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20 Best Hotels in Charleston

Written by Carri Wilbanks and Lavanya Sunkara
Apr 18, 2019

Hotels in Charleston are main attractions in themselves, with charm and historic appeal blended with luxurious and modern amenities. Most of the hotels are sprinkled around several neighborhoods in the entire peninsula that makes up downtown Charleston. Five-star hotels, historic boutique properties, and charming bed & breakfasts are located in the Historic District near the Old City Market and Dock Street Theatre; the French Quarter; and South of Broad, home of the famous Rainbow Row of 18th-century, Georgian-style homes.

This antebellum city boasts centuries-old buildings that have been turned into fancy hotels reflecting the bygone era, with original furnishings in elegant rooms, and lush courtyards. There are gorgeous waterfront properties along the Charleston Waterfront Park, with convenient access to Fort Sumter. Family-friendly and cheap hotels are a short drive from downtown in North Charleston near the airport.

If you are looking for beachfront hotels, Folly Beach is on a barrier island just nine miles south of downtown with a few great hotels. There is also the barrier island, Isle of Palms, near Charleston, which hosts a luxury resort. Another popular oceanfront vacation spot is Kiawah Island, about 25 miles south of downtown.

Tip: To score hotel deals at the beach resorts try visiting during the swing season in late spring and early fall, when many properties run vacation packages.

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Best Luxury Hotels in Charleston

1. French Quarter Inn

Photo Source: French Quarter Inn

Part of historic downtown, the French Quarter Inn is named for the area of town where it stands. The inn is known for its excellent service and is a popular romantic choice for couples. The elegant rooms feature elaborate black headboards backing crisp white cotton linens and period furnishings. If you want a private balcony, you'll need to book one of the suites, some of which also have fireplaces.

The inn operates as a bed and breakfast and offers a lovely European continental breakfast each morning, which is best eaten in the lovely outdoor courtyard with its greenery and working fountain.

Accommodation: French Quarter Inn

2. The Spectator Hotel

Photo Source: The Spectator Hotel

This luxury boutique property is one of the best in downtown Charleston and is known for its outstanding service. Guests are assisted by classically trained butlers who provide individualized, top-tier service.

The rooms and suites are done up in 1920s grand style with contemporary touches. We love the beds with locally made mattresses topped with silky soft linens. On-site amenities include a complimentary continental breakfast delivered to your room each morning.

Accommodation: The Spectator Hotel

3. Wentworth Mansion

Photo Source: Wentworth Mansion

This former private residence of a wealthy cotton merchant named Francis Silas Rodgers has become one of Charleston's finest inns. The 21-room property built in 1886 personifies splendor with Italian crystal chandeliers, Tiffany stained-glass windows, hand-carved marble fireplaces, oversized bathtubs, mahogany armoires, and luxurious amenities.

The Wentworth Mansion is a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2003 and is located in the Historic District within walking distance to the South Carolina aquarium, art museum, and specialty shops. After a day of exploring, guests can sit back and relax on the outside porch sipping tea and enjoying the neighborhood.

Accommodation:Wentworth Mansion

4. John Rutledge House Inn

Photo Source: John Rutledge House Inn

This historic Charleston inn has quite the backstory. It dates back to 1763 when John Rutledge, who was one of the original 55 signers of the U.S. Constitution, built it. Today, it has been meticulously restored as a bed and breakfast and reflects its early American history throughout—we love the Italian marble fireplaces and original plaster moldings.

There are just 19 rooms and suites in three buildings: the original residence and two carriage houses. All have a romantic, historic vibe with period furnishings that are either antiques or perfect replicas. The included morning breakfast is also delicious.

Accommodation: John Rutledge House Inn

5. Harbourview Inn

Photo Source: Harbourview Inn

On the waterfront portion of Charleston's historic district, the Harbouview Inn is another charming option. There are just 52 rooms at this boutique property set inside a converted old cotton warehouse. You can choose from rooms done up in historic styling, with original brick walls, wood furnishings, and soaking tubs, or traditional rooms that come with four-poster beds and other period designs.

Rates here are for bed and breakfast, and you can have it served in your room. They also have a lovely rooftop terrace with views across Charleston should you rather dine up there. Other fun perks of staying at this historic property are the milk and cookie service and a complimentary afternoon cheese and snack reception.

Accommodation: Harbourview Inn

6. Belmond Charleston Place

Photo Source: Belmond Charleston Place

If you're traveling with a dog, check out the Belmond Charleston Place. This pet-friendly hotel in the Charleston Historic District is an elegant 5-star affair with lots of Southern charm.

The classy and spacious rooms and suites feature elegant decor and a calming color scheme. Beds are comfortable, and the sheets are top quality. The marble bathrooms feature luxe L'Occitane toiletries.

Book the club level for complimentary afternoon tea service, nightly hors d'oeuvres and a hot breakfast in its lounge. The Belmond also features a saltwater swimming pool on a rooftop deck, a few restaurants, a luxe spa, and boutique shops on-site.

Accommodation: Belmond Charleston Place

7. Zero George Street

Photo Source: Zero George Street

Bringing European charm to the streets of Charleston, Zero George Street sits elegantly in restored 1804 historic townhouses and carriage houses, surrounded by lush courtyards, in the Ansonborough neighborhood. Featuring modern amenities and 16 guest rooms and suites with soothing white furniture and open-air furnished verandas, the boutique hotel adds more charm to your already charming getaway in Charleston.

Guests can easily walk to the East Bay Street restaurants and shops, or use the complimentary bikes to visit the aquarium and Gaillard Arts Center, or enjoy a nice relaxing stay before boarding a cruise ship at the nearby terminal. The property offers an on-site cooking school, so you can learn the secrets of Lowcountry dishes. Make sure to enjoy a meal at the acclaimed Zero Restaurant.

Accommodation: Zero George Street

8. The Dewberry Charleston

Photo Source: The Dewberry Charleston

Opened in 2016, the Dewberry Charleston is set in the mid-century Mendel Rivers Federal Building overlooking the beautiful green space of Marion Square. The 155-room property takes you back to the 1960s, with vintage Danish pieces in the lobby and Irish linens in the bedroom, hand-painted wallpaper, and marble bathrooms.

The rooms come with 24-hour in room dining, complimentary Wi-Fi, HDTV, plush terry bathrobes, and signature Dewberry amenities. The hotel restaurant, Henrietta's, is a French brasserie that blends Parisian and Southern cuisines.

Accommodation: The Dewberry Charleston

9. Planters Inn

Photo Source: Planters Inn

The Planters Inn lives up to its reputation as one of Charleston's best small hotels. It is South Carolina's only member of the Relais & Châteaux exclusive collection of renowned boutique hotels. With high ceilings, silk window dressings, fireplaces, and four-poster beds in every room, the Inn oozes romance.

Conveniently located in the heart of the Historic District, the Planters Inn is best for couples enjoying a romantic getaway, especially its hidden garden courtyard illuminated by carriage lanterns. The garden leads to the on-site Peninsula Grill, known for its 12-layer Ultimate Coconut Cake. Amenities include refreshments in the parlor, macaroons delivered with turndown, Gilchrist & Soames spa bath products, the Pivotal Fitness Club, and Wi-Fi.

Accommodation:Planters Inn

10. 21 East Battery Bed & Breakfast

Photo Source: 21 East Battery Bed & Breakfast

Consisting of two buildings, the former Carriage House and the servant quarters of the original estate built in 1825, the 21 East Battery Bed & Breakfast provides luxurious comfort in a unique setting. Guests receive complimentary off-street parking, a kitchenette, and a tour of the Edmondston-Alston museum within the compound.

The Edmondston-Alston house was built in 1825 by Scottish shipping merchant Charles Edmondston and was purchased by Charles Alston, a member of the Lowcountry rice-planting dynasty, who updated the property in Greek Revival style. It was one of the first dwellings to be constructed along the Battery facing the harbor.

Accommodation: 21 East Battery Bed & Breakfast

11. The Vendue Charleston's Art Hotel

Photo Source: The Vendue Charleston's Art Hotel

The Vendue is a sleek 84-room art hotel comprised of reclaimed 18th-century red-brick warehouses. Art lovers can enjoy the main building's modern art gallery, which features two to three rotating exhibits a year. This historic downtown Charleston hotel also has a fine-dining restaurant and a panoramic rooftop lounge that is known as one of the best in town.

Located in the city's historic French Quarter, the property is ideally situated close to world-renowned galleries and boutiques. Some of the hotel's offerings include an artisanal continental breakfast, bicycles for exploring, and cookies and milk in the evenings.

Accommodation: The Vendue Charleston's Art Hotel

12. The Restoration

Photo Source: The Restoration

Located in the heart of downtown on King Street, the newly opened The Restoration welcomes guests to fully experience the Southern hospitality and community that makes this town so lovable. The upscale property has 54 suites, a rooftop restaurant, and provides an immersive experience in a beautifully designed environment. When you are not busy walking the cobblestone streets, take some time to enjoy the hotel's spa and the farm-to-table restaurant. There is also an on-site nail bar and vintage car rentals.

Feel free to take a 1966 Ford Mustang Convertible, a 1967 Chevy Camaro, or a rare 1970 280SL out for a spin. Their exclusive Wellness Retreat Package deal includes a two-night stay with a breakfast basket, complimentary bike rentals, and a signature 50-minute massage for two.

Accommodation:The Restoration

Best Beachfront Hotels & Resorts in Charleston

1. The Sanctuary Hotel at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

Photo Source: The Sanctuary Hotel at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

On beautiful Kiawah Island, just 25 miles south of downtown Charleston, this award-winning golf resort has a long tradition of hosting championship events on its five distinct courses. These have been designed by pro golfers Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Clyde Johnston, Pete Dye, and Tom Fazio and make use of the local topography to create different challenges on each course.

If golf isn't your game, no worries, this eco-friendly 5-star resort is set right on the ocean and has 10 miles of gorgeous shoreline to explore. The rooms and suites are elegant luxe, with Italian linens draped over comfortable beds and balconies looking out to the sea or the dunes. There is also a fantastic spa, two tennis courts, and multiple restaurants on-site.

Accommodation: The Sanctuary Hotel at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

2. Wild Dunes Resort

Photo Source: Wild Dunes Resort

Located on the Isle of Palms, which is another barrier island just off the Charleston coast, Wild Dunes Resort consists of two hotels, private condos, and beach houses to rent, all set on the same grounds with shared amenities.

The Boardwalk Inn is one of the two hotels on the grounds and sits just off the beach. Rooms and suites are clean, comfortable, and on the large side, and there is also a restaurant on-site and an adults-only swimming pool, which makes the inn popular with couples.

The second property is the Village at Wild Dunes, with multi-bedroom suites that are popular with families. It also sits at the center of the resort, so multiple restaurants, the resort spa, and a large swimming pool are also located just minutes away. More central amenities at Wild Dunes include eight restaurants and two Tom Fazio-designed 18-hole golf courses.

Accommodation: Wild Dunes Resort

3. Andell Inn

Photo Source: Andell Inn

Also on Kiawah Island, about a 30- to 45-minute drive south of Charleston's historic downtown, is the stylish and contemporary Andell Inn. This boutique property overlooks the Kiawah River and is located within Freshfields Village, which is a shopping, restaurant, and overall social hub for Kiawah and surrounding islands.

Choose from studio, one-, or two-bedroom suites that offer full kitchens and oversized living spaces. Flatscreen TVs and free Wi-Fi are also standard. Away from the rooms, you'll discover a heated saltwater swimming pool, an on-site restaurant, and fitness room. A free hot breakfast is included.

Accommodation: Andell Inn

4. Tides Folly Beach

Photo Source: Tides Folly Beach

On beautiful Folly Beach, the Tides is just nine miles from historic downtown Charleston and has a fun and relaxed beach vibe. The only oceanfront hotel on this barrier island beach, it sits right next to the fishing pier. The rooms are all spacious and come with ocean views from balconies or patios. Should you be traveling with your pup, the Tides is pet-friendly.

On-site amenities include a heated outdoor swimming pool that stays open all year, as well as a workout room with basic equipment. There is also a restaurant with a beach vibe and an oceanside patio for relaxing. Bring your own beach chairs, however, as Tides does charge to rent one.

Accommodation:Tides Folly Beach

5. Regatta Inn

Photo Source: Regatta Inn

Also on Folly Beach, the Regatta Inn overlooks the Sunset Cay Marina. It is a relaxed bed and breakfast with just 10 rooms, which differ slightly in decor, but all are contemporary and comfortable. They also all come with fully screened, furnished porches, which are especially fabulous for spending long lazy evenings relaxing on—book one with ocean views if possible.

In the morning, a big continental breakfast spread is served and includes pastries, baked goods, fresh fruit, and charcuterie. Other amenities include afternoon snacks, golf court transport to the beach and other parts of the island, and free parking.

Accommodation: Regatta Inn

6. The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina

Photo Source: The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina

Stay on the waterfront but with easy access to downtown when booking The Beach Club. Set at the Charleston Harbor, just across the bridge from the city center, it offers 92 rooms and suites with a seafaring modern style. All feature maritime designs and eye-popping colors, along with comfy beds and, best of all, fireplaces and soaking tubs.

Families will like the suites, which offer even more space for little ones to play and often direct harbor views from private balconies. Other family-friendly amenities include a kids' club and children's menus at the on-site restaurants. Other perks of staying include a private beach area, luxe spa, and a 24-hour workout room should you need to relieve stress at any hour of the night.

Accommodation: The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina

Best Budget Hotels in Charleston

Because not everyone has the same budget, we've also included our favorite cheap hotels, motels, and hostels around Charleston.

1. Charleston's NotSo Hostel

Photo Source: Charleston's NotSo Hostel

Hostels can be a great way to meet other like-minded travelers and also save some dough when it comes to sleeping. The NotSo Hostel is in the historic downtown area and is within walking distance of shops and dining.

Set in a few adjacent 19th-century homes, it offers a range of private rooms and dorms that sleep up to eight people either coed or single sex. Linens are provided. The property offers free Wi-Fi and parking, as well as a complimentary breakfast. There is also a communal kitchen if you'd like to prepare your own meals.

Accommodation: Charleston's NotSo Hostel

2. Days Inn by Wyndham Charleston Historic District

Photo Source: Days Inn by Wyndham Charleston Historic District

Another good cheap hotel in a great location right down in the Charleston historic district is this Days Inn by Wyndham. If you just want a clean place to lay your head in a motel-style setting this is where to book. The property is even pet-friendly should you be traveling with a dog. On-site amenities include an outdoor pool and a restaurant.

Accommodation: Days Inn by Wyndham Charleston Historic District

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