The Top Historic Luxury Hotel in Charleston
The Story of Planters Inn in Charleston, South Carolina
FROM LUXURY GOODS EMPORIUM TO BELOVED BOUTIQUE HOTEL
Holding court in the very heart of Charleston's famed Historic District, the 64-room Planters Inn is the city's iconic grande dame hotel. Here, uniformed doormen welcome every arrival, ushering guests inside the gloriously restored circa 1844 building to a sanctuary of refined beauty and genteel service.
Unlike many modern hotels, Planters Inn is an artfully preserved architectural treasure that offers an experience "akin to an overnight with well-to-do friends in their old Charleston mansion," according to Travel + Leisure magazine, which bestowed the #1 Best U.S. Boutique Hotel Award on Planters Inn in 2014. To stay at the Planters Inn is to be swept back to a period of discovery and grandeur. It’s a world of civility, sumptuous cuisine, and cultural pursuits.
BUILT IN 1844
The hotel’s handsome building at the corner of Meeting and North Market streets traces it roots to a popular late 1800s emporium favored by fashionable Charlestonians for its fanciful little luxuries—harmonicas, sailor caps, whalebone petticoats, paper doilies, and such.
To safeguard the property’s historic character and significance, the emporium owner’s heirs placed an easement on the building with Historic Charleston Foundation in 1982, ensuring it would forever be protected, structurally and superficially.
By the 1990s, however, the grand façade held the patina of its former splendor while the rest of the property yearned for attention.
TRANSFORMED IN THE 1990s
Inspired by the cultural reawakening that occurred simultaneously to Charleston’s physical rebound following Hurricane Hugo’s devastating landfall in 1989, an ardent preservationist set his sights on 112 North Market with the sole goal of creating the finest historic hotel in the South.
What transpired was a meticulous, multi-million-dollar restoration and renovation that recaptured the building’s original joie de vivre and resulted in an instantly beloved boutique hotel with sweeping piazzas, a palmetto-shaded courtyard, spacious guest rooms, and distinctively residential details—the perfect encapsulation of true, classic Charleston style.
Planters Inn was firmly established as a four-diamond AAA property.
Upon its completion, Charleston’s esteemed Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. wrote, “I am very pleased you have been able to so quickly renovate the Planters Inn... you have reestablished the project’s reputation as one of the finest inns in Charleston... Again, congratulations. You are part of what makes Charleston a truly alluring and unique place.”
In a city that emanates stately Georgian Era elegance, Planters Inn is no exception.
Guests are welcomed into an intimate parlor, a jewel-box-like setting similar to the exquisite sitting rooms found in Charleston’s famed historic mansions. This sumptuous sense of arrival was the vision of the incomparable Amelia Handegan, the nationally-acclaimed designer whose imprint on Planters Inn is unmistakable.
With its soaring ten-foot ceilings, dozens of working fireplaces, silk window dressings, heart pine floors, and stunning collection of antiques as well as Baker Historic Charleston décor, Planters Inn transcends a typical hotel experience.
Hushed tones of buttercream, Lowcountry greens, and pale powder blue create a tranquil environment, with a stately four poster bed in every guest room.
There’s also more to Planters Inn than meets the eye: A hidden courtyard illuminated by flickering carriage lanterns provides a beguiling entry to Peninsula Grill, Charleston’s most romantic dining experience.
ON THE MAP
Relais & Châteaux, the exclusive collection of independently-owned luxury boutique hotels and gourmet restaurants located in the world’s most romantic, most cultured, and most memorable destinations, is known its strict admission standards.
Prospective and current Relais & Châteaux members are evaluated by the the “Five Cs”: character, courtesy, calm, charm, and cuisine.
In addition to luxurious facilities, members must have unique features distinguishing them from chain hotels. Most of them are historic landmarks such as castles, manor houses, or townhouses in idyllic settings and offering exquisite cuisine.
With the successful transformation from 19th-century luxury goods emporium to luxury boutique hotel complete, Planters Inn was invited to become a member of Relais & Châteaux. Today, Planters Inn and Peninsula Grill remain the only members of Relais & Châteaux in South Carolina.
WHAT'S IN A NAME
Charleston’s original Planters Inn opened in 1803 “to accommodate country gentlemen and their families with boarding and lodging.” Its proprietor advertised Planters Inn as a place where the “larder will always be furnished with the best the markets afford, and… liquors will be genuine and of the first quality."
In 1806, an enterprising woman acquired the original Planters and reportedly "spared no pains nor expense" to ensure the hotel befitted "reception of the gentlemen planters from the country, as also for the citizens of Charleston, in a style that unites comfort, neatness, and convenience."
The upscale hotel was a resounding success, and within three years it relocated to the “large and commodious house at the corner of Church and Queen streets” otherwise known as the Dock Street Theatre, site of the first permanent playhouse in America.
Frequented by famous guests and wealthy Charlestonians alike, Planters Inn thrived until 1855.
The vision and ethos for Planters Inn as a place offering the finest accommodations, food and drink, comfort, and style was rekindled a century later with the opening of Planters Inn at 112 North Market Street.
“It is a fantasy realized when you can experience three of life’s greatest passions—exploring culture, travel, and food—in the grandest style imaginable via Relais & Châteaux.”