The combination of beautiful architecture, cobblestone streets, mature greenery, and an oceanfront location makes for a beautiful backdrop. More importantly, I was curious about the “Southern Charm” and culinary innovations that I’ve heard so much about. During our recent road trip, Tom and I decided to spend two days in Charleston, which was recently named by Travel and Leisure as the #1 destination city in America and #2 worldwide!
During our two-day visit to Charleston, we stayed at what is arguably THE premier property in the city: Belmond Charleston Place. The beautiful hotel is centrally located in the historic section of Charleston. This provided the perfect home base for our quick trip to the city. Belmond Charleston Place oozes Southern charm and ambiance. Upon arrival, we walked into the lobby and immediately felt we were in the luxurious South. The beautiful lobby showcases an opulent double staircase with a stunning Murano glass grand chandelier serving as the perfect centerpiece. The elegant Thoroughbred Club, located at the edge of the lobby, serves craft cocktails and snacks during the evening.
The property is currently undergoing some renovations. The most recent completion is the Club Level lounge that opened six weeks before our arrival. The top two floors of the hotel are dedicated to Club Level guests, and we were lucky enough to stay in one of these exclusive rooms. Belmond Charleston Place is a fabulous luxury property; however, for an additional indulgence, we highly recommend an upgrade to the Club Level. Throughout the day, there are regular food and beverage options available, all of which are included with the room rate. It’s the perfect place for guests to have breakfast, relax for afternoon tea, have a pre-dinner cocktail, or have a sweet treat before retreat for the night. The hotel plans to have an expanded fitness room, pool deck, and bar completed by November. Plans include construction of a sports bar and raw bar dining option.
After checking in and having an aperitif at the Club Lounge, Tom and I decided to explore Charleston on foot. Once again, we have to emphasize how perfect the hotel location is in the city. We were able to see the historic district by wandering the streets. It was great fun to see the beautiful, historic buildings and homes in person. The grand trees framing the cobblestone streets were a fantastic sight to see. We realize it’s a very touristy thing to do, but it was enjoyable walking through the City Market and seeing all of the vendors. We also had fun meandering through the shops selling the touristy type of goods.
If you’ve been following us, you know what interests us are food and beverages. On our evening stroll, we decided to veer off the beaten tourist track and dine at Xiao Bao Biscuit. This was a huge surprise. We thought this self-proclaimed Asian Fusion restaurant would serve typical fare. Not so much. Tom had Chang beer from Thailand (the only time we saw this brand was in Thailand)! I had a cocktail featuring Sichuan peppercorn-infused gin, lemon ginger beer, and house-made orange bitters. The cocktail wasn’t like anything else I’ve tried. The balance of flavors was terrific, and the spice was more of the numbing sensation from the peppercorns. For my meal, I had a papaya salad. I was slightly disappointed because it wasn’t spicy even though it is advertised as such. Everything else about the salad was terrific. Tom enjoyed his chili cumin lamb stir-fry. If you’re looking for an Asian food fix that has unique offerings, we highly recommend dining here.
The second day started with a morning run along the waterfront and through the streets of Charleston. After a quick breakfast in the Club Lounge, we set off to explore the surrounding area. One thing that interested us in Charleston were local distilleries. Downtown Charleston features two: Charleston Distilling Co. and High Wire Distilling Co. Unfortunately, we didn’t taste spirits from either place as they both require a tour lasting 45-60 minutes before tasting. Due to our limited time, we decided to skip these places.
Instead, we took a beautiful 30-minute drive to Firefly Distillery on Wadmalaw Island. At Firefly, we didn’t have to take a tour. It was a straight tasting of several tasty moonshines. The plain moonshine was a bit harsh, but I loved the lemonade and strawberry flavors. A fun side note: we didn’t buy any as we thought it was pricy at $20 per “mason jar.” However, in Albuquerque, we stopped at a liquor store and found a jar of cherry moonshine retailing at under $10. We bought a jar of South Carolina moonshine for half-price in New Mexico!
Our final outskirt exploration was of Isle of Palms, SC. It’s a fun beach area located a mere 15 minutes away from the heart of Charleston. We snacked on delicious clams, oysters, and fried green tomatoes at Acme Lowcountry Kitchen. We also happened to catch happy hour where all top-shelf spirits are $5. Tom and I each had a Grey Goose Martini for $5. Crazy!
Upon our return to Belmond Charleston Place, we walked around the city and enjoyed terrific window-shopping and people watching. For dinner, we decided to dine at the property’s (and one of Charleston’s) premier restaurants: Charleston Grill. The restaurant, a AAA Four Diamond Award winner for food excellence, employs 16 sommeliers/sommeliers in training, in roles ranging from busser to sommelier. Charleston Grill prides itself as being an excellent place for people to craft their trade. We sipped on amazing wine (of course) and dined on a tasty selection of foods including crispy sweetbreads, Charleston Grill Crab Cake, Seared Foie Gras, and asparagus. And for dessert, we had the decadent Molten Chocolate Lava Cake. Since it was our final evening, we went all out and finished with a nightcap at the hotel’s Thoroughbred Club for a fantastic craft cocktail. Tom had a Blood Orange Boulevardier, and I had a spicy version of a French 75 concocted off the menu per my request. I think it was so tasty it should be added to the menu and named after me!
Alas, our two perfect days in Charleston came to a quick close. Tom and I had a fantastic time staying at Belmond Charleston Place and exploring the city and outlying areas. We feel Charleston is deserving in its’ award and highly recommend a visit to this incredibly friendly and traditional yet surprisingly diverse city.
Virtuoso Amenities for your stay
- Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
- Full Breakfast daily for up to 2 in-room guests, served in the restaurant
- USD 100 Food & Beverage credit, to be utilized during stay (not combinable, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
- Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
Traveling to Charleston or other destinations in the future? Contact Us for additional information or booking needs.