Nicknamed the Holy City for obvious reasons—like a bevy of charming church steeples that make up the picturesque city skyline—Charleston is also a holy city of eating, with pimento cheese; fried-chicken everything; flaky, buttery, made-from-scratch biscuits; and fresh oysters on every block.
The slew of chefs redefining Lowcountry eats has catapulted the food scene to national fame, one that has attracted long-weekend travelers in droves. Luckily, Charleston’s boutique hotels are also doing big things from a food standpoint; here are five excellent ones to check out—and check into—on your next trip.
The Restoration, located on bustling King Street, mixes Southern charm and modern luxury, and offers a number of fantastic dining options. To start, 20 of the 54 suites are equipped with chef-grade kitchens, meaning you can hire a local chef to prepare a four-course private dinner without ever leaving the room. For breakfast, mark your favorite items on a room-service menu; the next morning, awaken to a curated box from The Rise Coffee Bar, the on-site coffee shop, or mosey downstairs and snag that gourmet sage latte in person. And for drinks, there’s no better place in town than The Watch: Rooftop Kitchen & Spirits, Charleston’s highest rooftop bar and restaurant, which features glorious views and quintessentially Southern nosh like hush puppies with homemade pimento cheese and pepper jelly.
If wine and cheese are your thing, the French Quarter Inn, which offers a complimentary reception every afternoon, is the lodging of your wildest dreams. The hotel, perched steps from the historic City Market, is thoughtful about every element of its food and drink offerings, from the freshly baked cookies in the lobby to the port wine to the handcrafted chocolates from local artisan Christophe Paume, which stand in for routine pillow mints. Don't overlook breakfast either; after all, ham biscuits are the only way to start the day in Charleston.
This 16-room boutique hotel, just minutes from the Cooper River, has a number of gourmet perks, starting with a welcome glass of Zero George's private-label wine or bubbly. Much like the French Quarter Inn, a spread of wine and artisanal cheese takes over the bar every afternoon; in the morning, the same space hosts an upscale continental breakfast spread with local goodies like Callie's biscuits. Guests can also enroll in the hotel’s on-site cooking classes, which include three courses and wine pairings, taught by house chef Vinson Petrillo. If all that DIY gets to be tiring, just settle in at Petrillo’s award-winning Zero Restaurant + Bar, much lauded for its tasting menus.
The Vendue, an art hotel in the French Quarter—with ongoing art exhibitions in the hotel’s common spaces—offers an afternoon Art Reception Hour featuring canapés and wine (daily guided art tours are available at 5 p.m.). Nosh a little, but be sure to save room for chef Forrest Parker's locally sourced, artful bites at the Drawing Room. Or hit up The Rooftop for sunset cocktails, small bites and panoramic skyline views. If you do decide to venture out into the balmy Charleston night, just know that you can partake in the self-serve milk and cookies in the lobby when you return.
Any stay at The Dewberry, a new hotel overlooking Marion Square, involves many gastronomic delights, from a turndown service of freshly baked cookies and chocolate chip cookie brittle to the Living Room’s vast array of craft cocktails, thanks to the leadership of master mixologist Ryan Casey. Casey also runs the bar program at Henrietta’s, The Dewberry’s ground-floor brasserie, which features French fare tinged with Southern influences. Even the minibars have a foodie bent, with tiny shelves stocked with local snacks and brews.
Pack your passport—and an appetite—as we hit the world's hottest culinary destinations on and off the grid all month long. Now Boarding: your next trip to paradise.
Jenn Rice is a food and travel writer constantly traveling for cheese, tacos and kouign amann pastries. Follow her on Instagram @jennricewrites.
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