While Charleston has its share of hotel chains, here are several hidden gems for every budget that make a stay in Charleston as unique as the historic attractions.
On the outskirts of downtown Charleston, NotSo Hostel is a small cluster of 19th century homes that bring the popular, economical European lodging experience to the Lowcountry. The compound has 5 dorm rooms with bunks and 8 single private rooms that feel unpretentious yet comfortable with furnishings in warm, inviting colors. Guests will find standard hotel amenities such as free internet, private off-street parking and a continental breakfast. The property is a short 10-minute walk from upper King Street and a 10-minute drive to the historic City Market.
In the French Quarter, the secluded Elliott House Inn on Queen Street gives guests a touch of antebellum Charleston. Built in the mid-1800s as a private residence, complete with piazzas to catch the breeze and a serene courtyard, this recently renovated property has 25 guest rooms decorated with a mix of period furnishings and modern accessories. Guests are just steps away from the antique shops of King Street. The inn is also situated in between 2 of Charleston’s best restaurants -- 82 Queen, one of the original establishments of Southern fine dining, and Husk, the recently named “Best New Restaurant in America” by Bon Appetit magazine.
Fifteen minutes from downtown Charleston, Water’s Edge Inn, located on Folly Beach, has a Caribbean feel with palm trees rustling in the breeze and island music softly playing in the courtyard. The 9 rooms in the main building are island-inspired luxury with Tommy Bahama furnishings, queen-sized Heavenly beds, soaking tubs and 4 jet showers. There are fireplaces for the occasional chilly night and private porches where you can watch the sun set over Folly River. Enjoy a glass of the inn’s signature Folly Punch during cocktail hour while relaxing in the Jacuzzi overlooking the marsh. The inn is a popular destination for couples looking for a romantic getaway while the 3-bedroom, 3-bath villas are perfect for a friends’ getaway weekend.
Right in the heart of downtown sits one of Charleston’s most unique boutique hotels, The Restoration on King. The property has 15 modern 1- and 2- bedroom suites all with beautiful dark hardwood floors and exposed brick that complement the contemporary design. Full kitchens, sitting areas for entertaining and private decks round out the experience. The true luxury of this AAA 4-diamond property is the guest services that provide complimentary in-room continental breakfast with pastries and coffee from local vendors. Guests can also hire a private chef to cook a personal meal. The Restoration on King is an excellent choice not only for the leisure traveler looking for a luxurious stay, but also for corporate clientele who will appreciate the spacious, comfortable living quarters that make it easy to host meetings or entertain in private.
The Sanctuary, 45 minutes from Charleston, is an opulent oceanfront refuge at the private Kiawah Island Golf Resort. The grounds feel like a seaside retreat for a wealthy landowner, with majestic oaks surrounding the driveway, grand foyers with soaring ceilings, warm wood floors and antique furnishings. While many travelers stay to play golf on The Sanctuary’s 5 championship courses (the 94th PGA Championship will be held Aug. 6-12 on the Ocean Course) or enjoy one of the country’s top tennis centers, The Sanctuary also has private access to a pristine beach, 3 magnificent swimming pools and an award-winning spa. The property maintains a tremendous nature and recreation program with dolphin tours and backwater kayaking, gator walks and bird watching. Guests also will love the impressive dining experiences at the Ocean Room, its signature steakhouse, and Jasmine’s Porch, which features a Sunday jazz brunch with an extravagant buffet.