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Hotel Emeline: High Style and Sweet Surprises

Libby Wiersema Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 30 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.
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Retro, yet modern. Classic, yet nouveau. Relaxed, yet vibrant. Upscale, yet accessible.

Hotel Emeline is an exciting study in contrasts, just like Charleston and its special brand of hospitality. Indeed, a stay at this property embodies the best of what this city has to offer, delving into its storied history and geographical positioning to give guests all the things that landed them here: the culture, the art, the landscape, the elegance, the rusticity, the roots.

While capturing elements of Charleston’s history and natural beauty is something most local boutique properties do well, Emeline distinguishes itself by injecting fun into some of the more ordinary aspects of a hotel stay. A pet-friendly property, the presence of leashed fur-babies is your first hint of just how welcome you will feel here.

Located in the heart of the popular Ansonborough historic district, the hotel (which opened in 2020) is just steps away from the City Market and a short walk to the Battery and King Street shopping. The handsome façade is a nod to its forebears, among them: an 1800s wholesale mercantile owned by Charleston legend George W. Williams, and later, a bank he operated, the door of which serves as the hotel’s main entrance.

 

Interior Treasures
On the other side of that door, guests will find a textured, sensory experience infused with Emeline’s subtly spiced signature scent, gleaming woodwork, chic brass light fixtures, jewel-toned draperies, upholstery and small touches that, collectively, make for a big experience.

To the right, a stylish living room with sofas, chairs and an array of coffee table books makes for an inviting diversion on the way to securing your accommodations. Even the wheelchair ramp is a draw, with its lighted curio filled with natural treasures. A sunny welcome awaits at the front desk, where check-in is executed by a friendly staff proffering glasses of rum punch. An adjacent spiral staircase beckons you to climb to a mezzanine and balcony with a birds-eye view of all the happenings below.

The focal point of the lobby is the Keep Shop, an open space that almost seems carved out of the wood that frames and defines it. Here you’ll find thoughtfully procured fine sundries, many of which are the work of area artisans, designers and crafters.

Dining Pleasures
To the left, alluring aromas of coffee beans and freshly made pastries emanate from the bright and airy Clerks Coffee Company (named for the five clerks Williams brought on as partners in his mercantile business).

On the way to the elevator, you will pass the on-site, Italian-inspired restaurant, Frannie & the Fox, a lively place punctuated by green banquettes, palm print chairs, a bustling bar and a dining room that extends out into the courtyard for al fresco noshing. Among the wood-fired dishes perfect for sharing are expertly blistered pizzas, citrusy olives and mushroom toast with herbed ricotta, as well as large plates built around local fresh fish, poultry, beef and house-made pasta. The kitchen is led by executive chef Tim Morton, formerly of the celebrated Mercantile and Mash in Charleston.

The courtyard stands on its own as a “don’t miss” experience, with its lush foliage, gas lanterns, comfortable seating and double-sided fireplace that blazes in the evenings. Feel a little chilly? Ask for a plush blanket to snuggle in. It’s also the perfect place for cocktails. Take the hallway between the Keep Shop and restaurant to order one from the Foxhole. In the speakeasy tradition, have a seat on one of the four stools, ring the “doorbell” and a panel will open to a bartender ready to take your order—no need to belly up to the bar. Pose for a selfie or have a friend snap a pic to document this amusing hotel feature. There is also a viewing window where you can watch the wood-fired pizzas being slipped in and out of the brick oven while you wait for your libation.

Rooms and Leisure
The whimsy doesn’t end there. The elevators to guestroom floors open to stations outfitted with ice and dispensers with sparkling and still water. Emeline has 212 guestrooms to meet a variety of desires, with premiere rooms and one- and two-bedroom suites. Among the many amenities are custom embroidered linens, spa robes, handheld clothes steamers, Emeline signature bath products, walk-in rain showers and Wild Sam Field Guides to Charleston.

Request a complimentary carafe of coffee delivered to your room each morning. Select a book, settle back on a sofa or in a chair and enjoy a quiet afternoon of reading. Of the suite appointments, the most delightful is old-school cool and trendy: a Crosley turntable and vinyl selection for your musical enjoyment. Nothing elevates morning coffee or a bedtime toast like cranking up some Nina Simone or Al Green.

Exploring Charleston gets the Emeline touch as well, with complimentary custom cruisers for bike excursions. Or opt for a little horsepower (not the carriage kind) by reserving one of the hotel’s house Mini Coopers for an unforgettable Lowcountry adventure—also compliments of Emeline.

Other Spaces
Want to keep up your exercise routine? Hit the fitness center where you’ll find a comprehensive assortment of equipment, including free weights, yoga mats, medicine balls, a Peloton bike and Fitness on Demand, an interactive virtual cardio and strength-training experience.

For doing business, 13,000 square feet of indoor or outdoor meeting space provides plenty of options, including access to the loft and social hall at a neighboring restaurant, Hank’s Seafood, thanks to a special partnership. Milestone occasions get the royal treatment with beautiful event spaces inside and outside for weddings, engagement parties, birthdays and whatever else you feel like celebrating in the Holy City.

Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 30 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.