Pillow Talk: Between the Sheets of Emeline Hotel, Charleston

The terrace of the Emeline Hotel takes on a new level of ambiance come nightfall
The terrace of the Emeline Hotel takes on a new level of ambiance come nightfall | Courtesy of Emeline Hotel, Charleston / Expedia.com

In this old-world South Carolina city, it’s tempting to stop all the clocks. But this fresh stay reveals new reasons to kick back at neighborhood restaurants and rooftop bars.

With its carefully conserved historic districts and horse-drawn carriages clopping past antebellum mansions, Charleston is a city with a strong sense of its past. A sultry tropical climate and palm-lined streets give the South Carolina city an almost Caribbean feel, while its famously warm Lowcountry hospitality comes with a side-serving of southern charm. It’s there in spades at the Emeline Hotel, set within a century-old grocery store, now spruced up with timeless interiors and luxury details in every nook, all primed for exploring Holy City’s highlights.

1. Hotel Emeline


Elegant modern room at the Emeline Hotel, Charleston
Courtesy of Emeline Hotel, Charleston / Expedia.com

From its extensive vinyl collection to its note-perfect vintage touches, it’s clear a lot has gone into the making of this swish hotel. Its illustrious 181 Church Street address used to house the largest grocery store in the south and its ample space has been put to excellent use. Centered around the wood-fired oven, its indoor-outdoor restaurant, Frannie & The Fox, is now one of the neighborhood’s finest. A cozy, buzzy cafe, Clerks Coffee Company, serves up warm pastries, gourmet coffee and a breakfast menu of egg-white frittatas and crispy grits with kale. Like everything at this hotel, it’s a menu that millennials will love that also chimes with traditionalists, too.

2. Charleston City Market


The historic Charleston City Market exterior
© f11photo / Depositphotos.com
Just steps from the Emeline is the city’s cultural heart and most visited attraction: Charleston City Market. Dating back more than two centuries, this bustling landmark stretches the length of four blocks, albeit in a slender strip of low-rise buildings. During the day you can browse its corridors of micro-boutiques selling everything from custom jewelry and handmade hats to freshly-baked cookies and homemade scents. A night market opens twice weekly, too, showcasing the work of dozens of local artists and artisans.

3. Hank’s Seafood Restaurant

Restaurant, Seafood

Fresh opened oysters with lemon, spices, salt, a knife and seaweed, Charleston
© Valentinjukov / Depositphotos.com

Set in a turn-of-the-century warehouse overlooking the Charleston City Market, restaurants don’t get much more grand and legendary than Hank’s. It’s been a mainstay in the city’s dining scene for a couple of decades now, and its plump leather booths and wood-paneled walls perfectly recreate a classic Charleston fish house. Slurp up fresh oysters from the raw bar, or for something special, treat yourself to Hank’s Seafood Tower – a selection of iced shellfish from all over the world.

4. The Charleston Museum


War of Independence figures at The Charleston Museum
Courtesy of The Charleston Museum
Founded in 1773, this museum lays claim to the title of America’s oldest, albeit now mostly housed in a collection of modern red-brick buildings. An exhaustive collection of artifacts are spread across numerous permanent exhibitions, from paleontological curiosities to items chronicling the region’s often turbulent history. It includes a pair of restored historic houses that provide glimpses into Charleston’s past and the people who inhabited the city through the ages.

5. South Carolina Aquarium


excited father and son watching the marine life in oceanarium, Charleston
© Olesiabilkei / Depositphotos.com
Set on the waterfront overlooking Charleston Harbor, this huge aquarium is up there with the city’s most family-friendly attractions. It has an impressive collection of more than 5,000 animal species, found across the state, from sea, land and air. There are lots of opportunities to interact with the creatures, too, like feeding stingrays and even petting sharks. Sign up for their After Hours event for an adults-only, all-inclusive experience involving nibbles, drinks and entertainment as you stroll through uncrowded galleries.

6. Halls Chophouse

Restaurant, American

Among numerous bars and restaurants lining busy King Street, Halls Chophouse stands out for its Sunday Gospel Brunch. You’ll find the usual items on the menu, but with lovely Lowcountry twists, like crabcake eggs Benedict with Creole hollandaise and sweet Southern potato pancakes, all to be enjoyed to the strains of Gospel music. Dinner also offers soul-food classics like lobster mac ‘n’ cheese and creamed corn, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better quality steak in South Carolina.

7. The Rooftop Bar

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Cocktails

Bar with bartenders and harbor scene in the background at The Vendue, Charleston
Courtesy of The Vendue / Expedia.com
Who doesn’t love a rooftop bar? Especially one with such superb sweeping harbor views, buzzy atmosphere and a cocktail list you’d happily spend the evening working your way through. There’s a decent menu of belly-fillers, too, so you don’t get carried away and regular live music further elevates the vibe. Get there before dusk to add a magic sunset into the mix.

8. Gibbes Museum of Art


Charleston South Carolina,historic Downtown,Gibbes Museum of Art,exhibit and collection of furniture and paintings
© Jeffrey Isaac Greenberg 10+ / Alamy Stock Photo

Occupying a handsome beaux-arts building complete with a stately columned facade and Tiffany-style cupola, this museum is a work of art in itself. It also boasts a collection of over 10,000 artworks spanning four centuries, mostly by American artists and many with a connection to the city. If you want to learn more about the works, visit during “docent hours” and you’ll find experts stationed throughout the museum ready and waiting to answer any questions.

9. Charleston Music Hall

Historical Landmark, Theater

Built as a passenger station of the South Carolina Railroad in the mid-19th century, this eye-catching piece of gothic revivalist architecture was reborn after 60 derelict years as the city’s top live music venue. With just under a thousand seats, the space can feel intimate but still attracts some of the bigger names – David Byrne and Joan Baez among them. Catch local legends, the Charleston Jazz Orchestra, who play regularly here. It’s a popular stop on the comedy circuit, too.

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