A Charleston native’s top hometown hotels

Megan Pinckney | 3/2/2017, 12:12 p.m.
Spring is the best season to experience all that the historic city of Charleston, S.C., has to offer.
Charleston, South Carolina Megan Pinckney Photo

Spring is the best season to experience all that the historic city of Charleston, S.C., has to offer. With unseasonably warm temperatures descending down onto the Holy City over the past several weeks, it may be fair to say that spring has officially sprung. And everyone that has tried booking a room in Charleston over the past few weeks will agree. Limited space and soaring prices suggest that the tourist season (which usually doesn’t pick up until late March) may

have already begun.

If you’ve been thinking of visiting, but aren’t quite sure where to stay, take it from a local. Here are my top three favorite hotels in Charleston!

The Grand Bohemian

The Grand Bohemian Charleston is a swanky luxury boutique hotel located in the heart of downtown. Unlike most things in the city, nothing about this hotel feels historic. Instead, the hotel features bold colors, graphic patterns and furniture with lots of flair throughout its 50 guest rooms and lobby. Needless to say, every corner of this hotel is the perfect backdrop for your next Instagram photo.

Though a bit small, each room is equipped with a bed that offers a great night’s rest and incredible one-of-a-kind artwork. The hotel’s love for great art extends beyond the rooms and into the Grand Bohemian Gallery located on the ground level. Guests (both staying at the hotel and not) are invited to view a collection of work by locally and nationally renowned artists. And if you pop in at the right time, the gallery director may be able to take you on a complimentary tour throughout

the gallery and hotel.

At the very top of the building you’ll find Élevé, Grand Bohemian’s rooftop restaurant, which offers modern American cuisine with a coastal influence. If you aren’t the hotel dining type, Élevé’s outdoor rooftop lounge is worth a visit for a few drinks. The cozy lounge offers posh seating, a fire pit and some of the best views Charleston has to offer. The hotel, however, is most proud of its wine blending room and for being the first stand-alone hotel in the United States to offer educational

wine blending classes.

The hotel staff is friendly and helpful, but they also understand the importance of giving guests their personal space—which can oftentimes be hard for hotel staff in smaller hotels. Rooms start at $254 a night. Valet parking is offered; however, a self-park garage is steps away from the hotel.

The Spectator

I always offer an extra star to hotels that care enough about their guests to offer them a welcome cocktail when they first arrive! There is just something about that Southern hospitality that warrants high remarks. So I would not be surprised at all if I found out that The Spectator’s bourbon apple cider cocktail (offered to you at check-in—and brought to your room if you so happen to ask) had something to do with them recently being named the No. 1 city hotel in the

continental United States.

Along with the cocktail, the hotel offers a contemporary take on the elegant and art deco feel of the 1920s throughout its 41 guest rooms, lobby and late-afternoon cocktail bar. Every day, each room is thoughtfully stocked with complimentary minibar items and popular local snacks made from recipes that date back centuries.

Adding to its appeal, most rooms have a view of the city’s most recognizable landmark (the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge) and all rooms come with butler service. That’s right, butler service! For the duration of your stay, a butler is assigned to be at your service for whatever you may need. Think unpacking or repacking, making reservations at that restaurant everyone’s trying to get into, scheduling tours or appointments, ironing, anything!

The hotel is located feet away from some of Charleston’s busiest streets, yet it feels tucked away as its own blissful refuge from the rowdiness that tends to ensue outside. But being tucked away does not mean you will miss any of the action. Within minutes, guests can walk to popular destinations like Lower King Street, the Shops at Belmond Charleston Place, the Market district, dozens of noteworthy restaurants, Waterfront Park and even the historic Battery. And occasionally, a horse-drawn carriage filled with tourists will trot by the hotel, providing a unique visual that only enhances the

hotel’s old-world charm.

The hotel is very easy for Uber drivers (or local friends) to find. Valet parking is offered and probably preferred as self-parking would be difficult because of the vast number of nearby metered spots that restrict parking in the wee hours of the morning.

Rooms start at $329 a night.

The Vendue

The Vendue is Charleston’s first and only hotel dedicated to the arts. The boutique hotel has installed more than 300 pieces of art throughout its property, which spans across two historic warehouses located on either side of Vendue Range.

An understanding of the hotel’s tagline, “Historic even by Charleston standards,” takes place the moment you pull up. Its colorful exterior looks just like a building you’d expect to see in a sketch of old Charlestown, which is fitting once you realize its oldest warehouse dates back to 1780. That historic feel is continued throughout the property’s beautiful refinished wood floors, the exposed brick featured in some rooms, the giant Iron Gate on the ground floor and the fact that no two rooms are geometrically the same. Each unique bedroom was decorated with various period-specific furnishings and antique pieces to complete the look. (Note: interior rooms have no windows, and I found happiness in a “signature room.”)

The Vendue offers guests three distinct dining experiences: The Drawing Room—a lavish dinner spot specializing in sophisticated locally sourced seafood and produce, The Rooftop—a year-round outdoor spot that offers cocktails, lunch and dinner, and The Press—a small café that offers a variety of coffee options and small bites.

The hotel is just steps away from the Waterfront Park, The Battery, the market and dozens of restaurants. Self-parking options are all around the hotel, and valet parking is offered as well. Rooms start at $169 a night during the week.

Megan Pinckney (@shadesofpinck) is a retired beauty queen turned lifestyle blogger who loves exploring the world and writing about it.