By Lila Battis
July 10, 2019
Courtesy of The Spectator Hotel

As any native Southerner will tell you, the dreamy, soft-focus version of the region shown in photographs — all Spanish moss and stately mansions and gravity-defying biscuits at every meal — doesn’t often match up with reality.

Except, that is, in Charleston, which is exactly as charming as photos imply. From the candy-colored houses of Rainbow Row to the jewel-box shops of King Street, this little city is full of treasures to discover. As a perennial traveler favorite — T+L readers voted it No. 1 in the U.S. and No. 3 in the world this year — it’s got a roster of high-end hotels so stacked it’s hard to go wrong.

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.

RelatedThe World's Best Awards 2019

This year sees two newcomers make the list: travelers loved the Restoration (No. 6) for its marriage of classic Charleston charm and modern elegance, while No. 9 Belmond Charleston Place had readers raving about its warm, welcoming staff and prime location and the over-the-top service and amenities of the hotel’s Club Floor.

There are also a slew of familiar names. Wentworth Mansion, last year’s No. 6 pick, climbed the ranks this year. The 21-room property landed second place, proving that some old-fashioned details — crystal chandeliers, marble fireplaces, intricate molding — never go out of style. That’s not to say our readers shy away from a more contemporary look: The Dewberry (No. 8) and the Vendue (No. 4) have both landed on our list once again: despite their radically different looks, the two share a stylish, arty vibe, in-demand bars, and some of the most enviable rooftop setups in town.

Read on for the full list of winners.

10. French Quarter Inn

Courtesy of French Quarter Inn

Score: 88.07

More information: fqicharleston.com

9. Belmond Charleston Place

Courtesy of Belmond Charleston Place

Score: 88.61

More information: belmond.com

8. The Dewberry

Courtesy of The Dewberry

Score: 89.86

More information: thedewberrycharleston.com

7. Planters Inn

Courtesy of Planters Inn

Score: 89.88

More information: plantersinn.com

6. The Restoration

Courtesy of The Restoration

Score: 91.69

More information: therestorationhotel.com

5. John Rutledge House Inn

Courtesy of John Rutledge House Inn

Score: 93.13

More information: johnrutledgehouseinn.com

4. The Vendue, Charleston’s Art Hotel

Courtesy of The Vendue, Charleston's Art Hotel

Score: 93.15

More information: thevendue.com

3. Zero George Street Hotel

Courtesy of Zero George

Score: 93.16

More information: zerogeorge.com

2. Wentworth Mansion

Courtesy of Wentworth Mansion

Score: 93.26

More information: wentworthmansion.com

1. The Spectator Hotel

Courtesy of The Spectator Hotel

Score: 95.29

More information: thespectatorhotel.com

For the second year in a row, the Spectator has been our readers’ top-choice Charleston hotel. Travel + Leisure readers praised the hotel’s “incredible service,” “perfect location,” and the so-comfortable-you-never-want-to-leave furnishings of the rooms, not to mention the fantastic food and stylish library bar. Just a block away from City Market, the hotel is right in the center of the action, yet butler service (which one reader described as “outrageous — it sets a new standard”) and well-appointed rooms ensure a stay at the Spectator feels like a true escape. In the words of one reader, it’s the “single best hotel experience you’ll ever have in your life.”

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2019.

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