Upstairs in the parlor at Zero George is one of those places you’ll feel you’re at the heart of Charleston—natty upholstery, tall windows and walls, a few well-chosen flowers, and the smells of delicious food cooking in the kitchen house. It’s like you’ve found a private Charleston room with access to all the city’s secrets—history, design, and Lowcountry culture.
The peninsula of this 300-year-old port city is a prime setting for boutique hotels both grand and quirky. As many hoteliers have already found, Charleston has good architectural bones, and healthy stock of showy downtown buildings—formerly the digs of wealthy 18th- and 19th-century planters—have already been converted into lodgings. Among the newest is the Vendue, a centuries-old property that just reopened with a chic, modern-art theme; and there are more debuts to come. City locals and visitors are excitedly waiting to check out the Grand Bohemian Hotel and the Spectator Hotel—both of which have announced 2015 openings.
I love this place, and it looks like New Yorkers, Euro travelers, and locals (who frequent the café) are making it a darling of Charleston. There’s nothing frumpy about this collection of historic houses that surround a courtyard; the rooms are elegantly classic and modern. Cooking classes, gourmet meals, and great bottle selections from the winemaking owners are on offer, too.
This property’s Tiffany glass and tall magnolias let you know you’ve entered the grandest house in the neighborhood. If you’re lucky enough to stay here, ask to see the rooftop cupola for a rare view of the city in all directions—most locals haven’t had the chance. The elegant inn and its Circa 1886 restaurant win accolades year after year.
French Quarter Inn
This place has a terrific location: It’s right beside the City Market, just down Church Street from plays and music at Dock Street Theatre, and in view of the Tuscan porticoes and iconic steeple of St. Phillip’s Church. The champagne at check-in is genius; so is the menu of seven pillow types, ranging from down to hypo-allergenic and buckwheat.
Restoration on King
This hotel is the epitome of hip, urban comfort. Each of the apartment-style suites here has a full kitchen, exposed-brick walls, separate bedroom(s), and windows overlooking King Street and Wentworth Street. You’re right above a string of cool boutiques and right down the street from Charleston Grill; no car needed, just walk to dinner and shopping. There’s a rare, private rooftop deck, too.
Andrew Pinckney Inn
It’s a bit tucked away, but you’ll know you’ve arrived when you see this inn’s buttercup-gold facade just a stone’s throw from the dining tables at Hank’s Seafood. Horse-pulled carriages clip-clop past on Pinckney Street; guests gather at wine receptions on the rooftop patio before retiring to their airy, two-floor, townhouse suites.