Historic, yet hip. Refined, yet relaxed. Lively, yet laid-back.
An up-and-coming generation of Charleston hotels is blending traditional elegance, contemporary ambience, artistic flare – and a few surprises – for a multidimensional effect that’s redefining the overnight experience for visitors. While there will never be a shortage of comfy rice beds and turndown packets of benne wafers for travelers seeking a conventional stay, this current breed of properties is as interesting as some of the sights on your itinerary. The Restoration is a stunning example, a meticulously envisioned destination that aims to deepen the Charleston experience by offering cultural, social and distinctive hedonistic pleasures rich enough to tempt you to skip an outing or two to enjoy the amenities and more.
It won’t take you long to get the double entendre behind the name of this hotel, where restoration efforts extend beyond the architecture to encompass the body, soul and imagination of all who stay here. Five rustic Charleston buildings, adjoining at points between Wentworth and King streets, have been renovated with careful attention paid to preserving historical details while added contemporary touches reflect the modern lifestyle of the “New South.” Being part of the Historic Charleston community is likewise integral to the mission of The Restoration.
“We wanted to be something different, and that included being a good neighbor,” said Karen Winn, director of sales. “You don’t have to stay at The Restoration to enjoy it. Movie nights, rooftop yoga and other fun events are open to the public. We want to interact with the people of this community and be an asset to this amazing city.”
The buildings of The Restoration, dating from 1886 to the 1970s, complement one another while maintaining distinguishing features. This 54-suite property blends the best of old and new with exposed brick, wood floors, plush furnishings, equipped kitchens and luxury baths. If size matters, you’ve got options from 500- to an impressive 2,300-square-feet of stylish digs. At the high end is a gorgeous and roomy three-bedroom rooftop terrace suite – perfect for family getaways or corporate gatherings. High-speed Wi-Fi, smart TVs, personal iPads and Beekman 1802 farm-crafted soaps and lotions are standard perks in every suite, as is a light complimentary breakfast, delivered in a picnic basket to your door.
Guests can soak up some culture at The Restoration’s in-house library, an attractive common space designed for lingering and socializing over wine and port in the evening. Called the “heart of the hotel,” there’s even a librarian on-site to assist you in checking out or purchasing a book from the eclectic selection of titles. In the adjoining art gallery, the walls are brimming with photographs from current artist-in-residence, Ben Gately Williams, whose work captures all the energy of South Carolina living.
Indulge yourself at the small but ethereal Amethyst Spa and Nail Bar. Find a distinctive gift to take home from the hotel’s retail shop, Port Mercantile, and savor the flavor of Toby’s Estate java at The Rise Coffee Bar. For a soothing treat, sip your brew in The Restoration’s quaint, adjacent courtyard. When the South Carolina sun gets to be a bit much, take a cooling dip in the Indigo Pool on the fifth floor. It’s modest size doesn’t invite serious swimming, but the terrace locale and adult vibe make it perfect for socializing and cooling down. Adult beverages optional. For sublime dining, take the elevator all the way to the top to The Watch: Rooftop Kitchen & Spirits, serving farm-to-table New American cuisine and handcrafted cocktails. Sweeping views of the city and stunning sunsets are also on the menu.
Being a guest at The Restoration is as much about the journey as it is the destination. Hop on a stylish Martone bike and cruise the historic district, compliments of the hotel. These strikingly handsome bikes deliver high-fashion mobility on two wheels.
Love classic cars? Then, get ready for a day of thrills behind the wheel. Ask for the Retro Rides package, which gets you the keys to a lineup of sweet rides including a 1966 Ford Mustang Convertible, 1967 Chevy Camaro and even a rare, 1970 280SL. Sweet.
For the adventurer with cash to burn, check out Open Road, a project that hooks you up with the hotel’s very own custom creator of motorcycles, Ivan Remus. An example of his work – a customized 1976 Honda CJ360 – is on glorious display near the hotel’s entrance. A consult will set you back about $500, but will be applied to the total cost of building your dream bike. Impress your friends when you return home with this T-shirt: “I went to Charleston and all I got was this custom-designed, vintage Honda motorcycle.”