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Enjoy a Comfortable Stay in Aiken

Bob Gillespie Bob Gillespie
Bob is a former sports writer at Columbia’s The State newspaper. He enjoys golf at South Carolina’s 360-plus courses, and after a round, sampling craft beers from the Palmetto State’s breweries.
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So you’ve decided to make a visit to Aiken, a Southern Living magazine pick for the “Best Small Town in the South.” Your concern, though, may be where to rest for the night (or nights) in a “small town.”

For a community of 30,000-plus residents, Aiken surprisingly has a wealth of brand name hotels, some located conveniently near the heart of its vibrant downtown. Choices include the newly built Holiday Inn Express and Suites, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Howard Johnson by Wyndham, Days Inn Downtown, the close-to-downtown TownePlace Suites by Marriott Aiken on Whiskey Road, Hilton Garden Inn, Country Inn & Suites By Radisson, Hampton Inn and Clarion Inn, as well as a number of budget options.

That said, some visitors might prefer a stay in accommodations that are truly unique to Aiken. And the city has plenty of those, too.

The Inn at Houndslake is perfect for the visitor who loves golf. Staying on the residential property enables guests to play Houndslake Country Club, the city’s only 27-hole golf course and otherwise open only to members. But the Inn has more: 34 rooms, each with original artwork, views of the golf course, phones in both bedroom and bath, tennis courts and pool, plus facilities for business meetings. Three on-site restaurants complete the package.

If the intimacy of bed-and-breakfast lodging is desired, Aiken has a trio of properties to consider. Annie’s Inn B&B is nestled beneath stately oaks with a front porch framed by columns in this Greek Revival plantation home. Each of its four guest rooms has a private bathroom, oriental rug, quilt and feather pillows, plus Italian marble fireplace and seating area. Breakfast is served in the dining room or large country kitchen. A sun porch, rockers, common rooms and a large pool complete the experience.

The 208 Abbeville B&B is within walking distance of downtown’s restaurants and shops, yet sits on two acres of garden property. Lush rooms, porches and breakfasts by local chef Bruce Shipman are all part of the visit.

If dining is as important as where you lay your head, consider the General Elliott Inn, home to a fine dining restaurant where the chefs encourage visitors to watch their food being prepared. The restaurant is open Friday and Saturday nights by reservation. The Queen Anne-style home, which sits on three acres overlooking thoroughbred pastures across from Aiken’s New Bridge Polo Club, exudes peace and tranquility with its gardens and wrap around porch.

Another culinary hot spot is The Willcox, where Executive Chef Ed DeFelice cooks American meals with an international flair. Guests can await their food outside next to the pool or in the cozy lobby before adjourning to the dining room. Guest rooms are luxuriously appointed with high ceilings, crown moldings and restful beds blanketed in cool, crisp linen. Most have fireplaces and marble and white-tiled bathrooms with soaking tubs.

Finally, for a stay combining convenient location, fine dining and luxurious accommodations, the Carriage House Inn seems to check all the boxes. Located in the heart of downtown Aiken, its 37 guest rooms and suites include deluxe queen and premium king beds, and premium king suites offering double whirlpool baths and kitchens. Breakfast is complimentary from 7 - 9 a.m. weekdays and 7 - 10 a.m. weekends.

The Inn at Rose Hill, a favorite site for weddings, also is currently closed for renovations. When open, it offers nine rooms in its Main House with balconies and complimentary breakfast. Its Magnolia Cottage is a 2,500-square foot, three-bedroom, three-bath former guest house available for short- or long-term rentals, with a two-night minimum stay.

Whether in a standard hotel room or a historic inn, staying in Aiken is part of the fun.

Bob Gillespie
Bob is a former sports writer at Columbia’s The State newspaper. He enjoys golf at South Carolina’s 360-plus courses, and after a round, sampling craft beers from the Palmetto State’s breweries.