The Top Hotels in Charleston

From Gilded Age mansions to modern loft spaces, there are plenty of places to experience Southern hospitality in Charleston. Whether you prefer an intimate setting or a full-service hotel, these properties offer warm welcomes and top-notch service.

Highlights
205 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401, USA
Occupying a full block in the heart of downtown, Belmond Charleston Place is the largest luxury hotel in the city and has all the perks a seasoned traveler might require, from a saltwater pool with retractable glass roof to old-school shoe shine services. The Market Street entrance leads right to the grand lobby, with its imperial open-arm staircase, 12-foot crystal chandelier, and Italian marble floors. The old-fashioned Southern elegance is echoed in the guest rooms, done up in mahogany and damask.

The property’s ground floor is the closest thing downtown Charleston has to a mall, hosting some 26 stores and boutiques including Kate Spade and Louis Vuitton. It’s a great home base for exploring the city, with additional entrances on Meeting and King streets. And don’t forget to scope out the gorgeous Art Deco Riviera Theater across King Street—a 1930s movie palace turned event space.
Hotels
225 E Bay St, Charleston, SC 29401, USA
Charleston’s four-block City Market is a historic landmark (one of the oldest in the country, rivaled only by Baltimore’s Lexington Market) and an essential stop for locally made souvenirs and snacks. Pack up your sweetgrass basket (a traditional Gullah handicraft) and check in for the night across the street at the Market Pavilion Hotel. The hotel has all the plush trappings—Italian marble bathrooms, Hermes toiletries, treats at turndown—one could ask for in the French Quarter, topped off by a rooftop bar and pool with enviable views of the harbor and bustling East Bay street. On a particularly hot Southern night, you might cool off with a nitrogen-infused cocktail before sitting down to a steak dinner at Grill 225, which serves only aged, USDA-Prime meat. The hotel is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World and the restaurant is one of a dozen Great Steakhouses of North America.
78 Queen St, Charleston, SC 29401, USA
The salmon-colored stucco buildings comprising the Elliott House Inn have a long history that runs parallel with the city’s. Built in the aftermath of a citywide fire, the property’s main structure was then shaken in an 1886 earthquake (the characteristic Charleston earthquake bolts are visible on the building’s facade) and battered by 1989’s Hurricane Hugo. The bed-and-breakfast reopened in 2011 after two years of renovation and redecoration, reinventing itself yet again. The main building is a classic Charleston single house, built with its narrow end on the street and a long piazza running along its length.

The rooms, with their botanical prints, hardwood floors, and Oriental rugs, are traditional in a way that’s elegant and charming rather than fussy. Rooms are available both in the main house and the single-story building across. The quiet courtyard provides an oasis from the city streets with its wisteria-dotted pergola and light-draped palmetto trees.
3125, 166 Church St, Charleston, SC 29401, USA
Charleston’s French Quarter didn’t earn its title until the 1970s, when a group of preservationists started touting the area’s historic concentration of French Huguenots to protect buildings in danger of demolition. Opened in 2002, the French Quarter Inn took its neighborhood’s name and used it as inspiration for the hotel’s opulent decor and signature services. Guests arrive to an atrium with an elaborate wrought-iron staircase that rises in a spiral from the ground level and is topped with a large skylight. Champagne awaits guests upon check-in, and the rooms are decorated in vibrant shades of red, gold, and black, with toile bedspreads and damask upholstered furniture.

While it may not have the historic character of many Charleston properties, the French Quarter Inn provides all the amenities travelers could require: a continental breakfast each morning, bike rentals for cruising around town, and nightly wine-and-cheese receptions.
116 Broad St. Charleston, South Carolina
John Rutledge was an active player in early American politics, signing the Constitution and serving as South Carolina’s first governor. But his townhouse on Broad Street, now the John Rutledge Inn, was built before he even attended his first Continental Congress. The house was embellished and expanded over the years, including the addition of elaborate lacelike ironwork that still stops passersby in their tracks. The inn comprises the main building and two carriage houses. In the 1980s, a major renovation prepared it for its new life as an inn, restoring the parquet floors, marble fireplaces, and crown molding to fully honor the property’s past.

Rooms in the main house evoke the property’s Colonial Era origins, with canopy beds and brass fireplace screens. All rooms have Tempur-Pedic mattresses, property-wide Wi-Fi, and flat-screen TVs help guests remember that they’re still in the 21st century. Around the property, visit the sumptuous ballroom for evening sherry, or stroll the lush, secluded courtyard.
Hotels
75 Wentworth St, Charleston, SC 29401, USA
After a multi-phase expansion completed in 2016, the former Restoration on King dropped “the King” from its name and gained a new restaurant, spa, coffee shop, and several dozen more suites. The sleek and modern rooms at the boutique Restoration are spread over five historic buildings at King and Wentworth, linked by a courtyard with its own wishing fountain. Exposed brick, high ceilings, and dark wood add to the suites’ loft feel, and amenities such as kitchenettes and breakfast baskets delivered to your room from the on-site Rise Coffee Bar beg a longer stay. Seasonal “happenings” at the property include yoga classes, movie nights, and fashion pop-ups at the Port Mercantile retail store. The Amethyst Spa and Nail Bar uses charged gemstones and essential oils in their massages and treatments, and the jewel-box rooftop pool provides refreshment on a hot day and has panoramic views. After a swim, the Watch Rooftop Kitchen and Spirits serves farm-to-table Lowcountry dishes and cocktails inspired by the city, such as the seasonal, bright tequila-and-watermelon-infused Charleston Brick. The Restoration understands the need for speed and style, and offers to hook up guests with vintage car rentals or even help serious riders design and commission their own custom-built motorcycle (a favorite subject of the hotel’s artist-in-residence, photographer Gately Williams) to pick up on a return trip to Charleston.
19 Vendue Range, Charleston, SC 29401, USA
Reopened and rebranded in 2014, the Vendue (formerly known as the Vendue Inn) is all about the arts. With on-site docents ready to guide you around the property’s exhibition spaces, an artist-in-residence whose studio is open to visitors, and pieces from local galleries available for sale in your guestroom, creative forces are at work everywhere you look. The Vendue’s mission is to serve as a hub for the local art scene. The hotel’s opening exhibit drew from local galleries to feature everything from classical realist paintings to a postmodern installation made of View-Masters and Plexiglas.

The Vendue is set in a suite of former warehouses in the city’s French Quarter. Guestrooms are in two different buildings, 19 and 26 Vendue Range, and the design can vary widely from space to space; some rooms have a more contemporary atmosphere, with exposed brick walls and subway-tiled walk-in showers, while others are decked out in Queen Anne–style furniture and brocaded fabrics.
149 Wentworth St, Charleston, SC 29401, USA
This Gilded Age residence, built for a cotton merchant and his bride in the 1880s, was renovated and opened as a hotel in 1998 after stints as a masonic meeting place and an insurance office. It’s a testament to some serious preservation and restoration that stepping onto the property feels akin to stepping back in time. Intricate wood paneling, Tiffany-style stained glass, and period furniture that might feel stuffy in another building feel perfectly proportioned and at home in the Wentworth Mansion’s large, airy rooms. And all but two of the rooms have their own gas fireplaces.

Modern conveniences for guests include wireless access throughout the property, oversized whirlpool bathtubs, and free on-site parking. Visit Harleston Parlor for wine in the afternoon and sherry in the evening, or settle down in a cozy wicker chair in the sunroom. And feel free to bring the family dog along, as the hotel welcomes pets in most of its rooms.
0 George St, Charleston, SC 29401, USA
Zero George consists of five structures: the main building fronting George Street, built in the early 1800s as two separate structures; two additional examples of the “Charleston single house,” a long and narrow building with an open-air porch along its length; and one carriage house. Formerly a French-style inn, Zero George was purchased, renovated, and reopened under a new name by a local hotels veteran in early 2013. Its architecture is pure Charleston, and the garden courtyard at the heart of the property, with its palmettos and hand-laid brick walkways, is a welcome oasis. Rooms are bright and airy, with elegant period-style furniture decked out in neutral fabrics and patterns.

Food is a way of life in the Carolina Lowcountry, but in the past five years Charleston’s culinary scene has exploded with new producers and restaurateurs focusing on local ingredients prepared in dynamic ways. Zero George fits right in with the new food trends. It’s a property that uses its classically Charleston setting as a site for intimate cooking classes and Southern-infused craft cocktails.
Hotels
67 State St, Charleston, SC 29401, USA
Why we love it: A Historic District hotel where 1920s glamour meets Southern hospitality

The Highlights:
- Personal butler service
- Complimentary amenities, including a daily artisanal breakfast
- An acclaimed craft cocktail program at The Bar

The Review:
Located in Charleston’s bustling Historic District, The Spectator Hotel blends Jazz Age luxury with Southern charm. Local interior designer Jenny Keenan spearheaded the property’s Art Deco-inspired aesthetic, which features thoughtful details throughout, from hand-painted wallpaper to the lobby’s focal point—a three-tiered chandelier that sparkles with 1,800 hand-strung glass crystals.

The four-story hotel houses more than 40 rooms, all of which boast locally designed bedding and products from Deep Steep, a vegan and cruelty-free line of bathroom amenities. Should any needs arise, sit back and relax—personal butlers are at the beck and call of every guest and will take care of anything from drawing a bath to making dinner reservations. For the latter, consider staying on site at The Bar, a Prohibition-inspired spot with creative cocktails and an array of flavor-forward bites (caramelized onion tarts, deviled hen eggs, gorgonzola-mascarpone cheesecake). When morning rolls around, it’s best to stay in bed—a locally sourced in-room breakfast is provided with each night’s stay.
334 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29403, USA
Why we love it: A historic building turned stylish hotel with a buzzy restaurant and lavish spa

The Highlights:
- Chic decor that mixes historic preservation with contemporary style
- A rooftop cocktail bar with citrus-inspired drinks
- Amenities like an on-site boutique, open-air yoga, and house car service

The Review:
Much has been written about Charleston’s antebellum charms, but modernists seeking respite need look no further than The Dewberry, a 1960s federal building on Marion Square that’s now one of the city’s coolest hotels. Here, a wood-paneled lobby gives way to a cozy living room straight out of Mad Men, complete with mid-century furnishings, antiqued mirrors, live music, and a brass bar serving up deviled eggs and classic cocktails. Up a flight of stairs, the second-floor spa features tufted-velvet recliners and treatments that incorporate Lowcountry flora, plus a full-service fitness center and open-air yoga classes on the hotel rooftop.

The 155 light-filled guest rooms are equally stylish, with luxurious Irish linens, marble baths, and armoires clad in custom-printed linen by local illustrator Becca Barnet. Barnet’s work is also on display in the by-reservation-only Citrus Club, a rooftop lounge with craft cocktails and light bites overlooking the Holy City’s famed steeples. For a heartier meal, guests can head to on-site restaurant Henrietta’s, where traditional French brasserie fare meets local ingredients. Rounding things out are unique amenities like house car service in luxury Volvos, complimentary Papillionaire bicycles, and a boutique curated by Garden & Gun, with fashion, barware, jewelry, and more from Southern artisans and craftsmen.
AFAR Journeys
More From AFAR