Stepping off bustling North Market Street into the Planters Inn is like stumbling upon your own secret oasis. The immediate calm of the elegant lobby is merely a precursor to the tranquility of the garden courtyard, where, enchanted amid the lush greenery, you are likely to forget you have a hotel suite waiting to be explored.
This AAA Four Diamond hotel isn’t just another luxury stay in a city full of them. For one, it’s the only Relais & Châteaux hotel in South Carolina—a designation reserved for the likes of Blackberry Farm. Two, it has accolades galore, including being named a top Charleston hotel for more than ten years in Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards. And three? Well, its signature restaurant, Peninsula Grill, serves arguably one of the best coconut cakes in the country (a twelve-layer, fresh strawberry–adorned, exceptionally moist beauty recommended by the likes of Martha Stewart and Bobby Flay).
But the sixty-four-room hotel didn’t earn the title of “Charleston’s Grande Dame” overnight. The original Planters Inn opened in 1803, several blocks away from the current building, enjoying much popularity until it fell into disrepair after the Civil War. In 1983, the hotel moved to its current location, a historic property that was once a luxury goods emporium. But it wasn’t until after Hurricane Hugo devastated Charleston in 1989 that the Planters Inn became an award-winning luxury boutique hotel. The widespread destruction spurred preservation and restoration efforts across the city and led to the inn’s 1994 multimillion-dollar grand reopening. Handcrafted four-poster beds from the Baker Historic Charleston collection and plenty of artful touches, such as prints of the Lowcountry marshes, impart classic Charleston elegance.
While its stunning interior is a high point, the inn’s location in the heart of town is one of its biggest draws. Visitors may easily traverse the city on foot—or by horse and carriage for the true Charleston experience (tours depart just steps from the hotel).You’ll surely work up an appetite, but you don’t have to go far for exquisite dining. Enjoy dinner in the Four Diamond Peninsula Grill courtyard under twinkling strings of lights, or opt for the romantic dining room. To name a must-try dish would be to cite the entire menu, but a few all-stars would be the she-crab soup, oysters from the champagne bar, pan-roasted scallops, and juicy filet cooked to perfection.
Which brings us back to that coconut cake. There’s no better way to end the day—and your stay—than with a slice of the famous dessert and a glass of bubbly in the dreamy courtyard garden. Yes, you’re mere feet from Charleston’s main tourism hub, but if you can eliminate the crowds while still enjoying the convenience (and a whole lot of class), it makes for a sweet vacation indeed.
112 North Market Street, Charleston, South Carolina 29401 • (843) 722-2345 • plantersinn.com
While You’re There
The Gibbes Museum of Art has been a Charleston institution since it was built in 1905, but a multimillion-dollar renovation in 2016 breathed new life into the historic museum. While you’re there, check out the Rauschenberg in Charleston exhibition through January 5, featuring photographs of the city taken between 1952 and 1981 by one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, Robert Rauschenberg.
This article appears in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue of Southbound.