Every historic town needs a grand hotel which looks the part and for those visiting Charleston, the Belmond Charleston Place does not disappoint.
This apparent antebellum jewel was actually built a little over 30 years ago on a derelict parking spot, with a view to revitalising the city’s downtown.
In that, it has succeeded in spades. Standing opposite Charleston’s old city market hall, now a big draw for shoppers, the five-star hotel is within easy strolling distance of the historic waterfront neighbourhood which feels a world away from the slightly frenetic tourist centre.
Now owned by Belmond, the former Orient-Express group, Charleston Place has undergone a $40 million, four-year renovation which preserves all its original old-world splendour, including the central wow factor, a grand double staircase in Southern “open-arm” style framing a 12 foot wide Venetian chandelier.
The hotel’s 434 spacious guest rooms have also been allowed to retain their traditional accoutrements while being upgraded with the technology expected of today’s luxury hotels - one-touch lighting, high-speed internet and giant flat screen TVs.
Decor is a subtle blend of neutral shades, and Carrara marble bathrooms are suitably palatial - even the vanity units are marble, with crystal knobs, while the mirrors are antiqued with silver leaf.
Only the Club Lounge slightly disappoints compared with the exclusive access areas offered in other top-end hotels; the free bites here can’t compete with outside offerings in a city famous for its gourmet Southern food.
The city’s best restaurant, the spectacular and elegant Charleston Grill, is right on the premises, with vegetable dishes amongst the finest on the menu. It would be a shame to miss Le Farfalle, the buzzy modern Italian eatery just a couple of minutes’ walk round the corner too.
There’s also a full-service spa and rooftop indoor pool, although sightseeing is likely to be higher on most guests’ agenda.
Start by going out of the hotel’s back door and crossing the road to KKBE, as Charleston’s historic synagogue, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, is known. Founded in 1749, it’s worth a visit for its striking murals and the elegant sanctuary where services are held.
Visitors are welcome to attend alongside this thriving community - befitting a town which in 1800 was home to the largest Jewish population in America.
The hotel can also arrange walking tours of the downtown area geared to Jewish interest with historian Ruth Miller to discover some history alongside your luxury.
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