The Hotel Emeline combines city style with southern hospitality.

By Caroline Eubanks
August 23, 2020
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Upon walking through the original arched door of the new Hotel Emeline, the eye is pulled in a number of directions. Opened in July in Charleston’s Historic District, the stylish lobby welcomes guests with a woodsy aroma of the hotel’s custom-made scent. Plush sofas provide guests with a place to relax while listening to records. The hotel seems to have countless corners for curiosity.

Inside Hotel Emeline’s playful Italian-inspired eatery, Frannie and the Fox, are mid-century style green banquettes and palm-printed chairs. The restaurant itself is a sister restaurant to Hank’s Seafood, a Charleston icon located next door. But it’s the curtain-covered hallway between the restaurant and the Keep Shop, the hotel’s curated gift shop, that has the most interesting feature.

Credit: Hotel Emeline/Lindsey Shorter

In a nod to speakeasies, the wallpaper-lined hallway of the appropriately named Foxhole has four wooden stools up against the wall. Here, guests can press a button that signals the bartender on the other side, similar to the “Press for Champagne” buttons that have made the rounds on social media. A wooden panel will slide up, allowing you to order your drink without leaning across the bar.

For the full experience, bar manager Josh Daws recommends bringing a friend or companion to snap your photo.

“I think that it begs to have a friend with you to take a photo because it's just so unique and interesting,” Daws told Travel + Leisure. “It sort of pulled people in and then once you get there and you take a photo, you just sort of ease into the space and.. .once it's pulled you in you stay for an hour.”

The cocktail menu features rum and aperitivo-based drinks, including the Garibaldi, which Daws recommends to Foxhole patrons. “It has roots deep in Italian cocktail culture,” he says of the drink named for an Italian revolutionary.

Credit: Hotel Emeline/Lindsey Shorter

The drink has the delightful bitterness of the Aperol Spritz or Negroni, made with Campari, and adds Italian-made Malfy blood orange gin. The bar’s version also features fresh squeezed orange juice served frothed like cappuccino foam.

While the cocktail window wasn’t created solely for the era of social distancing, it was something that translated well into what’s going on right now. Guests can sip their drinks while watching the wood-fired pizzas crisp in the oven before ordering one for themselves, the aforementioned fox painting smiling at them from the wall.

But the Foxhole isn’t the only fun feature at the property. Hotel Emeline’s Keep Shop is chock full of artisan- and locally-made goods like their custom candles and room spray, a feature at fellow Makeready properties (Noelle in Nashville and The Alida in Savannah, among others), as well as custom-made Stetson hats and local leather bags.

Clerk Coffee is a much-needed addition to the City Market area, serving roasts from nearby Second State Coffee alongside pastries and sandwiches. It takes its name from the historic building’s former life as a mercantile and bank. Most prominent in the cafe is the mint-green La Marzocco espresso machine.

Credit: Hotel Emeline/Lindsey Shorter

The completely redesigned Emeline was previously an unassuming chain hotel, now with over 200 pet-friendly, all-king rooms and suites steps away from Charleston’s most iconic landmarks. Every floor comes equipped with a tap for sparkling or still water on demand, with a carafe placed in every room. Accommodations also have Wildsam field guides and some even have Crosley record players with a curated album of local artists, also on sale in the Keep Shop.

Because Hotel Emeline’s opening took place in the midst of the pandemic, the hotel was fully prepared with safety measures in place. All employees wear masks and have their temperatures checked, from restaurant staff to the front desk. Hand sanitizer is available outside the elevator and wipes are provided at the water station. The restaurant is also keeping patrons apart and is operating at reduced capacity.

Hotel Emeline is poised to become a part of the Charleston community, bridging the gap between locals and tourists. It’s where residents would want their friends to stay, giving them a sense of the city’s hospitality without coming into their own homes.