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The Charleston Guide

Over the course of three centuries, Charleston—one of the oldest, most storied cities in America—has developed a rich culture shaped by a number of historic events (the Civil War commenced at Fort Sumter, for one) and distinct geographic elements (the city is flanked by two rivers and a beautiful harbor on the Southern tip). And due to its compact size, you’ll inevitably stumble on significant sites and the picturesque Charleston single houses, with their piazzas and lace-like facades, simply by taking a post-dinner walk. What’s more, many of the newer restaurants, bars, and shops are housed in old buildings that have been beautifully converted to accommodate modern-day needs—though they still retain the old-world charm that makes Charleston so unforgettable.

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Belmond Charleston Place

205 Meeting St., French Quarter | 855.248.7006

Located on the edge of the French Quarter in downtown Charleston, Belmond Charleston Place is a gorgeous hotel, with very good service. The hotel opens into an expansive marble-floor lobby with a double staircase split by a gleaming chandelier. The rooms, likewise, feel grand. Bonuses include the on-site spa, and a rooftop, heated, saltwater pool made indoor/outdoor by a retractable glass roof.

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The Mills House

115 Meeting St., French Quarter | 1.800.207.4421

Another terrific hotel just off King Street in the historic district area, the Mills has been open since 1853. It's part of the Wydham chain but reads more boutique thanks to its Southern decor. It has an outdoor pool, which is a welcome amenity on a hot Charleston day, and an open courtyard with a romantic fountain at its center. From the Mills, it's an easy walk to drinks at Pavilion and/or dinner at 5Church.

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Planters Inn

112 N. Market St., Ansonborough | 843.751.4485

Planters Inn sits right near Charleston's City Market. The 64-room hotel is a restored 1884 building designed to look and feel like a Charleston mansion. The hotel's beautiful garden was created by landscape architect Sheila Wertimer, whose handiwork you'll see around town. The rooms and suites here feature 10-foot ceilings, custom crown molding, and handcrafted, four-poster beds. Planters Inn is also home to the Peninsula Grill, where you should go for dinner, followed by coconut cake.

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The Restoration

75 Wentworth St., King Street | 843.628.4630

The Restoration is actually made up of five different buildings (one of which dates back to 1822) that served as row houses, a vinyl record shop, a department store, a telegraph office, and a restaurant/bar in past lives. Today, The Restoration's upscale, homey feel sets it apart from other boutique hotels in the city. Staying in one of The Restoration's smartly decorated suites—which combine classic Southern design with clean, modern touches—is almost akin to staying at a really fabulous Airbnb. Everything seems slightly lived in, in the best way—but then you also get the hotel amenities. (Two of the hotel perks here: Coffee from Toby's Estate and a complimentary bike share program.)

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Wentworth Mansion

149 Wentworth St., Harleston Village | 888.466.1886

Proof that you don’t have to go too far to be completely transported, a stay at Charleston’s Wentworth Mansion is the closest one might come to traveling back in time. The 126-year-old property makes exceptional use of its historic elements, opting to set up the spa—where you can indulge in everything from a couple's massage to a detoxifying seaweed wrap—in what used to be the stables and the famed Circa 1886 restaurant in the former carriage house overlooking the garden. Most of the 21 rooms come complete with original fireplaces and porches, while the rooftop cupola offers unbeatable views of the city.

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Zero George

0 George St., French Quarter | 855.284.7961

Zero George Hotel (so-named for its address, which actually is 0 George Street) is made up of five restored historic homes that all face each other around a quaint, landscaped courtyard. Two of them are actually transplants that were moved here from another part of town—ask the concierge for the full story, which is fascinating and fittingly Charlestonian. The buildings have all the charm of old Charleston, but the rooms themselves feel modern, with a neutral color scheme, cozy beds, and big, bright bathrooms, plus verandas for looking out into the common space. The original 1804 carriage house plays host to the lobby and a recently renovated kitchen, where chefs host cooking classes and a wine-and-cheese happy hour that’s an excellent perk of any stay.