What's the Pee Dee? It's a question raised a lot by visitors traveling through the state. Simply put, it's a seven-county region in northeastern South Carolina named for the Native American Pee Dee tribe that once lived there. Known for its natural beauty, the area is a network of lush waterways, state parks and other natural areas. It's also home to several dynamic small towns, some of which are destinations in and of themselves. Planning a Pee Dee visit? Here are three boutique hotels where you'll find a warm welcome, pampering appointments and easy accessibility to downtown happenings.
With the inception of ArtFields, a nationally popular, springtime art competition, Lake City has become a destination for travelers far and wide. The farming town is small, but its appeal is big, especially for art lovers and those with an interest in South Carolina agri-history. Erecting a boutique hotel in the heart of downtown was a bold move in this former hub of tobacco and bean commerce, but one whose time has come.
Inn at the Crossroads - so named as it is located at a midway point between Columbia and Myrtle Beach - delivers urban luxury amid the quaint, humble charm of Lake City. From the moment you walk in, you'll be struck by the artsy vibe and the contemporary décor of its common areas. Guest rooms are outfitted with plush bedding and spacious baths; suites have refrigerators and microwaves as well as comfy sitting areas.
Notable features: Fitness center, banquet and meeting rooms; within walking distance of shops and eateries.
Dining: The onsite restaurant, Lake City Bistro, serves dinner Tuesday through Saturday. The upscale, artsy dining room adjoins to a beautifully landscaped outdoor dining courtyard. Enjoy an inspired menu of Lowcountry dishes crafted to reflect the agricultural roots of the area.
Downtown revitalization has breathed new life into Florence, and the addition of this hotel has helped drive the effort. The bustling railroad town, home of the SC Pecan Music and Food Festival, is the county seat and has long served as the Pee Dee's hot spot for shopping, dining and entertainment. You can now find all three just steps from this hotel's front door.
If you want an upscale lodging experience along with a Southern welcome, this is your place. Whether you stay for one day or several, chances are you'll be on a first-name basis with staff members before check-out. Exposed brick hearkens back to the building's 1920s hardware-store roots. Guest rooms are designed for pure comfort with fine bedding, nightly turndown service and room service. The experience is all luxury, but without the stuffiness prevalent in some metropolitan hotels.
Notable features: On-site day spa, penthouse suite with rooftop terrace, business center; within walking distance of art galleries, restaurants, wine bar, brewery, coffee houses, shopping and the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center.
Dining: Victor's is the on-site fine dining restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. The bar is a popular spot for socializing or grabbing a casual bite to eat. Treat yourself to the Bloody Mary bar during Sunday brunch.
Downtown Hartsville is a treasure trove of mom-and-pop gift shops, boutiques and eateries. Home of Coker College, this lively city is a vibrant mix of things quaint and cultural. Hartsville is also the birthplace of Sonoco, a Fortune 500 packaging company which began as Southern Novelty Company, established by Maj. James Lide Coker in 1899. Historical homes and buildings make this one of the loveliest downtown areas in the Pee Dee. The Mantissa's brick facade accentuates these vintage aspects of the town, though streamlined accommodations are modern and creature-comfort centric.
Each of Mantissa's 17 suites is uniquely designed and outfitted with lavish appointments such as walk-in closets, Sleep Number adjustable beds, Smart TVs, blackout shades and marble baths. These are luxury digs you'll want to savor. Fully stocked kitchens are standard, too, but there is plenty of dining just steps away so you don't have to rattle your own pots and pans.
Notable features: On-site full-service medical and health spa, special event and business meeting rooms and a balcony suite; steps away from dining, shopping, bars, a bookstore, wine store, a vintage movie theater, and performing arts venues at Coker College. A short drive to gorgeous Kalmia Gardens is highly recommended.
Drinks and eats: Enjoy cocktails and views from the hotel's rooftop bar. Dine across the breezeway at Sam Kendall's, serving steaks, seafood and more in an upscale/casual atmosphere. Tuck into a luscious lobster roll and, for dessert, to-die-for creme brulee.