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Charleston has a warm Southern hospitality about it, with its graceful old buildings and their romantic, jasmine-twined verandas, its friendly restaurants, charming churches and beautiful old cemeteries. Charleston’s beauty was protected during the Civil War - it was captured without much damage - and these days the city’s skyline is protected by building restrictions which keep everything limited to a few floors. The best places to stay in Charleston range from charming, reasonably priced B&Bs, through converted mansions to palatial hotels with all the service trimmings.
So when you’re looking for the best places to stay in Charleston it’s worth considering which areas you might want to be based in as well, as there’s plenty of choice. The largest hotels are clustered around the peninsula, from where it’s walking distance to most of Charleston’s historic treasures, but if you have a car then you might want to be based in West Ashley or Mount Pleasant, which are quieter and more affordable, or North Charleston, which is closer to the airport.
Charleston is one of the most popular Southern destinations and there’s a lot here for visitors to see. You’ll encounter a lot of folk taking walking tours, but it’s easy enough to plan your own - or you could opt for a carriage ride!
The Charleston Museum is an obvious choice to start with, as are Fort Sumter in the harbour, or the Old Slave Museum. The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, the Aiken-Rhett House - which was a plantation house, and is now a museum and the Naval and Maritime Museum are the other places to visit to glean more about this wonderful city’s past.
Then there’s the French Quarter for its architecture, Battery Point for the gardens, the Aquarium, the Gibbes Museum of Art and a number of wonderful old mansions. Then of course there are all those churches and places of worship… There’s really a lot to see here!
And of course there’s also a lot to taste here! It’s especially well known for its seafood, but there’s plenty of choice and again that famously generous Southern hospitality.
Our pick of the best places to stay in Charleston are all ideally situated for exploring this fascinating and historic city.
For boutique charm
- Zero George Street has been converted from three 19th Century mansions, and has a unique, very Southern charm. There’s a cooking school in the sophisticated restaurant and 18 beautifully furnished rooms and suites.
- Wentworth Mansion is a Golden Age mansion with marble floors, vaulted ceilings and some very nice antiques. There’s a spa, places for your pet and a complimentary breakfast.
- The John Rutledge House Inn is a historical townhouse converted to a 19 room hotel with large, light, elaborate rooms - some with Italian fireplaces - complimentary breakfast and it’s just a short stroll from the oceanfront.
For city chic
- Planters Inn is a 19th Century inn in the heart of the historic district. There are around 60 spacious rooms, some with four-poster beds and private sitting rooms, and there’s a grill restaurant. This is one of the best places to stay in Charleston if you're here for the history.
- As is the Belmond Charleston Place, a 430 room hotel known for its old Southern hospitality and the Charleston Grill restaurant.
- The Restoration on King is an old hotel reborn into a modern apartment hotel with fully equipped kitchens, including washing machines, and picnic breakfasts and a wine and cheese reception every evening.
The best places to stay in Charleston on the waterfront
- The Harbourview Inn is a 52 room townhouse mansion in the historic district of Waterfront Park close to both the shopping and antiques district. The decor is traditional and some of the rooms have four-poster beds and fireplaces.
For great value
- Kings Courtyard Inn is a 41 room hotel behind a 1853-built Ancient Greek style facade. You’re close to the market and the river and there’s a complimentary breakfast.
Still not sure which to book? Browse through our list of all the best places to stay in Charleston, expand your search to include all our South Carolina recommendations, or contact one of our friendly Gurus for advice.
Best Hotels in Charleston
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 $274Charleston (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.Romantic - Good for couples.Four poster beds - For romantics.
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
The Dewberry 155 rooms from $299Charleston
A beautifully designed hotel set in an historic building. Perfectly mixing contemporary style and traditional charm rooms are chic and homely. A fabulous French brasserie and two bars set the scene for elegant evenings of cocktails and oysters. A glorious hotel that encapsulates that Southern charm.City Style - An elegant property complete with French-style brasserie and two cocktail bars.Sights nearby - Visit the eccentric stately home, the Calhoun Mansion.Romantic - Good for couples.Full of characterRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, Tablet
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
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