These Charleston hotels go all-out for the holiday season.

By Elizabeth Rhodes
December 13, 2020
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Gingerbread house at French Quarter Inn
Credit: Courtesy of French Quarter Inn

Editor's Note: Those who choose to travel are strongly encouraged to check local government restrictions, rules, and safety measures related to COVID-19 and take personal comfort levels and health conditions into consideration before departure.

Growing up in South Carolina, the holiday season meant Palmetto trees wrapped in sparkling lights, festive boat parades, and the occasional 70-degree Christmas (no sweaters needed). Charleston is one of my favorite destinations in the United States, and Travel + Leisure readers seem to agree, since it was voted the top city in the U.S. for the eighth year in this year’s World’s Best Awards. While it’s lovely year-round, I think the holiday season is a beautiful time to visit the southern city, and although things are a little different this year, visitors will still find that festive spirit in the Holy City this year.   

Christmas tree outside Belmond Charleston Place
Credit: Courtesy of Belmond Charleston Place

Even though a few classic yearly events like the Charleston Holiday Parade of Boats were canceled this year, there’s still plenty to see and do during the holidays. Walking through downtown Charleston to see the stores and homes decorated for the season and shopping for gifts along King Street are always must-dos, and I love driving through the James Island Holiday Festival of Lights (which is still happening this year, although visitors won’t be able to leave their cars except to use the restroom). Plus, with perfectly temperate winter weather, visitors can continue to enjoy outdoor dining and walks on the nearby beaches throughout the season. 

Hot chocolate in front of holiday decorations
Credit: Courtesy of French Quarter Inn

The true stars of the season this year are the incredible Charleston hotels with delightful decor and seasonal offerings. Of course, all these hotels have a number of new procedures to promote guest health and safety during the pandemic, too (you can find specifics on their respective websites). The French Quarter Inn (another World’s Best Award-winner) goes all-out with classic decorations in the lobby, but the hotel’s merriest room — the Sleigh Bell Suite — offers the ultimate holiday experience. The suite is decked out with festive decorations and an in-room tree, and you can sit by the fireplace and enjoy some bourbon-spiced eggnog and snack on freshly-baked cookies while you watch Christmas movies — the perfect way to spend a cozy December night, if you ask me. Plus, guests staying at the hotel on Christmas Eve can listen as Santa reads “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” and carolers sing classic songs. 

drink at The Spectator Hotel bar
Credit: Courtesy of The Spectator Hotel

Next door, The Spectator offers a more subdued holiday experience with pretty decor, personalized butler service (they can help you with any of your holiday needs), and seasonal cocktails served at The Bar. And of course, Belmond Charleston Place goes all-out in the lobby and offers a Festive Moments package complete with in-room decorations (including a tree) and professional family photos. The HarbourView Inn even has a buyout option for groups that want to take over this charming hotel located just across from the waterfront. Buyout guests get seasonal amenities, in-room decorations, warm winter breads from a nearby bakery for breakfast, and a visit from carolers and Santa on Christmas Eve. 

Elizabeth Rhodes is an associate digital editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her adventures on Instagram @elizabetheverywhere