Surrounded by impeccable gardens, historic mansions and southern charm, it’s hard to leave Charleston, SC off your must-see list.
By Nichole Devolites
When most think of Charleston, SC, they think of seersucker suits, sipping Mint Juleps on hot summer days, rocking in chairs on plantation porches, social affairs and dining on savory feasts. Indeed, Charleston has kept its charm intact but this incredibly historic and romantic town has merged quite well with that of modern-day luxury.
Market Pavilion Hotel
Most people book a room online and have absolutely no interaction with the customer service people until they show up at the front door, ready to check in – this is what I fully expected with the Market Pavilion Hotel. Not so. About a week before the trip, I receive an email from a girl named Melissa. In a non-computer generated email, she welcomed me to the Concierge Services department and wanted to see if there was anything special I needed or any lists of restaurants and sights to see that she could pull for me. Since I really couldn’t think of anything out of the ordinary, I asked her to send me the lists, as I’d like to plan a few things to see and do there. Not only did she produce the lists, she also offered to make all reservations, should any be requested. Immediately, I was pleased to have chosen this hotel.
After a long nine-hour drive to Charleston, I was ready to relax at what was dubbed “the best hotel to stay at in Charleston.” I wasn’t disappointed. At 4pm on Friday, I pulled up to the curb of the hotel on East Bay St., and was greeted by three friendly valets/doormen who made sure my car and my bags were taken care of. Upon entering the Market Pavilion Hotel, I instantly felt like I was taken back to an old smoking room of the 1800s – dark wood paneling, black and white marble floors, fine paintings, crystal chandeliers and heavy drapery. After checking into my room on the Luxury Level, I was torn between wandering about and relaxing in what I can only describe as one of the nicest luxury rooms I have stayed in, in quite some time. I was greeted with a marble bathroom, which was filled with Hermes toiletries; and a four-poster bed in my bedroom.
But with any hotel I stay in, I tend to check out the amenities. This historic building dons a modern secret – the rooftop. Not only does it have a 270 degree view of Charleston, it also has an incredible rooftop bar and infinity pool, which by day allows you to relax and swim and by night, turns into a bar and club – a place I frequented for the duration of my trip.
History, Refinement and Class
Early Friday evening, I decided to explore the streets of Charleston. Very soon in did I discover that beauty was virtually in every direction. So many of the homes, cobblestone streets, alleyways and waterfronts have been in existence since the 1700s. As such, there isn’t a sidewalk, alleyway, driveway, courtyard or house that doesn’t exude beauty and charm – each nook and cranny coming alive with the fragrant smells and vibrant colors of so many different flowers and trees. Entryways to homes are just as beautiful as the alleyways – not one gate is rusted, not one shutter crooked. With more time, I could have spent another day wandering these streets, in search of what beauty was in every corner.
When in Charleston, do as the Irish do.
After a few hours of exploring on my first evening, I stepped into the first eating establishment on the list that my concierge representative Melissa gave me – an Irish pub and restaurant, named Tommy Condon’s. It was there that I experienced a generous amount of the most mouth-watering, slide-right-off-the-bone ribs I have ever had. And although I’m not a beer drinker, the menu provided a wide assortment of combination beers, including one that caught my eye – a Crown Float – a combination of Guinness and cider.
Market Pavilion Rooftop Bar
Definitely not one to miss the nightlife, I made sure to frequent this modern-day, upscale nightclub each night I was there. With picturesque night views of Charleston, hip music and an even hipper crowd, this was the spot of all spots to see and be seen.
Experience Southern Charm to its Utmost While Dining at Magnolias
Magnolias is famed in Charleston for providing a fine-dining lunch experience (think two hours) with traditional southern food. Sitting right on E. Bay St., I walked in on Saturday afternoon and it appeared as though almost all diners were native to the area – they still respect fine dining restaurants and dressed as such for the occasion – even for lunch. Many women were in respectable summer dresses and many men were in slacks with jackets – some in seersucker suits and bowties. The conversations were polite and manners impeccable. For lunch, I dined on a popular appetizer called pimiento cheese, followed by a home-style-cooked bacon cheeseburger with sweet potato fries – something that comes with almost all meals in the south, as I discovered. All of it was mouth-watering and amazing.
History and Tradition Run Deep
After lunch, I decided to send myself on a self-guided homes tour around Charleston. So many prestigious residents have graced this town, including Nathaniel Russell, John C. Calhoun, Joseph Manigault and Thomas Heyward – each of which have a distinct style to their architecture and décor. Picture old, dark wood winding staircases, grand-sized portraits in the most ornate gold frames, heavy drapes in rich reds, gold, greens and blues, marble floors, impressive crystal chandeliers and sconces, 360 degree decks on each level of the mansions and perfectly-manicured gardens with beautiful fountains and flowers. Two of the most impressive places to visit were the Nathaniel Russell and Calhoun mansions – both left you daydreaming as to what life would be like in their era, wandering through the garden mazes, taking in the fragrant smells of the flowers and sitting on a bench, under a gazebo enjoying the many water fountains on their properties. Truly, these properties are what put the stamp on being one of the most romantic cities in the U.S.
Shop Like a King (or Queen) on King Street
Known for its high-end boutiques and retail stores, King Street is the place to be if you want the best in luxury shopping. It includes stores, such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton and St. Johns.
To round off my trip, I decided to treat myself to one final great meal. Rated of one of the top 10 best steak places in the U.S., there was no doubt that I had to take the elevator down from my room to the ground floor to experience their award-winning fares. Rivaling the best of Mortons, Smith & Wollensky’s and many other well-known steak places, Grill 225 was quite far from a disappointment. I dined on Filet Mignon, scalloped potatoes and asparagus – all of which was cooked to perfection.
As I drove off Sunday morning, heading back to what I now consider a very “northern” part of Virginia, the valet tipped his hat, thanked me for staying with them and said, “Please come back and visit us again.” With how many times I’ve heard that statement and have never responded, this time, I verbally agreed.
To make reservations at Market Pavilion Hotel call: +1 877-440-2250