By John Wogan
July 08, 2020
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Credit: Courtesy of Wentworth Mansion

This year’s World’s Best Awards survey closed on Mar. 2, just before widespread stay-at-home orders were implemented as a result of COVID-19. The results reflect our readers’ experiences before the pandemic, but we hope that this year’s honorees will inspire your trips to come — whenever they may be.

Visiting Charleston feels like a dream. Its collection of grand 18th- and 19th-century buildings is remarkably well preserved, and it’s perhaps easier here than anywhere else to have an out-of-time experience. The South Carolina city’s top hotels offer their own dreaminess, too — several occupy meticulously renovated historic mansions, with the atmosphere to match.

Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities.

Respondents this year found much to praise about Charleston’s hotels, like this year’s No. 6, Zero George Street. “The loveliest part of the experience is that the hotel consists of three restored homes (and two carriage houses) facing a courtyard, so one has the feeling of living in an actual home,” said a reader. (The hotel’s buildings date to 1804.) Readers also praised the in-house cooking school, led by the property’s head chef, Vinson Petrillo, for classes that teach the art of making dishes such as scallop tartare, lemon ricotta tortellini, and steamed snapper.

A few blocks away, this year’s No. 9, Belmond Charleston Place, impressed readers with its “great service, superior dining, and central location” within walking distance of most of the city’s major attractions. The property’s relatively large size — it has 434 rooms and suites — means there’s a lot on offer for guests, including “a very luxurious pool and spa” with a treatment menu ranging from fitness boot camps and personal training to reflexology and hot-stone massages.

But this year’s winner impressed guests with its ornate design, outstanding views, and a terrific breakfast spread. Read on for the complete list of winners, including this year’s No. 1.

1. Wentworth Mansion

Credit: Courtesy of Wentworth Mansion

Score: 94.76

More information: wentworthmansion.com

Last year’s runner-up took the top spot this year thanks in part to “the best hotel breakfast in Charleston” and “the view from the cupola, which is unmatched anywhere else in town,” one reader said. Wentworth Mansion’s interior design is also a winner — the ornate residence dates from 1886 and has kept the spirit of its 19th-century history. The 21 rooms feature parquet floors, original Tiffany glass panels, and, in many instances, fireplaces. Fresh flowers throughout the property complete the genteel setting. One reader summed it up: “The hotel was amazing and beyond our expectations regarding both the level of service and its rooms.”

2. John Rutledge House Inn

Credit: Courtesy of John Rutledge House Inn

Score: 94.26

More information: johnrutledgehouseinn.com

3. The Vendue, Charleston's Art Hotel

Credit: Courtesy of The Vendue

Score: 92.78

More information: thevendue.com

4. Planters Inn

Credit: Courtesy of Planters Inn

Score: 92.34

More information: plantersinn.com

5. The Spectator Hotel

Credit: Courtesy of The Spectator Hotel

Score: 91.12

More information: thespectatorhotel.com

6. Zero George Street

Credit: Courtesy of Zero George

Score: 90.74

More information: zerogeorge.com

7. Andrew Pinckney Inn

Credit: Courtesy of Andrew Pinckney Inn, a Charlestowne Hotels property

Score: 90.27

More information: andrewpickneyinn.com

8. Hotel Bennett

Credit: Courtesy of Hotel Bennett

Score: 90.26

More information: hotelbennett.com

9. Belmond Charleston Place

Credit: Jason Varney/Courtesy of Belmond Charleston Place

Score: 89.39

More information: belmond.com

10. The Restoration

Credit: Andrew Cebulka/Courtesy of The Restoration

Score: 88.73

More information: therestorationhotel.com

11. The Dewberry Charleston

Credit: Kris Tamburello/Courtesy of The Dewberry

Score: 88.23

More information: thedewberrycharleston.com

12. French Quarter Inn

Credit: Courtesy of French Quarter Inn

Score: 88.13

More information: fqicharleston.com

13. Market Pavilion Hotel

Credit: Courtesy of Explore Charleston

Score: 87.14

More information: marketpavilion.com

14. Grand Bohemian Hotel

Credit: Courtesy of Grand Bohemian Hotel Charleston

Score: 85.67

More information: kesslercollection.com

15. HarbourView Inn

Credit: Courtesy of HarbourView Inn

Score: 83.43

More information: harbourviewcharleston.com

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2020.