From fighter planes and football games to state parks, forests, and timeworn mansions, the city of Columbia, South Carolina, makes for a great trip. Spend the night in a historic cottage, or turn to a martini served up in a bank-vault bar – however you want to experience Columbia, picking the right place to stay is key. Here’s our roundup of the best hotels, inns, B&Bs, and suites around town.
Located close to two major interchanges, the Doubletree Columbia provides a great base for travelers looking for Hilton-standard comfort and convenience in equal measure. Nature lovers will have plenty to do, too, with outdoor spots like the Saluda Shoals Park, Lake Murray, and the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden nearby.
The seven-story, open-atrium Embassy Suites Hotel will send a free shuttle to meet you at the airport and arrange a return journey for you on the day you check out. This kind of thoughtful hospitality is a common touch here – you can even have your breakfast made to order. It’s in a handy spot for exploring Columbia’s top landmarks: the zoo, the Riverbanks Botanical Garden, and the Saluda Riverwalk where you can hire kayaks are all right around the corner.
A stay at Graduate Columbia puts you in the thick of downtown, and right on the University of South Carolina campus. There’s a distinctly local feel about the place, from Gamecock-inspired headboards to portraits of former alum Darius Rucker who went on to form the band Hootie & the Blowfish and is now one of America’s most famous country music singers. Plaids and touches of grasscloth come together in guest rooms, while down in the lobby, bright colors and florals pop against the dark wood paneling. Pick a book from the shelf in the lobby-level cafe, Poindexter Coffee, and learn more about the city’s past over a coffee or two.
The entrance to Hotel Trundle, once home to a Western Auto, greets you with svelte green booth seating, a matte-black, raised-panel feature wall, and a wrap-around staircase painted with roses that look like a grandmother’s cross-stitched pillows. Beyond that, brick walls, exposed ceilings, and metal accents hint further at the hotel’s industrial past. Plus, all of the furniture here – including the beds, the breakfast table, and the reception desk – is custom built by a local craftsman. It’s a testament to Trundle owners Rita and Marcus’s attention to detail, who even go as far as providing each guest with a guidebook full of curated recommendations.
The Marriott offers a well-rounded, upmarket stay with plenty of nods to local culture. The hotel’s restaurant, Midlands’, serves up a slew of classic dishes, like shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, and ham hock collard greens. Snag a room with a balcony for a prime view of the capital, or head out and explore it for yourself: the Marriott drops you in the heart of downtown, right by the steps of the Columbia Museum of Art’s Boyd Plaza.
Standing 215ft (65m) high, the Sheraton Columbia Downtown was the tallest building in town when it was constructed in the early 1900s. Originally it was a bank, complete with the vault that now serves as the hotel’s hidden martini bar. The striking façade, made of carved limestone and terracotta, reaches all the way up to the rooftop bar, which overlooks downtown and Main Street below. There’s plenty to keep you entertained nearby: across the street, Granger Owings will suit you up with tailored fits, while Stoner’s Pizza Joint slings slices until the wee hours of the morning.