Are you planning a trip to Charleston, SC? From its beautiful historic districts, cobblestone streets, and stunning waterfront views – there’s no doubt that it is one of the most charming cities in America. With so many options for places to stay while visiting this wonderful destination, how do you decide which area and hotel best meets your needs? Don’t worry – we’re here to help you plan the best possible vacation! In this blog post we will cover some of the best areas and hotels to stay in Charleston SC, ranging from modern luxury resorts with pools and top-notch amenities to budget-friendly boutique stays near all the action. Whether you’re traveling solo or bringing your entire family along on vacation, read on to find out our favorite places to rest your head during your visit!
As Charleston’s main visitor magazine (Traveler of Charleston), we know Charleston inside-out. The most common question we get is “Where should I stay?” and “What are the top attractions I should see?” Here’s what we suggest:
Best Places to Stay in Charleston
French Quarter/Market District
The French Quarter is a small neighborhood in the historic district of the Charleston Peninsula. Dotted with pastel buildings, cobblestone streets and wrought-iron balconies, wandering around The French Quarter gives a real taste of life here in Charleston as if you stepped back in time! If you’re a first time visitor to Charleston, we highly recommend staying in the French Quarter. It’s picturesque and you will be walking distance to everything you want to see, Rainbow Row, Waterfront Park, Pineapple Fountain and the tours.
French Quarter/Market District Traveler Tips:
For first-time visitors, we recommend staying in this area. You can easily walk to all of the historic district (South of Broad area) where you’ll find The Battery, Rainbow Row, Museums and all of the charming and historic alley-ways that make Charleston so special.
By staying in this area you won’t need to use Uber or a car since everything is so walkable. Check-out this Getting Around Charleston article. To get around the historic district there is a free trolley provided by the city. Here the link to the Downtown Area Shuttle ( DASH)
Tours and things to do in this area
This area is also full of the city’s most historic and important museums. If your staying in the French Quarter, you must walk to visit Rainbow Row, Waterfront Park and the Pineapple fountain. If this is your first time to the Holy City, we recommend starting with a guided tour. Whether it’s a carriage tour with Palmetto Carriage or a walking tour with Bulldog tours, these tour guides dive deep into the rich history of the most well-known historical sights ,but also the hidden gems that only the residents know are there. Paid attractions to see include: Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon, Old Slave Mart Museum, Nathaniel Russell House, Heyward Washington House, Gibbes Museum of Art, and the Powder Magazine. We recommend grabbing a TourPass for the number of days you’re staying. It will give you admission to all the must see attractions and tours in the city, making it super easy to look up times and make reservations (for tours that require it) and will save you some money too.
French Quarter/Market District Recommended Hotels:
Luxury Hotels – ($400+/night)
Loutrel – The Loutre is a luxury boutique hotel that has 50 rooms and suites, from traditional king accommodations to the premier suite. The hotel was just named the No. 1 Charleston hotel in Travel + Leisure’s 2022 World’s Best of Awards. A rooftop terrace overlooking the city skyline is the perfect spot to enjoy a glass of wine. Check availability.
Market Pavilion Hotel -Opened in 2002 one block from Charleston Harbor, this four-story granite hotel has gas lanterns, mahogany foyers, and crown moldings that recall the late-nineteenth-century South. The hotel boasts an Upscale Steakhouse, Rooftop bar and pool with wonderful city views. Check availability
Charleston Place – Designed to complement Charleston’s historic architecture, the hotel breathed new life into the city. Together with its amazing restaurants, cocktail lounge, spa, pool and retail shops, Charleston Place has won the hearts of vacationers. Check availability.
Mid-Level Hotels: ($200-$400/night)
Emeline: While the warm hospitality from the staff is sure to steal the show, Emeline also offers visitors and guests unique features and refined touches found only in a luxury lifestyle hotel in Charleston. Check availability.
Vendue – The Vendue is Charleston’s art hotel. Home to original artwork, superb dining, and a collection of rooms and suites located in two historic buildings. Is has one of the best rooftop bars in Charleston with amazing views of Waterfront Park, Charleston Harbor and surrounding historic properties. Check availability.
The Mills House –Charleston’s iconic pink hotel, and now part of the Curio Collection by Hilton, has reopened after a extensive multi million dollar face lift, including new rooms, guest amenities, gathering spaces, and culinary concepts. The renovated rooftop pool and terrace features drinks, light plates, chaise lounges and poolside cabanas. Check availability.
Church Street Inn – The Church Street Inn, Ascend® Hotel Collection, offers townhouse-style accommodations in downtown Charleston. Hotel amenities include free WiFi throughout the hotel and an onsite fitness center. After a long day of touring, relax in the Wagon Wheel Lounge or the open-air courtyard. Check availability.
Meeting Street Inn – The Meeting Street Inn offers peaceful and affordable accommodations with 19th century style rooms with 4 post beds and free wi-fi. An enclosed garden courtyard is available to all guests throughout their stay. Guests can also take advantage of the free continental breakfast, complimentary reception each evening, which includes wine and hor d’oeuvres. Check availability.
Budget Hotels: ( Under $200/night)
Marion Square/Market District
Marion Square is in the heart of downtown Charleston, SC. Staying in a hotel around Marion Square or Central Charleston will put you right in the middle of the shopping area, restaurants, nightlife, holiday markets, concerts, art galleries and festive events. Although the French Quarter/ Market area is our first choice, you can still walk to all the historic locales from this area such as the Battery and South of Broad; however it will add another 10 minutes or so to your walk.
Marion Square/Central Charleston Recommended Hotels
The Dewberry – The Dewberry Charleston boasts 154 guest rooms of luxury with floor-to-ceiling windows, mini-bars, flat-screen TVs, free toiletries, slippers, and Vermont Marble accents. Guests can be pampered at the Spa, visit the fitness center or library and cap off the night with a citrus themed cocktail at the rooftop bar with breathtaking views. Check availability.
Hotel Bennett – Refined elegance and gracious hospitality come to life at Hotel Bennett. Situated on historic King Street, the prominent entrance overlooks iconic Marion Square. Enjoy luxurious accommodations, amenities, dining experiences, spa and a fabulous roof top pool. Check availability.
Embassy Suites – The hotel is in the original Citadel Military College in the heart of historic downtown and adjacent to Marion Square. It is an all-suite hotel and on the National Register of Historic Buildings. Enjoy their free made-to-order breakfast, complimentary evening reception and outdoor pool. Check availability.
Francis Marion – Rising 12 stories above the Historic District, the hotel offers spectacular views of Charleston’s church steeples, historic mansions, and famous harbor, It is one of the Historic Hotels of America. From the moment you walk into the lobby, you are transported to another time. On site amenities include a full-service spa, on-site restaurant serving classic Southern cuisine, Starbucks, and 18,000 square feet of meeting space. Check availability.
Hyatt Place – Charleston District – Hyatt Place is right on King St. There’s an indoor pool, workout room, a huge space for meetings and complimentary breakfast every morning. The view just keeps getting better as you go up, so request a room on a higher floor. Check availability.
Hotel Bella Grace – This boutique hotel offers 50 different rooms, 35 of which include built-in kitchen amenities. Although independently owned and managed, it falls under the Marriott umbrella. ( Complete with Bonvoy perks). Guests can enjoy enjoy a hot breakfast included with the room rate and free wi-fi. Check availability.
Downtown Charleston - West Side/Ashely River Side
The West Side of downtown Charleston borders the Ashely River. While this area is beautiful, the ability to walk to desired attractions in the historic district will take you about 20 minutes each way. If you are willing to ride the Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) it does stop at different locations here and will take over to the historic district for free. The benefit of staying on the West side is that hotels are that your still downtown and the hotels are more affordable.
Downtown Charleston West Side Recommended Hotels
There are no Luxury Hotels on the West Side.
Hilton Garden Inn – Downtown Charleston – Located near the charming Ashely River Marina, the Hilton offers spacious rooms, free parking and wi-fi, an outdoor pool, onsite restaurant and a complimentary shuttle service to Charleston Historic District (1.5 miles away). Check availability.
Courtyard Charleston Waterfront – Downtown Charleston – This waterfront hotel is located overlooking the Ashley River and it’s marina. It’s about 2 miles from the historic downtown. It has a spacious outdoor pool that overlooks the river, a casual restaurant serving bistro classics and there is free parking. Shuttle service to the historic district is available for a fee. Check availability.