Originally founded in 1670 around its port, this deep south city is now a blend of modernist art culture and historic gems. Come here to wander the cobblestone streets and admire the pastel antebellum houses of the French Quarter and Battery districts. Or to check out artists’ studios, catch some experimental theatre and savour South Carolina’s cuisine. Those wishing to swim or surf can do so at one of five beaches. You may spot pineapples at the entrance of venues and homes; the fruit is traditionally used in the “holy city” as a method of demonstrating hospitality.
The Dewberry Charleston
This mid-century modernist construction overlooking Marion Square was once the L. Mendel Rivers Federal Building, first commissioned by President Kennedy back in the 1960s. It became The Dewberry in 2016, forming 154 ADA compliant bedrooms and suites. Each boasts custom-designed Stickley armoires with the hotel brand’s own botanical pattern, works by Charleston-based artists, a curated selection of books, lighting from the local Urban Electric Co. and bathrooms wrapped in Danby, Vermont marble. A lobby, spa, Living Room, Citrus rooftop bar and Henrietta’s brasserie restaurant, make up the public spaces.
The Charleston-based Bennett family are behind this grande dame, a hotel reflecting Charleston’s elegant and graceful nature. Hotel Bennett opened in 2019, but was in the planning for over a decade prior. Refined and plush, it has 179 bedrooms, the Fiat Lux rooftop bar and the Art Deco-inspired Camellias bar, the two-tiered Gabrielle restaurant focussing on the coast’s seafood and La Pâtisserie, paying homage to the city’s European connections. A chic rooftop pool has sea views, plus there’s a spa and a concierge to help with anything you need during your stay.
Dating back to the Gilded Age, this was once the private home of wealthy cotton merchant Francis Silas Rodgers and his 14-strong family (plus 24 servants). Built in the Second Empire style by architect Daniel G. Waynes, it has a rooftop cupola and spans 24,000-square-feet over four floors. Now a boutique hotel, it has 50 bedrooms, some of which have hot tubs for two and library nooks. Original features — including pocket doors with 19th century brass hardware, 14-foot ceilings, Tiffany windows, hand-carved moulding and marble fireplaces — are everywhere making it a veritable sweetie shop for fans of period residences. The stables have been repurposed as a luxe spa and the carriage house as a restaurant.
Stay in the Historic District in one of 64 bedrooms at Planters Inn. Built in 1844, it retains a period feel, with handcrafted four-poster beds from the Baker Historic Charleston Collection, 10-foot ceilings, working fireplaces and antique furnishings. Each bedroom has Italian hemstitched bedding by Mascioni, private-label bath products, travertine marble bathrooms, etchings from Elizabeth O’Neill Verner and prints from John James Audubon. Pass through the lantern-lit carriage courtyard to enter the Peninsula Grill, the city’s pre-eminent restaurant, where Chef Kalen Fortuna presents fine Southern dishes. Planters Inn is found opposite the Charleston City Market.
Grand Bohemian Hotel Charleston, Autograph Collection
Art lovers will revel in the Grand Bohemian Gallery, a key feature of this trendy hotel. The elegant white four-storey property was completed in 2014, incorporating a light-filled lobby with a pink chandelier and a soaring ceiling. 50 bedrooms have an eclectic decor, with French vintage style headboards upholstered with a bold, mustard-coloured crushed velvet and colourful arty cushions, plus LUSH products in the marble bathrooms. Public spaces blend European glamour with a more rustic vibe (think exposed brick walls and wooden beams). While outside, there’s a snazzy rooftop bar and a cute ground-floor seating area for charming morning coffees.