Photo of Zero George, Charleston

Review by James Dunford Wood, published 17th September 2016.

Of all the hotels in America, let alone Charleston, the Zero George ranks up amongst the most enchanting - at least for those people who value character, charm and service over uber-facilities. For this is a small hotel, a classic boutique of just 18 rooms. Set in a group of restored colonial clapper-board houses, the charming people who run the Zero George have created a real gem, a haven of comfort and elegance just a few blocks away from the heart of this very elegant and historic southern city. The rooms are grouped in separate houses, each with it’s own whicker-chaired verandah, and grouped around a central palmetto-shaded courtyard. The neighbourhood is residential, bordering a main through-route into town - (so some rooms can be noisier than others, but the hotel has made great efforts to insulate the ones bordering the road - make sure you ask for a quiet one) - but the walk from the George to the town centre and all the attractions of King street is just a few blocks.

The rooms themselves are cool and elegant, with fine soft fabric furnishings (lots of cream, white and beige), high ceilings, original heart pine floors (the houses date from the early 19th century), and white slatted wooden shutters - worthy of the many interiors magazines the hotel has featured in. The beds boast super comfortable posturepedic mattresses with Italian Frette linens.

With so few rooms, so the hotel feels cosy and intimate, with the sense that guests feeling lucky to be there. They include three suites - two garden suites with their own sit out areas and a top floor suite with views of Charleston harbour.

For foodies, this place is heaven. The original 1804 carriage house kitchen has been fully restored and now doubles as the small reception area and a working kitchen where the top-notch chefs cook dinner in front of guests, as well as hold bi-weekly cooking classes, with local produce, much of it organic. The food is divine, with set tasting menus available each evening in the small elegant dining room or on the candle lit terrace outside.

One of the nicest touches about the Zero George are the details - rarely encountered in hotels, but so effective to create well-being, they offer free water and gently fizzy fruit drinks, free tea and coffee from the machines in the room or the help-yourself bar area, a healthy breakfast included in the rate, and a wine and cheese hour in the late afternoon, open to all guests. The barman, too, offers tales of Charleston and tips of where to go while mixing some of the best cocktails in town.

All in all, the Zero George is a must stay hotel to match the must visit attractions of Charleston. Child friendly, they also have free bikes for guests to borrow - a charming way to see the town and waterfront.