The Grande Dame of Southern cities, Charleston beckons with its wafts of jasmine, flickering gas lanterns, indulgent Lowcountry cuisine, and beautiful places to stay. The city’s ceaseless stream of visitors—seven million a year, on average—means unending demand for hotels. These five properties, opened or renovated within the last few years, continue the grand tradition in their own unique way and offer an excellent base from which to explore the city.
Entered along a cobblestoned alley off the popular shopping district of King Street, The Pinch lives in a cluster of connecting structures: one new construction and two mid-19th-century buildings. Inside, a mix of global contemporary with traditional Southern aesthetics makes for a multilayered look—think clean-lined walnut coffee tables and hand-painted black-and-white Moroccan tiles alongside antique rugs, wicker chairs and tufted sofas. For guests seeking tension-melting activities, an earthen-hued spa offers extensive treatments using Italian eco-skincare line Davines Comfort Zone. While each of the 25 rooms and suites, including three longer-term residences, comes with brass cocktail kits, for a proper libation head to the ground floor Quinte oyster house, named for its former life as a WWI-era billiards room, where an 12-seat marble oyster bar features a formidable cocktail menu. The hotel’s eagerly awaited French bistro, Lowland, is opening soon across the alley in a former carriage house.
This property was inspired by Charleston’s historic gardens, and Jazz Age landscape artist Loutrel Briggs, who designed nearly 100 private gardens around Charleston. It translates Briggs’ open-air work into charming interiors beginning with the lobby, where a colorful landscape painting by Charleston native Linda Fantuzzo, wicker furniture, a cushioned swing, and hanging lanterns are inspired by the city’s breezy verandas. Across the 50 guest rooms, a pleasant palette of blue and taupe is punched up by photographs of the Lowcountry’s Spanish-moss-draped landscapes. (That fresh rosemary-mint fragrance is courtesy of bath products from plant-based local skincare brand Deep Steep.) The Loutrel has an on-site eatery, Veranda Lounge, as well as happy hour with botanically inspired craft cocktails and light bites every evening in the lobby. Cozy loungers at the rooftop bar provide the ideal perch to continue the merriment into the night, when gas lanterns flicker across the city below and starlight floods the sky above.
The Ryder Hotel
Japhy Ryder, a semifictional beatnik who finds himself through travel in Jack Ker Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums, is the namesake of this hotel. And true to the protagonist, the hotel does away with formality and embraces fun in this former mid-century motor inn near downtown’s Waterfront Park. Inspired by Charleston’s coastal beauty, designer Cortney Bishop drapes the 91 rooms in beach-boho decor that includes blonde-wood floors, custom-woven rugs and curvilinear rattan furniture accented with pale-blue fabrics, including recycled blankets, that mirror the sky. The rooftop Little Palm café conjures a Miami-via-Marrakesh vibe thanks to the jungle-green and hot-pink color scheme, palm-frond wallpaper and poolside gingham umbrellas positioned above divan-like daybeds. The menu is small but gratifying, underscored by Southern-modern dishes such as fried chicken on skew-ers drenched in sweet chili sauce. The buzzy scene—a hip clientele sipping on creative cocktails and swaying to local DJs—encapsulates the hotel’s ethos tiled into the pool: “A good time state of mind.”
The gurus at Makeready channeled the Charleston Renaissance, a time of booming cultural experimentation between the two World Wars, into the creative essence of Emeline. Within walking distance of the historic City Market, the hotel is housed in an antebellum building that served as a grocer, a bank and a DoubleTree. Its newest iteration obliterates its commercial past in favor of artisanal comforts: Think mood lighting by local light designers The Urban Electric Company and a 500-strong vinyl record collection. Fittingly, the 212 rooms and suites feature a Crosley turntable alongside jewel-toned and deep-cushioned furnishings to sink into as your record of choice plays in the background. Several rooms, including the two-story maisonettes, open onto the sun-dappled and jasmine-trellised inner courtyard. Here, the Italian-inspired Frannie & the Fox restaurant specializes in wood-fired fare like seared octopus with carrot puree and burnt-honey-and-pepper-coated Taleggio pizza. Nearby, a cabinet showcases Lowcountry curios such as barnacle-covered sea glass and a turtle shell, while a speakeasy-style cocktail window hidden behind a curtain secretly opens onto the bar, an imaginative trick that would surely make the Charleston Renaissance creatives proud.
Although it has been open for several years, the HarbourView Inn recently underwent an extensive renovation. The hotel is named for the historic wharf it sits across from and the endless harbor vistas its location affords. To rival those views, local interior designer Jenny Keenan replaced dark and heavy furniture across all 52 guest rooms with updated traditional pieces such as turquoise-painted armoires with cane detailing, pale-blue tartan carpets, and soft cream accents. In the second-floor lobby, reminiscent of a Southern home with wooden shutters and ceiling fans, guests can indulge in a nightly wine-and-cheese reception while surveying the lively scene on the pier below. The hotel doesn’t have a restaurant, but the popular Saffron Restaurant & Bakery provides breakfast for guests, who can enjoy the meal in any of the hotel’s public spaces. We recommend the rooftop, where views of the city’s 400 church steeples, accompanied by the sound of their ringing bells, herald a good start to the day.