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About South Carolina
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South Carolina, in the south-eastern United States, is perhaps best known for its sub-tropical beaches and for the gracious, plantation houses of Charleston - oh, and for being the starting point of the Civil War. And it still has a fierce, patriotic spirit. Although most of the best places to stay in South Carolina are in and around Charleston, and along the coast with its palm-tree-lined beaches, antebellum cities, golf courses and bright lights of Myrtle Beach, the state has plenty more to discover inland. Here you’ll find national parks - such as Table Rock - sleepy towns, mysterious black-water swamps with moss-hung oaks, and the magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains.
Stay on the coast and enjoy miles of white-sand beaches and watersports. The wide-open, pristine beaches of Huntingdon Beach State Park are excellent for bird-watching and the chance to spot alligators and loggerhead turtles.
Explore islands such as laidback Pawleys with its unspoilt beaches, hammocks and crabbing opportunities. Or enjoy the charms of coastal cities such as Georgetown with a horse-drawn carriage ride around the historic downtown area of the old docks, now converted to restaurants and shops. And for non-stop entertainment and plenty of family fun, head to Myrtle Beach.
Charleston is a must, with its sorbet-coloured houses, elegant architecture and proliferation of church steeples - hence its nickname ‘Holy City’ - making its streets a delight to wander. Full of classic Southern charm, this can be discovered by a stroll around the harbour and White Point Gardens or through the historic French Quarter. After a rooftop cocktail, explore the City Market, a great place to shop, sample local food and hear the local gossip.
For a breath of the big outdoors, head ‘upcountry’ to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, an area with over 150 waterfalls, three large freshwater lakes, Chattooga River, thousands of acres of parks, and hundreds of miles of trails for hiking, cycling or horse-riding.
Why not use our guide to the best places to stay in South Carolina to plan a trip that takes in both the coast and the wilder, less discovered inland areas?
Best historic hotels in Charleston
- The splendid Wentworth Mansion, with its portico, mansard roof and decorative ironwork, oozes history. Inside it doesn’t disappoint either, with marble floors and vaulted ceilings, and airy rooms with panelling, fireplaces and antiques.
- For a quirkier take on history, try the boutique John Rutledge House Inn, a historic townhouse with ornate ironwork, where rooms mix grand Italian fireplaces and four-posters with chandeliers and bold modern colours.
Best hotels in the historic centre of Charleston
- With its airy, classically styled rooms and terrific city views, the Belmond Charleston Place has prime position in the historic centre. This comfortable, traditional hotel also has an indoor pool and spa.
- Well-placed in the historic district, Planters Inn is a classic 19th-century inn with gracious rooms furnished with elegance and four-poster beds. The fine-dining Peninsula Grill offers the chance to eat al fresco, too.
Best B&Bs in Charleston
- The Restoration on King is an old-style hotel given a modern makeover with hardwood floors, exposed brickwork and shiny, modern kitchens for rustling up suppers. Breakfasts and wine-and-cheese receptions are offered daily plus there’s a fabulous roof-top terrace.
- King’s Courtyard Inn, with its Greek-Revival façade, offers beautifully light and elegantly traditional rooms, and is strolling distance from a wealth of restaurants.
- You’ll find four-poster beds and shady verandas at Harbourview Inn a 19th-century townhouse which, as its names suggests, overlooks the harbour in Waterfront Park.
Best hotels for foodies in Charleston
- Set across three townhouses, Zero George Street has a colonial style, from its high ceilings and wooden floors to its airy rooms and shady verandas. It also offers an award-winning restaurant and twice-weekly cookery classes at the nearby Kitchen Carriage House.
For active types
- Fishing, surfing and hiking trails amongst Spanish-moss covered trees are all on the doorstep at The Rhett House Inn at Beaufort, a classic southern inn with light and elegantly furnished rooms.
- Or head inland to The Willcox at Aiken, a grand 19th-century mansion with classically elegant rooms and where you can take your pick of golf, polo, bird-watching, cycling, riding and guided wildlife walks. Afterwards, take a well-deserved rest in the spa.
- With watersports, golf, yoga, fishing, clay-pigeon shooting and hiking, amongst the many activities on offer at The Inn at Palmetto Bluff - plus spa for relaxation - the family will never be bored. Sleep in Southern-style clapboard cottages at this luxury resort on the River May.
For more ideas, browse our list of the best places to stay in South Carolina. Or contact one of our friendly gurus for advice.
Best Hotels in South Carolina
The Rhett House Inn 14 rooms from $179Beaufort, South Carolina
Beautfort Historic district, home to a romantic classic Southern Inn with award-winning breakfast, manicured lawns and warm hospitality. Four-poster beds, art works, all the needed mod-cons and private bathrooms. A great selection of restaurants are walking distance.Fishing - With literally hundreds of square miles of tide waters and grassy marshes to draw from, fishing possibilities are endless.Great walks - Spanish Moss Trail is a 3.3 mile pedestrian trail open for the enjoyment of bikers, runners, and walkers.Surfing - Surfers are now loving SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) and you should get with the craze too.Back to Nature - River, marsh land and national parks make up a brilliant weekend surrounded by nature.
The Willcox 22 rooms from $189Aiken, South Carolina
Grand, graceful 19th Century mansion turned boutique hotel. Fine southern hospitality, classic interiors & prime location close to world renowned golf courses & all the outdoor activities you can think of. Highly regarded restaurant serves local cuisine. Relax at the spa and plan your return trip!Great walks - Explore Hitchcock Woods - the largest urban woods in America with just under 2,000 acres of land.Sights nearby - A former winter colonial mansion turned into Aiken County Historical Museum.Fishing - Picnics or fishing in the Aiken State Park is a fantastic day trip.Four poster beds - For romantics.
Kings Courtyard Inn 41 rooms from $199Charleston (South Carolina)
1853 Ancient Greek revival facade, classically decorated interiors and two courtyards. High ceilings, original features in the comfortable rooms with private bathrooms and complimentary breakfast. Step back into Charleston's history through tours and mansions, or explore the modern day restaurants.Sights nearby - Drayton Hall Plantation is the oldest 18th Georgian Palladian building resting on the Ashley River.Great walks - At dawn, or at dusk, walk south of broad.Romantic - Good for couples.Four poster beds - For romantics.
The Restoration on King 15 rooms from $257Charleston (South Carolina)
Old downtown hotel offers local elegance, hardwood floors and exposed brick. Fully equipped kitchens (with dryer and washing machine), comfortable double beds and modern bathrooms. Breakfast offered in picnic baskets, wine and cheese reception every evening and cookies with milk as a nightcap.Sights nearby - Angel Oak - a live oak tree over 1,400 years old.Local markets - Charleston Museum for local and natural history.Seaside - Ideal for a seaside holiday.Full of characterRecommended by - Tablet
Harbourview Inn 52 rooms from $225Charleston (South Carolina)
This townhouse mansion in the historic district on the Waterfront Park maintains the traditional interiors such as high ceiling reception, welcoming fireplace and art works. Rooms boast fine linens, four-poster beds, whirlpool baths and breakfast in-room. City exploring is accessible.LuxuryLocal markets - The Old City Market.Sights nearby - Waterfront Park.Views - Great views from hotelRecommended by - Tablet
John Rutledge House Inn 19 rooms from $270Charleston (South Carolina)
Ornate ironwork facade, elaborate interiors with Italian fireplaces make this historical townhouse a Charleston boutique favourite. Large light rooms with complimentary breakfast and access to a relaxing courtyard. Plantations, history and oceanfront strolls await you from this prime spot.Sights nearby - Fort Sumter is where you can imagine the first shots of the Civil War.Great walks - Step back in time and explore Charlestons history on a walking tour.Four poster beds - For romantics.Full of character
Zero George Street 18 rooms from $289Charleston (South Carolina)
A boutique hotel set in three early 19th century townhouses with unique Southern charm, full of character. Exceptional food, great details, close to the historic centre.Foodies - The Zero Cafe has earned glowing reviews for its locally sourced and seasonal cuisineCooking classes - Every Monday and Saturday classes are held in the Kitchen Carriage HouseSights nearby - Middleton Place: a National Historic LandmarkGreat walks - The Original Charleston WalksRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith
Planters Inn 64 rooms from $330Charleston (South Carolina)
Prime location in the historic district, a 19th Century inn with classic interiors and fine dining at Peninsula Grill. Spacious rooms offer four-poster beds, private sitting rooms and bathrooms. Dine al fresco, or explore the city market for many other options. A historian's dream stay.Local markets - Charleston City Market is a chance to meet Lowcountry artisans including more than 50 Gullah sweetgrass basket weavers.Great walks - Middleton Place or Magnolia Gardens, previous plantation houses, offer some brilliant gardens.Sights nearby - Confederate Museum.Seaside - Ideal for a seaside holiday.Recommended by - Relais & Chateaux
Belmond Charleston Place 434 rooms from $365Charleston (South Carolina)
Old South hospitality, grand reception rooms and prime spot in the historic centre. Rooms are conservatively decorated with marble bathrooms and city views. Charleston Grill is southern cooking at its finest and a drinking hole for locals. Traditional hotel is home to an indoor pool, spa and gym.Great walks - Head to Waterfront Park for walk trails and fountains.Sights nearby - Confederate Museum closeby.Views - Great views from hotelLively - Hip and happening.Recommended by - Tablet
The Inn at Palmetto Bluff 230 rooms from $370Bluffton, South Carolina
This luxury resort rests on the May River with golf course, pool and full spa and fitness centre. Southern-style clapboard cottages have fireplaces, fine linens and modern bathrooms. The relaxed River House offers elegant dining. Explore river and ranch activities or relax by pool and spa.Golf - 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature course at the May River Golf ClubKids Club - PB Explorers and Pioneers clubs welcome children from 5-12 years, and offer a wide range of activities and eventsSwimming Pool - There's a selection of outdoor pool, whether you want to swim laps or relax on a loungerSurfing - Paddleboarding is considered the new surfing - get involved!Recommended by - Tablet
Wentworth Mansion 21 rooms from $405Charleston (South Carolina)
America’s Gilded Age mansion oozes Charleston history through its marble floors, vaulted high ceilings and antique furnishings. Large rooms with fireplaces are unique and with modern amenities and complimentary breakfast. Enjoy a range of spa treatments or head out to explore yester-year.Great walks - This pet friendly hotel is the perfect place for all the family, and there are many parks to take your pooch for a walk.OpulentRomantic - Good for couples.Full of characterRecommended by - Small Luxury Hotels, Fodors
The Spectator 41 rooms from $569Charleston
A boutique hotel in the centre of historic Charleston, evoking the style of the roaring twenties, complemented with Southern charm and hospitality. Stylish rooms and suites with an art deco vibe, some with balcony or terrace and gourmet breakfast delivered to your door. A chic city centre spot.Local exploring - Right in the heart of the Historic District, with neo-classical architecture, cobblestone streets and antebellum mansions.City Style - A sleek choice- this boutique hotel boasts cool 1920's speakeasy bar, crisp modern rooms and phenomanal service.Local markets - The Historic Charleston City Market is just down the road.Restrictions on children