The Grande Dame of Charleston Hotels
CLASSIC STYLE & TIMELESS GLAMOUR
Discover the storied history of Planters Inn.
What's in a Name
In 1803, with a simple promise “to accommodate country gentlemen and their families with boarding and lodging” with a “larder always furnished with the best the markets afford and… liquors genuine and of the first quality," Charleston’s original Planters Inn opened its doors and became an instant sensation.
By 1806, an enterprising woman with an eye for expansion acquired Planters Inn 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."
Frequented by famous guests and notable locals, the upscale Charleston hotel was a resounding success and thrived for 50 years.
Winds of Change
In 1989, Charleston endured a devastating direct hit from Hurricane Hugo, a Category 4 storm with 140 mph sustained winds and gusts up to 160 mph. The massive storm caused $9.47 billion in damage, making it the most damaging hurricane ever recorded at the time.
Life on the historic Charleston peninsula was irrevocably altered.
In the days leading up to Hugo’s landfall, a passionate Charleston-born-and-raised preservationist watched the weather reports closely from his home in Atlanta. There was no mistaking the size and scope of the storm and its potential to ravage the Historic District’s irreplaceable centuries-old structures.
By the time the eye of the storm had come ashore and begun to veer toward North Carolina, the preservationist was speeding toward Charleston to check on his childhood friends and survey the damage first-hand. Although he did not know it at the time, the hurricane had called him home.
As the community banded together to restore and rebuild the physical damage caused by the storm, something unexpected—unforeseen—took hold in Charleston: a cultural reawakening.
Inspired, the preservationist set his sights on the handsome building at the corner of Meeting and North Market streets with the sole goal of creating the most beautiful historic hotel in the South—a feat of tremendous historic restoration and a clarion call of resilience to the world on behalf of the storm-battered Grande Dame city.
From Historic Luxury Goods Emporium to Beloved Luxury Boutique Hotel
The expansive building at 112 North Market traces its roots to a popular mid-1800s emporium favored by fashionable Charlestonians for its little luxuries—harmonicas, sailor caps, whalebone petticoats, fanciful paper doilies, and such.
In 1982, the emporium owner’s heirs placed an easement on the then 138-year-old building with Historic Charleston Foundation to safeguard the property’s historic character and significance, ensuring it would be structurally and superficially protected in perpetuity.
By the late 1980s, however, the grand façade held the patina of its former splendor while the rest of the property yearned for attention.
Hurricane Hugo played a fortuitous role in reaffirming Charleston’s widespread commitment to and passion for preservation. Rather than bulldoze storm-damaged dwellings with historic merit, hundreds of large-scale restoration projects took place across the city.
What transpired at 112 North Market 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.
Upon its completion, Charleston’s venerable 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.”
Refined Beauty & Romantic Dining
In a city that emanates stately Georgian Era elegance, the AAA Four-Diamond Planters Inn is no exception. With its soaring ten-foot ceilings, dozens of working fireplaces, silk window dressings, heart pine floors, stunning antiques, and Baker Historic Charleston Collection 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 king bed in every guest room.
Guests are welcomed into an intimate parlor, a jewel-box-like setting similar to the elegant sitting rooms found in Charleston’s famed historic mansions. This beautiful sense of arrival was the vision of the incomparable Amelia Handegan, the nationally-acclaimed designer whose imprint on Planters Inn is found at every turn.
Reigning over the famed Historic District, the 175-year-old Grande Dame hotel holds a secret: A hidden garden courtyard illuminated by flickering lanterns and candles provides a splendid sense of arrival to Peninsula Grill, one of the most romantic dining experiences in the South and the home of the wildly popular 12-layer Ultimate Coconut Cake.
On the Map
By the mid 1990s, with the successful transformation from early 19th-Century luxury goods emporium to luxury boutique hotel complete, Planters Inn was invited to become a member of Relais & Châteaux, the exclusive collection of independently-owned luxury boutique hotels located in the world’s most romantic, most cultured, and most memorable destinations.
In addition to luxurious facilities, members must have unique features distinguishing them from corporate, chain hotels. Many Relais & Châteaux hotels are historic landmarks such as castles, manor houses, or townhouses in idyllic settings.
Planters Inn remains the sole Relais & Châteaux hotel in South Carolina.
“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.”