Romantic Stays in Charleston Merge City's Historic Character and Modern Ritz
By Celeste Hawkins
Charleston, a much beloved coastal South Carolina city, boasts an array of classy stays perfect for couples who are visiting with romance in mind. Every romantic hotel and inn finds its own unique way to meld the city’s rich historic past with its contemporary, forward-thinking present. Together, these accommodations cater to couples of every persuasion - those in dire need of an intimate, restful B&B and those anticipating a lively destination hotel.
Love birds in search of a relaxed romantic getaway may fancy Planters Inn, which is nevertheless in the middle of the downtown action, located right on Market Street. For others looking for a peaceful yet more removed setting, Zero George Street hits the spot. More options for staying in a residential, calmer neighborhood and enjoying a slower pace of life include Wentworth Mansion and the John Rutledge House Inn.
For pairs who wish never to leave the hotel during their romantic vacation, Belmond Charleston Place is a full-service hotel with countless amenities, including a spa. Market Pavilion and The Mills House also offer a pool, on-site restaurant and indoor/outdoor social area combination.
For pampering throughout the day, try a stay at French Quarter Inn or Harbourview Inn, the latter which offers a view of the water unparalleled by any other city hotel. Speaking of rare finds, The Vendue is Charleston’s only art hotel. This is a stay in heaven for the artsy types who could browse galleries or read in a coffee shop all day.
10 The Mills House
The Mills House is no dainty little hotel. If you judge by size alone, you're sure to think it's a rowdy stay. But this 19th-century hotel is suitable for romance-seekers in search of an all-in-one Charleston stay. The building is hard to miss: it's a Charleston pink with mill house details all around. Inside, you'll notice that coastal colors abound, too, as do antiques and old-timey touches. Take, for example, the non-digital floor indicators outside the elevators. Amenities include an outdoor rooftop pool, snazzy lobby and the Barbados Room that serves all three meals and offers indoor and outdoor dining options. The courtyard out front is centered by a fountain from New Orleans, and the archways light up at night. As one of the taller hotels in downtown Charleston, The Mills House is sure to provide a far-reaching and very colorful view of the city, whichever room you select.
9 Market Pavilion Hotel
You know it's a classy hotel when you walk in through golden rotating doors past a dignified bellman with a top hat. But that's just the beginning of the intricate details at Market Pavilion Hotel. Rather than a lobby as the hotel's focal point, it's the restaurant with its custom-made booths, jazz music, great steaks and carpeted walls. Original art is everywhere here, and no two pieces are the same. What's more, all of the woodwork, too, is hand-painted by local artists. Each room has a genuine doorbell out front, a rare find in the modern era. On weekends, the rooftop lounge has a DJ and dancing. But guests can jump into the pool at any hour. Watch sunset over downtown, catch a view of the nearby bridge and peer across the street to the custom house.
8 John Rutledge House Inn
Like the feel of a historic bed and breakfast? The John Rutledge House comes through on every front. Spacious rooms? Check. Hospitality? Check. Great breakfast? Check. Period décor? Check. Oh, and a little romance? Check. FYI: The John Rutledge House is the only home of a signer of the Constitution of the United States that now serves as a living historic landmark and as a bed and breakfast. You'll sense the historic significance when you set eyes on the house, with its ornate blue-green gates and details. Once you set foot into the main house, you'll find 12-foot-high ceilings, spacious bedrooms, original wood flooring and Italian marble gas fireplaces. Afternoon tea is served from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., and it includes appetizers from Circa 1886. Wish for more romantic dining at this nearby restaurant? Then get the romance package for a rickshaw ride over to dinner, in-room massages and a treat of champagne and strawberries.
7 The Vendue
You couldn't imagine a more artistic stay in Charleston than The Vendue. Guests would hardly ever guess this hotel is composed of a renovated set of warehouses that were built in the late 1700s. Today, every room exudes modern and progressive style, while artwork covers every wall, nook and cranny. The main lobby, to be sure, is an art gallery curated by local Charleston artists. Every piece throughout the hotel is for sale, so take a memory of your romantic getaway with you to keep. Several spaces throughout the hotel serve as gathering spaces for on-site fun and food, such as The Press coffee shop, The Rooftop bar and The Drawing Room restaurant with farm-to-table cuisine and live entertainment on weekends.
6 Wentworth Mansion
At Wentworth Mansion, old-timey style is the norm. Located in a quiet residential neighborhood in downtown Charleston, this stay is certainly a romantic retreat that lets you step back in time. At check-in, a distinctive of Wentworth is that you'll be greeted with benne wafers, a South Carolina tradition. What else sets this place apart? Each room offers a gas fireplace and king-sized bed, while the entire mansion boasts crown molding, high ceilings and more Victorian-era details indicative of the mansion's founding in 1886. A full-service Southern breakfast awaits guests each morning, while there's wine and hors d'oeuvres served each evening. Plus, on-site dining includes Circa 1886, an award-winning restaurant and romantic destination in its own right. For added romance, consider the romance package, which includes roses, champagne turndown service and dinner at Circa.
5 Harbourview Inn
The name says it all at Harbourview, as this historic district hotel offers the best view of the harbor. Located mere steps away from Waterfront Park, the hotel is composed of a main building and what used to be an indigo warehouse, where exposed brick still peeps through. A sister property to the French Quarter Inn, this hotel features many of the same amenities included in your stay, such as a daily wine and cheese reception, breakfast and fresh cookies and milk at night. Each room includes a Tempurpedic mattress and teal, white and beige colors to aid your seaside relaxation. Due to its location, Harbourview is next to a water taxi, and the trolley comes every 15 minutes. The romance package here features a private carriage ride, rose petal turndown, Maverick Southern Kitchens gift card and late checkout.
4 French Quarter Inn
The 50-room boutique French Quarter Inn, much inspired by a Parisian chateau, finds reason to celebrate every time of day. No hidden fees here, as all guests are treated to champagne at their arrival, a nightly wine and cheese reception, a library of DVDs as well as a movie munchies menu for rainy days and then fresh baked cookies and milk before bedtime. Need some extra romance? Get a private in-room massage or try yoga for couples at sunrise or sunset. Have breakfast in bed by getting it delivered to your room. Enjoy a rose petal turndown with chocolate-covered strawberries and wine. Or simply walk out onto your Juliet balcony for a little sunshine and city watching.
3 Belmond Charleston Place
For a one-stop shop in Charleston's hotel scene, stay at Charleston Place. This is the only full-service hotel in the downtown area, with a combination of multiple on-site dining and shopping options, a saltwater pool, Jacuzzi, sun deck and spa. For all-day access to food and cocktails, pay extra for the exclusive Club Level. The newly designed guest rooms feature muted grays and golden details, and the architecture everywhere merges old Charleston and modern touches. It seems they've thought of every detail, with spacious walk-in showers, snacks and drinks available in the fridge and even the ease of controlling all the lights via switches on either side of the bed. For a romantic photo opp, be sure to pose in front of the Georgian Open Arm staircase in the lobby, right beneath the hotel's signature 12-foot crystal chandelier.
2 Zero George Hotel
Zero George Street is a collection of five restored historic residential buildings set in a private landscaped courtyard just outside the city center, making this a fairly quiet and secluded stay in an elegant setting. No wonder most of the other guests you'll see here are couples, too. The continental breakfast included with your stay is filled with homemade jams, pastries, fresh fruit and other healthful yet tasty options. They're always cooking up something in the kitchen carriage house, in fact, and you can, too. Just join in on one of their on-site cooking classes. Have them arrange a sunset sail for you, and they'll send you off with a picnic basket and wine. A daily cocktail hour is held on premises, too. And if you wish to just relax on-site, then consider visiting the quiet drawing room or lantern-lined porches.
1 Planters Inn
Planters Inn is the quietest space available in the center of downtown Charleston. Built in 1884, this home-turned-inn features a mere 64 rooms, each with exquisite handmade rice beds, soundproof walls, wool rugs and Baker Historic Charleston furniture. When you arrive to your room, you'll hear soothing classical music playing and find a bottle of champagne or wine to greet you. But if the quiet atmosphere isn't romantic enough, consider their romantic package, which includes dinner for two at on-site fine dining restaurant Peninsula Grill; a premium penthouse suite with an oversized tub and private terrace; and a two-hour private carriage ride for you and your significant other.
About Celeste Hawkins
Celeste lives in the Greenville area, where it snows one day and reaches 70-something the next. But when she travels, it's usually with her husband to music venues up the road, big cities a few hours away or Spanish-speaking countries across the globe. When she's not editing for 10Best, she's probably scheming up another website, blogging about her adventures and optimistic thoughts or taking pictures just for fun. Freelance writing opportunities are welcome. See Celeste's website for more information.
Read more about Celeste Hawkins here.