the city's top stays (how can we blame you for wanting to hole up when your suite is tucked inside an 1886 mansion, with one of Charleston's best restaurants just downstairs?) Here, our list of the city's best hotels--and all the reasons you'll never want to leave them.
Jen has been a staff editor at Architectural Digest, Travel + Leisure, and Martha Stewart Weddings, and her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Afar, and Elle Decor. When she's not snowmobiling in the French Alps or tasting scotch straight from the barrel in Scotland, she's at home in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.
Zero George Street
For an introduction to Charleston’s genteel history and contemporary charm, head to Zero George Street, an understated boutique hotel that occupies five 19th-century buildings. The 16 guest rooms are the picture of subtle refinement, with heart pine flooring, Frette linens, and marble countertops. The hotel's best selling point is the culinary offerings: a custom Lacanche range dominates the front room of the 1804 carriage house, where chef Vinson Petrillo hosts cooking classes and prepares an ever-changing menu of Low Country specialties with a modern twist.
You won’t find a better view of Charleston’s famous steeples than from the rooftop cupola at Wentworth Mansion, the 1886 former residence of the city’s most successful cotton magnate. A walk through the wood-paneled parlor feels like a step back in time thanks to Tiffany stained-glass windows, parquet flooring, and Italian crystal chandeliers; the rooms are done up in a similar style with original mantels and era-appropriate antiques. Downstairs, the stables have been converted into a luxury spa, and the on-site carriage house is now Circa 1886, one of the South’s most acclaimed restaurants. Should you muster enough will to leave the property, the shops of King Street are just a 10-minute stroll away.
While most buildings in Charleston reflect the city’s antebellum history, The Spectator recalls its Gilded Age glamour. In the center of the French Quarter and near the iconic market, the 1920s-themed boutique hotel features antiqued mirrored ceilings, Deco-inspired wallpaper, and an ornate Murano glass chandelier (keep an eye out for Daisy, the stuffed white peacock in the lobby lounge that has become something of an unofficial mascot). The 41 guest rooms are outfitted with velvet headboards and marble vanities, but the hotel’s real draw is a personalized butler for each guest, who can arrange everything from a dinner reservation to a custom shoe polish.
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Don Draper would feel right at home at The Dewberry, a slick hotel in Marion Square with midcentury modern leanings. The wood-paneled lobby, complete with leather Poul Kjaerholm sofas, looks straight out of Sterling Cooper, but the 155 rooms skew contemporary, with canopy beds, oversized windows, and work by local artists. A cypress-walled spa serves as an aesthetic foil to a brass-clad lobby bar, the place to order a classic Manhattan, and Henrietta’s restaurant offers a gentle nod to 60s-era French brasseries with its marble tabletops, checkered black-and-white tiled flooring, and a menu that includes an elegant lobster-and-gruyere omelette.
If you’re looking for a stay that feels more like a visit to a gracious friend’s home (albeit one with the Old World charm that’s come to define the Holy City), consider Planter’s Inn. The 1844 brick building houses 64 guest rooms that are furnished with 18th century–inspired décor, including hand-carved four poster beds, floral-patterned drapery, and period antiques and reproductions. Behind a stately wrought-iron fence and garden courtyard on the main level, you’ll find the Peninsula Grill, one of the best—and frequently voted most romantic—restaurants in town thanks to its sophisticated oyster-hued velvet walls, upscale Southern menu, and world-famous coconut cake.
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Grand Bohemian Hotel
In a place that prides itself on an enduring antebellum aesthetic, modernists finally have a place to bed down in style. The 50-room Grand Bohemian Hotel is an edgy alternative to Charleston's stately manor homes, and includes a micro-roast café, an art gallery, and a wine tasting room where in-house sommeliers help guests create their own private label wine to bring back home. Although the rooms can feel like you’ve stepped into a mixed-media art piece—the upholstered headboards have the effect of gold leaf, the curtains look more like murals—the rooftop terrace restaurant Élevé channels old Charleston with French farm-to-table specialties and views of the city's rooftops.
John Rutledge House Inn
History seeps into every corner of the 254-year-old John Rutledge House Inn, a National Historic Landmark with a Greek Revival façade and original plaster moldings throughout the property. The bed and breakfast was the former residence of a signer of the U.S. Constitution and onetime governor of South Carolina, and its 19 rooms channel that time with elegant inlaid wood flooring, marble fireplace mantels, and 18th-century antiques. Take your breakfast in the garden before exploring the shops and restaurants on King Street. Just be sure to make it back in time for complimentary pours of port, sherry, and brandy at the inn’s evening cocktail hour.
The Airbnb set will find plenty to love at The Restoration, a centrally located Historic District boutique whose 54 apartment-style suites give do-it-yourself warriors all the amenities of a home stay (read stainless steel kitchenettes) with the luxury of a full-service hotel. Each unit is the picture of contemporary urban life, with exposed-brick walls, beamed wood ceilings, and furnishings that look straight out of a West Elm catalog, but there are plenty of small-town comforts, too: Breakfast arrives at your door each morning in a picnic basket, and bicycles are available on loan at the reception desk. Thanks to a recent renovation, the hotel now has a spa and nail salon, a library, and rooftop bar and pool area--it's one cool pad you may never want to leave.
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