The term old-meets-new tends to crop up a lot in travel writing, especially in city guides. And while we’re always weary of clichés, we will make an exception in this instance. The city of Charleston in South Carolina so perfectly marries old with new that it is (another cliché here) a timeless destination. On the one hand, you have a skyline dotted with church steeples, horse-drawn carriages clopping through cobblestone streets, magnificently coloured antebellum mansions looking out on to Fort Sumter and the historic sea fort where the first shots of the American Civil War were fired; but on the other hand, you have a town buzzing with vibrant culture, modern art museums, cutting-edge concept shops and contemporary cuisine.
The youthful vibe is owed in part to the presence of the College of Charleston, located in the heart of the city, which continuously attracts a student body of beautiful blondes from all over the United States. Of course, the city itself is not hard on the eyes either. The stunning 18th century architecture and perennially sunny skies lend a cinematic quality to the town so it’s no wonder that countless films have been shot here (ahem, The Notebook) or that movie stars retreat here regularly (Reese Witherspoon spent her honeymoon at Wentworth Mansion, and Blake Lively got married on a nearby plantation).
So yes, old does, in fact, meet new in the historic town of Charleston and we can comfortably say it is the epitome of classic cool. Whether you’re a history buff or a modern art millennial we’ve got the perfect Charleston South Carolina travel guide for you.
In our humble opinion, these are the best hotels in Charleston, South Carolina.
Nestled near the French Quarter, this boutique hotel is so discrete you could almost walk past it without noticing. With restored colonial architecture and shaded piazzas, Zero George is one of the most elegant places to stay in Charleston. At the hotel’s restaurant, Zero George Café and Bar, you can get a taste of local cuisine while enjoying the Charleston sea breeze, and for the hardcore gourmands the hotel also offers its guests small-group cooking classes in the kitchen carriage house with their renowned executive chef. Rooms are clean and chic, with a neutral Hampton aesthetic. Perfect for foodies and fashionistas alike.
Rooms from £160 per night
Just off bustling Meeting Street in the Historic District, Planters Inn perfectly marries charming history with modern luxury. With only 64 rooms, the atmosphere in this 19th century building is serene and guests are made to feel at home with daily morning coffee service and afternoon tea in the parlour. Rooms are spacious and traditionally decorated with period furniture, regal four-poster beds and marble bathrooms. On the weekend, stop by Brasserie Gigi next door for brunch – their beignets are the perfect morning treat.
Rooms from £179 per night
With its home-away-from-home vibe, you can feel free to entertain groups in your own studio apartment at The Restoration or on the furnished roof deck. Decor is cool and modern – all exposed brick, big windows and high ceilings. Be sure to grab one of their bikes for the day and pedal over to Caviar & Banana’s, a specialty gourmet food and coffee shop for a quick, delicious bite. We should also mention that you can order a picnic basket breakfast to your room every morning. (Who doesn’t love a charming doorstep delivery?)
Rooms from £192 per night
Admittedly, we love this hotel for its stunning rooftop. With breathtaking views of the city, a cascading swimming pool, cocktail bar and food menu, the rooftop is reason enough for us to stay at the Market Pavilion. Nonetheless, the hotel delivers on other fronts as well: it is conveniently located, the rooms are lavishly decorated and the bathrooms are stocked with Hermès toiletries. While the rooftop attracts a younger crowd, the luxury suites have housed countless celebrities and politicians, so you’ll be in good company either way.
Rooms from £217 per night
Feel transported to the Gilded Age in this historic Charleston residence. The stunning stately home offers 21 magnificent rooms to choose from, each with a working fireplace, whirlpool bath tub, stocked refrigerator and cosy robes to snuggle in, but is much more intimate than your typical 5-star super-hotel. The experience here goes far beyond the luxurious bedrooms; guest can enjoy complimentary breakfast in the neighbouring carriage house, afternoon hors d’oeuvres and evening wine in the ground-floor parlour (or port, brandy or sherry if you so fancy). Make sure to take your cocktail to the rooftop cupola for a gorgeous view of the city.
Rooms from £275 per night
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