Southeast

10 Coolest Charleston Hotels | History, Romance, and Boutique Bliss

Adapting to South Carolina's unhurried pace and relaxed Southern drawl comes easy to those lodging at any of these 10 charming Charleston hotels.

Whether the clip-clop of horse hooves, tree limbs heavy with wispy Spanish moss or an exuberant afternoon downpour; the sounds, sights and smells of Charleston never fail to put me in a dreamy mood.

Forget the skyscraper-filled urban jungle, my genteel metropolis gets its nickname from a skyline full of church steeples. What’s more, the Holy City’s building ordinances have ensured that the sentimental silhouette will endure, as no structures any taller than the Saint Matthew’s Lutheran Church are allowed.

While Charleston is home to the country’s first public library, first theater (Dock Street Theatre) and first museum (The Charleston Museum), we’re most proud of our quintessential Lowcountry cuisine. From luscious she-crab soup to creamy grits adorned with local shrimp, Charleston’s unique culinary offerings embody our rich history and blended traditions.

Similarly, our beloved city’s relaxed, romantic temperament can also be found in its coolest hotels. Compelling, yet tranquil, each offers an opportunity to relax amidst history. (Front porch swing and a sweaty glass of chilled sweet tea are optional).

European Flair Meets Southern Hospitality

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Set in the midst of Charleston’s tree-lined historic district, the refined French Quarter Inn offers the best of Old World charm. Guests are greeted with a champagne toast at check-in, plus there are nightly milk and cookies to send you off to dreamland.

Each of the 50 spacious, Provencal-style rooms features fresh flowers, European linens and nightly turndown service, complete with a port wine nightcap. Luxurious suites add Jacuzzi tubs, ornate fireplaces and/or private balconies with city views.

Start your day with the complimentary continental breakfast, served in the lobby, on the terrace or even in the comfort of your comfy bed. Then, borrow a beach cruiser and pedal across the nearby Ravenel Jr. Bridge for postcard-worthy views of the city.

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French Quarter Inn

Top rated
Charleston, 8.2 miles to Boone Hall Plantation
9.7 Excellent (2206 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.8 / 10
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French Quarter Inn

Top rated
Charleston
9.7 Excellent (2206 reviews)

Harbor Views From a Four-Poster Bed

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The only waterfront hotel in downtown Charleston, The HarbourView Inn is a must for unparalleled sunset views. Set across from lively Waterfront Park, guests can walk to most of the city’s attractions, easily returning for an afternoon nosh at the daily wine and cheese reception.

Occupying a converted cotton warehouse built in the 1830s, the inn’s 52 rooms offer polished West Indian style and feature custom-made armoires and stately four-poster beds. With their original brick walls and 14-foot ceilings, rooms in the historic wing provide a taste of times past, while those overlooking the harbor add private balconies, whirlpool tubs and/or working fireplaces.

After enjoying the free continental breakfast and sweeping city views on the hotel’s breezy rooftop terrace, take a short stroll and catch the boat to historic Fort Sumter National Monument for a fascinating glimpse into Charleston’s Civil War history. Hungry? A block away, Magnolias restaurant serves some of the finest upscale Southern Cuisine in town.

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HarbourView Inn

Top rated
Charleston, 8.1 miles to Boone Hall Plantation
9.5 Excellent (4496 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.7 / 10
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HarbourView Inn

Top rated
Charleston
9.5 Excellent (4496 reviews)

Jazz Age Glam and a Personal Butler

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Less than a block from the bustling City Market, The Spectator Hotel presents guests with an opportunity to live like Gatsby. Hand-painted wallpaper, mirrored ceilings, and an opulent crystal chandelier greet you, followed by a lively welcome cocktail served in the hotel’s popular, speakeasy-themed bar.

The hotel’s bright, Art Deco-style rooms offer luxe velvet headboards, local art, and custom mattresses. If that’s not enough, each guest is provided with a personal butler who’s available to arrange transportation, deliver breakfast, or even draw a salt-filled evening bath.

Hop on one of the hotel’s complimentary bicycles and grab some superlative barbecue at Poogan’s Smokehouse before cruising over to eight-acre Waterfront Park. There, pedal under the dense canopy of graceful oak trees before taking in the unobstructed views of historic Castle Pinckney in the Charleston Harbor.

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Hotel The Spectator

Top rated
Charleston, 8.2 miles to Boone Hall Plantation
9.5 Excellent (445 reviews)
Excellent Service 9.5 / 10
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Hotel The Spectator

Top rated
Charleston
9.5 Excellent (445 reviews)

Old World Chic, Plus Foodie Fringe Benefits

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Awash with colonial charm, Zero George Street Hotel occupies a trio of restored, 19th-century Charleston single-style houses clustered around a lush, intimate courtyard. Set in the historic Ansonborough neighborhood, the hotel is surrounded by cobbled streets and historic homes, including the nearby Grimké Sisters house, prominent feminists and abolitionists memorialized in Sue Monk Kidd’s bestselling novel, The Invention of Wings.

The airy, serene rooms feature original heart pine floors and classic hurricane shutters. Upgraded, second-floor suites with fireplaces add furnished, open-air piazzas—Charleston’s word for balconies.

While there are many excellent dining options in the area, the hotel’s own Zero Restaurant + Bar is a celebrated culinary standout, offering an innovative, four-course tasting menu focused on hyper-seasonal food. Step up your own culinary game and schedule a class in the restaurant’s cooking school, housed in a renovated carriage house originally built in 1804.

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Zero George Street

Top rated
Charleston, 7.9 miles to Boone Hall Plantation
9.4 Excellent (344 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.5 / 10
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Zero George Street

Top rated
Charleston
9.4 Excellent (344 reviews)

Sprawling Luxury Steps From Top Shops

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Snug, but chic, The Restoration Hotel is a hip, contemporary option set in the midst of the acclaimed King Street shopping district. Comprised of four interconnected buildings dating back to the late 1800s, the progressive photo installations and urban aesthetic culminate in a unique blend of old and new.

Originally built as luxury condos, each of the swanky suites feature progressive design choices like exposed brick walls, wood-panel ceilings, and functional kitchenettes. Creature comforts abound in the upgraded apartments, with perks like soaking tubs, walk-in closets and washer/dryer units, not to mention the sleek, modern kitchens.

Breakfast is delivered in wicker picnic baskets, quietly left at your doorstep each morning. Shop ’til you drop at surrounding retailers, then let the hotel’s low-key day spa, trendy rooftop bar, and compact outdoor ‘relaxation pool’ restore your Zen.

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Hotel The Restoration

Top rated
Charleston, 8.3 miles to Boone Hall Plantation
9.6 Excellent (750 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.4 / 10
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Hotel The Restoration

Top rated
Charleston
9.6 Excellent (750 reviews)

18th-Century Charm with Modern Art Upgrades

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Housed in a cluster of interconnected 18th-century warehouses once used by French merchants, The Vendue seamlessly blends historic charm with modern conveniences. Billed as an art hotel, it’s also home to a robust gallery filled with a vibrant, rotating collection of work available for purchase.

Along with exposed brick, wood beams and carefully chosen antiques, the stylish, uniquely decorated rooms offer high ceilings and contemporary bathrooms. While the cozy interior rooms lack windows, upgraded rooms with feather beds come with floor-to-ceiling views.

Revival, the hotel’s acclaimed restaurant, serves Southern classics with a present-day twist. Along with an elegant, intimate lobby bar, The Rooftop is a popular local spot featuring classic cocktails, upscale bar food and a two-tiered, top-floor deck surrounded by city lights.

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The Vendue

Top rated
Charleston, 8.1 miles to Boone Hall Plantation
8.9 Excellent (2930 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.4 / 10
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The Vendue

Top rated
Charleston
8.9 Excellent (2930 reviews)

Soothing Rooms Just Steps From History

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With its wrought-iron flower baskets and Juliette balconies, the recently renovated Andrew Pinckney Inn seems like it was plucked straight from the history books. While the charming brick Pinckney building lobby has coffee, tea, and homemade cookies, most guest rooms are set in the subtle Church Street building across the way. Along with a plant-filled, three-story atrium, the Church Street annex also features a rooftop terrace upon which the complimentary breakfast buffet and evening wine reception are held.

Traditional rooms feature dark wood furnishings and crisp white bedding, while polished suites add sitting areas with pull-out sofas and Jacuzzi tubs. There are also luxe two-story townhouses with living rooms and kitchenettes.

Set in the heart of downtown, it’s a quick stroll to the nearby historic Charleston City Market. Filled with vibrant home décor, this is the place to be for eclectic fashion and to watch as talented artisans weave sweetgrass baskets.

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Andrew Pinckney Inn

Top rated
Charleston, 8.1 miles to Boone Hall Plantation
8.7 Excellent (2207 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.4 / 10
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Andrew Pinckney Inn

Top rated
Charleston
8.7 Excellent (2207 reviews)

Venerable Mainstay With Sweeping Views

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Named for the celebrated Revolutionary War hero, the stately Hotel Francis Marion first opened in 1924 and has since been designated a historic site by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Unabashedly opulent, this 12-story grand dame is also one of the tallest buildings in town.

Classically decorated, the light-filled rooms offer traditional wood furniture, while upgraded rooms add additional living areas or sofabeds. Plush penthouse suites feature modern kitchens and panoramic views over historic Marion Square.

In addition to a modest workout room and a full-service day spa, the on-site Swamp Fox Bar and Restaurant serves dependable, Lowcountry-inspired cuisine and refreshments, like their award-winning shrimp and grits, prepared with lobster and tasso ham.

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Hotel Francis Marion

Charleston, 8.3 miles to Boone Hall Plantation
8.4 Very good (4636 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.3 / 10
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Hotel Francis Marion

Charleston
8.4 Very good (4636 reviews)

Posh Quarters and Dreamy Dining

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Uniformed doormen usher you inside the impeccably restored Planters Inn. Filled with lush greenery, the lantern-lit inner courtyard surrounds a tranquil reflection pool and teems with antebellum elegance.

Romantic rooms with four-poster beds, stitched linens, and high-quality antique replicas feature city or garden views. Upgraded suites offer sitting areas, full kitchens or private balconies with wrought-iron furniture.

The award-winning Peninsula Grill epitomizes fine dining and has hosted many a Charlestonian’s quiet anniversary, birthday celebration or another special event. Save a little room for a slice of the restaurant’s legendary 12-layer coconut cake, also available via room service. (Wink, wink.)

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Planters Inn

Top rated
Charleston, 8.3 miles to Boone Hall Plantation
9.3 Excellent (1727 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.8 / 10
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Planters Inn

Top rated
Charleston
9.3 Excellent (1727 reviews)

Mid-Century Chic Meets European Sophistication

Take a former federal building; add a cup of superlative service, a spoonful of mid-century modern panache, and a dash of a French brasserie, and you have The Dewberry. Opened in the summer of 2016, this chic Charleston newcomer is an unabashed testimony to the allure of JFK-era architecture and the brio of modern luxury.

The refined rooms feature sleek, oversized bathrooms, gilded mirrors, and custom armoires covered in hand-illustrated, botanically themed wallpaper. Upgraded corner rooms with superlative views add freestanding cast iron tubs.

Along with a posh spa and popular Library Bar, the eight-floor terrace Citrus Club offers creative light bites and zesty cocktails, like the First-Time Caller, a luscious mix of Jamaican rum, crème de cacao and banana liqueur punctuated with Angostura bitters. Still want more? Head down to sunlit Henrietta’s and enjoy exemplary bistro-inspired fare, such as fresh croissants available during breakfast and brunch, or wood-grilled bavette steak served with rosemary-thyme pommes frites for lunch or dinner.

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The Dewberry

Top rated
Charleston, 8.1 miles to Boone Hall Plantation
9.6 Excellent (1506 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.6 / 10
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The Dewberry

Top rated
Charleston
9.6 Excellent (1506 reviews)

Featured photo courtesy of Charleston CVB