The Best Hotels in the South in 2016

The Willcox
Photo: Courtesy of the Willcox

They have quite the reputation to live up to. Whether they’re oceanfront properties or horse-country mansions, resorts in th e American South might just be held to a higher standard of service and warmth, thanks to the old stereotype about the region’s hospitality. And they more than meet expectations. 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 lines, spas, airlines, and more. In the hotels category, readers rated properties on their rooms and facilities, location, service, food and drink, and overall value. Hotels were categorized as city or resort properties based on their locations. Readers applauded the service at the top resorts in the South. “Phenomenal staff,” wrote one respondent about the Lodge at Sea Island Golf Club, No. 3 on our list. “Every detail is intentional; very little is overlooked or missed.” Meanwhile, a past guest of the Inn at Harbour Town in Hilton Head, South Carolina, which ranked sixth, found the staff to be “consistently wonderful.” Another commented that “you knew they were there to make your stay memorable.” North and South Carolina were the big hits of the Southern parade, making up half of the list between them. Readers loved the sense of history at the Old Edwards Inn & Spa in Highlands, North Carolina—the property dates back to 1880, but a recent multi-million-dollar renovation means it has modern amenities, including a 25,000-square-foot spa. “I wish I was back there right now,” one reader wrote, “enjoying a soak in the tub with the fire going in our cottage.” Down in South Carolina, the Willcox, in Aiken, snagged the top spot. Especially beloved by the horse set, the property is used as a training ground for equestrians. Guests can take riding lessons, participate in a foxhunt, and attend nearby horse races and polo matches. All levels welcome, of course.

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No. 10: The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Steve Uzzell/Courtesy of Kiawah Island Golf Resort

Score: 92.85

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No. 9: Montage Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton, South Carolina

Montage Palmetto Bluff
Courtesy of Montage Palmetto Bluff

Score: 93.63

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No. 8: Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tennessee

Blackberry Farm
Courtesy of Blackberry Farm

Score: 93.86

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No. 7: The Inn at Willow Grove, Orange, Virginia

Inn at Willow Grace
Courtesy of the Inn at Willow Grace

Score: 94.35

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No. 6: The Inn at Harbour Town, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Courtesy of Inn at Harbour Town
Courtesy of the Inn at Harbour Town

Score: 94.95

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No. 5: The Cloister at Sea Island, Georgia

The Cloister at Sea Island
Courtesy of the Cloister at Sea Island

Score: 95.16

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No. 4: The Lodge and Cottages at Primland, Meadows of Dan, Virginia

Lodge and Cottages at Primland
Courtesy of Primland

Score: 95.87

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No. 3: Lodge at Sea Island, Georgia

Lodge at Sea Island
Courtesy of Lodge at Sea Island

Score: 95.90

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No. 2: Old Edwards Inn & Spa, Highlands, North Carolina

Old Edwards Inn & Spa
Courtesy of Old Edwards Inn and Spa

Score: 96.67

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No. 1: The Willcox, Aiken, South Carolina

The Willcox
Courtesy of the Willcox

Score: 97.25

When you fantasize about your ideal Southern hotel getaway, chances are it looks a lot like The Willcox, in South Carolina. Old oak trees shade the white-pillared, 22-room main house, which looks plucked straight out of Gone With the Wind. Guests sleep in four-poster beds and are warmed by fireplaces on cool evenings. Equestrian sports are a local specialty, which means guests can take part in steeplechase races and foxhunts. And for golfers, it’s only a 30-minute drive to Augusta National Golf Club, site of the Masters Tournament.

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