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
Market Pavilion Hotel, located on the corner of East Bay and South Market streets, claims to uphold the "Art of Southern Hospitality" as its standard of service. This AAA Four Diamond hotel is known for its regal fa--ade, smiling doormen, and a la carte breakfasts brought to each floor. The Market Pavilion's white glove restaurant, Grill 225, serves up the "Truth In Beef," and its rooftop Pavilion Bar pours their famous Nitrotini with panoramic harbor views. Prices are on the high end, but retain great value for the many luxuries included. Parks, shopping and fine dining are also just steps outside of Market Pavilion's classic gold revolving front doors. Expert Tip: Calling all cocktail enthusiasts! Try the Nitrotini at Grill 225, cooled to -320 degrees with liquid Nitrogen!
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
Originally built as a grand private residence in the late 1880's, Wentworth Mansion is Charleston's only AAA Five Diamond Property. Located on Wentworth Street, tucked away in the Harleston Village neighborhood, Wentworth Mansion pampers its guests with large rooms and suites, champagne and hor'dourves on arrival, and even complimentary port, sherry, and brandy in the evenings. Breakfast is served in the carriage house restaurant, Circa 1886, a AAA Four Diamond and Forbes Four Star restaurant serving a seasonal menu with emphasis on traditional Southern recipes. Off street parking is readily available in this residential area, and pets are welcomed to guests opting for Garden Suites. Expert Tip: Loyal guests to Wentworth Mansion return year after year for the relaxed, noise-free evenings the residential area ensures. Most attractions are within a 10 - 15 minute's walk.
5 Harbourview Inn
One of Charleston Historic District's newest luxury properties, Harbourview Inn claims impressive views of the Charleston Harbor. Staying just steps away from Broad Street, and across the street from family-friendly Waterfront Park, you are within walking distance to all of Charleston's famous sights and sounds. This AAA Four Diamond property was recently named to Conde Nast's Gold List of luxury hotels, and maintains a reputation of friendly and knowledgeable service. Complimentary breakfast is served to your room, and balcony rooms are are available upon request. With four poster beds and custom artwork in each room, the Harbourview Hotel provides creates a boutique feel among Charleston's antebellum streets and buildings. Expert Tip: Grab picnic supplies at Bull Street Gourmet & Market a few blocks away to enjoy at nearby Waterfront or Battery parks!
4 French Quarter Inn
The French Quarter Inn enjoys a widespread reputation for luxury lodging through its expert service and unique amenities. Located on Church Street, one block from the Historic Old City Market, the French Quarter delights its guests with coffee and tea on each floor, wine and cheese each afternoon, and cookies and milk each evening. Champagne and ladyfingers arrive at your door minutes after you check in, welcoming you to Charleston with a warm touch of Southern hospitality. Tristan, the Inn's AAA Four Diamond restaurant, is Charleston's most modern dining setting. Expert Tip: Splurge for a balcony room for great views of the lower peninsula!
3 Belmond Charleston Place
The Charleston Place Hotel, an exemplary Belmond luxury property and AAA Four Diamond hotel, maintains true Charleston elegance through exceptional service and elegant accommodations. Award winning restaurants Palmetto Cafe and Charleston Grill, and bar Thoroughbred Club, with its nightly live jazz, are popular with locals and travelers alike. From the moment you enter Charleston Place, the lobby's beautiful marble floors and sweeping double staircase welcome you to some of the finest rooms and suites in Charleston. Shopping in both lobby level wings include such deluxe boutiques as Gucci, St. John, Louis Vuitton, White House Black Market and Tommy Bahama. Other amenities include indoor-outdoor pool, fitness center and state of the art spa. Expert Tip: Request a Club Level Suite, on the top two floors, and take advantage of private concierge service, continental breakfast, evening cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, and more!
2 Zero George Street
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
You'll be hard-pressed to find a more convenient location in Charleston's historic district than this refined Relais & Chateau property that occupies a restored cotton warehouse on the corner of Market and Meeting streets. Ten-foot ceilings, period reproductions -- including four-poster rice beds -- and soft colors outfit the 64 rooms and suites with old-world elegance, creating an ambience akin to any nearby South of Broad Street antebellum home. Choose among rooms in the inn, or accommodations that open onto the enchanting palmetto tree-shaded courtyard. Italian bedding, travertine marble bathrooms and John James Audubon prints add to the luxurious touches in all the rooms. Ask the concierge to help plan your visit, and feel free to use the on-site business center. Coffee and other beverages are available daily in the elegant front parlor beginning in the early morning, while turndown service comes with a house-baked surprise. Complimentary WIFI access is the icing on the cake at this all-luxury downtown property. Expert tip: A stay at Planters Inn is most certainly not complete without at least a bite of the Coconut Cake from Peninsula Grill, the inn's in-house restaurant.
About Celeste Hawkins
Celeste lives among the Carolinas, 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. When she's not editing for 10Best, she's probably writing news stories for the local paper, scheming for another website or blogging about her travels and sunny thoughts. She hopes to explore and write for many days to come. Freelance writing opportunities are welcome. See Celeste's online portfolio for more information, or contact her directly at MsCelesteHawkins [at] gmail [dot] com.
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