South Carolina is perfect for weekend city breaks as well as nature-orientated trips. Home to historic cities such as Charleston, it also has spotless stretches of Atlantic coast. Here’s our pick of the best places to stay, bookable via Culture Trip.
Housed in a mid-19th century building, clustered around three foliage-filled courtyards, rooms at this downtown boutique have preserved original features such as fireplaces, plaster molding, mahogany four-poster beds and hardwood floors. Perks include bagels slathered with cream cheese and fresh OJ each morning along with papers delivered to your room, a wine and cheese reception every evening and a glass of sherry before bed. Enjoy the location on King Street, a buzzy thoroughfare lined with cafes, bars, restaurants and shops of every kind.
A relaxed, beachy theme dominates this playfully bohemian bolthole with rooms decked out with a light-blue decor, pine accents, shell-shaped cushions on wicker armchairs and wall-mounted knots above the beds. Poolside hangout Little Palm does creative cocktails and coastal-inspired plates such as local oysters with a frozen mignonette and Atlantic shrimp with fennel, celery leaf, crushed tomato and rouille. Folly Beach and Sullivan’s Island are both within a 20-minute drive from the hotel.
All rooms at South Carolina’s only Relais & Châteaux inn feature four-poster beds, antique furniture and silk drapery, reflecting the building’s history as a refined country retreat. Evenings at fine-dining restaurant Peninsula Grill follow a long-established routine, starting at 4pm with champagne and slices of the hotel’s legendary, twelve-layer coconut cake. Early evening, the courtyard is illuminated by carriage lanterns and tea lights, providing a romantic setting for gourmet Southern fare.
The stars of the show at Sea Pines Resort’s five-star hotel are the three premier golf courses – PGA-featured Harbour Town Links, Heron Point by Pete Dye and Atlantic Dunes by David Love III. Groups of four can book the elegant Fairway Suite with French windows opening onto a terrace with views of the ninth hole, moss-covered oaks and Carolina pines. Head to Ocean Lounge for cocktails and the Links Grill for prime beef and seafood.
A distinguished veteran of Charleston’s hospitality scene, Mills House has cozily proportioned rooms dressed in pale greens and blues, with city views, private balconies or poolside porches. Dine on Charleston she-crab soup at Barbadoes, one of the town’s most seductive after-dark spaces – a tranquil patio centered around a fountain, surrounded by colonnades and the dining room’s high, arched windows. A casual vibe prevails on the pool’s rectangular terrace, where you can relax with a tipple on rooftop-view lounge chairs.
No expense was spared in making this modern complex look like it’s been there for centuries: the largest mechanical spade in the world transplanted 160 live oak trees (50ft/15m tall) into the grounds, and the lobby’s hand-planked walnut flooring was put on sleepers to make it creak. Rooms and suites are characterized by the light, classical style of a grand seaside residence, and all have ocean-view balconies. Indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, a spa and several bars and restaurants complete the five-star offering.
Fronted by palm trees and without neighbors for a mile (1.6km) in each direction, this ocean-facing resort feels like a desert-island getaway. It’s perfect for families, with light-filled rooms and suites to sleep in and an ancient ruin-themed water complex with a lazy river, tunnel and waterfall, as well as indoor and outdoor pools to enjoy. Golfers are also well-placed, with the Pine Lakes Country Club and several other premium courses easily reachable on foot. The Cypress Room serves hearty breakfasts, and the poolside Tiki Hut does a great fish taco.
Impressionistic murals of palm trees, kitchenettes, work desks and retro-orange ergonomic chairs feature in every room at this Charleston base. At Ripley Grill & Bar, build your favorite breakfast omelette and take on the “Lowcountry Loaded Fry” for lunch or dinner – a belt-stretching feast of skin-on fries heaped with black beans, onions, peppers, bacon, cheese and pico de gallo. Other on-site amenities include a well-stocked grocery store, an inviting outdoor pool and a small gym. Charleston’s Historic District is a five-minute drive away.
Rooms at this elegant extended-stay mansion have marble-patterned headboard walls, whitewashed decor and self-catering facilities; guests cooking in can also have groceries delivered to their rooms. Situated in the heart of the history-filled Ansonborough neighborhood, it’s two doors up from the affiliated raw bar and seafood specialist Delaney Oyster House.
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