Frequent Inviato contributor, Romi Howard (and Chef of Romi’s Table) was seeking a quick and easy weekend getaway to spend some quality time with her husband in November. After coming off the completion of a 6-month gut renovation of their apartment, finishing the NYC marathon (her 3rd!) and harboring an Australian transfer student for six weeks in a tiny makeshift rental in the middle of it all, she needed to restore and indulge.
What a better place to set sights on than Charleston South Carolina, ranked last year as the World’s Best City by Travel & Leisure. A city that is often defined by its Southern charm, cobblestone streets, and antebellum architecture, Charleston is now also a well-acclaimed foodie destination.
We had major time constraints this year so our usual far-flung destinations were all ruled out. A recent article on Charleston in Town and Country magazine left us intrigued. The 90-minute flight from JFK paired with a last-minute decision of our friends to join in on the fun sealed the deal. After all, Charleston’s reputation is predicated on its myriad food selection, and its dedication to libations whereby the local mixologists are revered like royalty. We figured this place was best enjoyed with another couple.
It was then time to select a place to stay. While there were plenty of compelling hotel choices in Charleston to choose from (Belmond Charleston Place, the Spectator, The Restoration and Zero George to name a few), we ultimately decided on the newly opened The Dewberry. I cannot stress enough how right our call was to stay there.
The Dewberry hotel was originally the home of the L. Mendel Rivers federal building, commissioned by JFK in 1964. The building was significantly damaged by Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and left dormant for a number of years until a visionary developer, John Dewberry, bought the building in 2008. After an extensive and painstaking head-to-toe renovation of the property, it was finally opened as The Dewberry in 2016.
As you’re pulling into the property for the first time, you can tell immediately that there’s something special about this hotel. The distinct brick and marble external facade was preserved as was the original wood flooring throughout the hotel and in many instances the original marble (including the outside marble tables where my husband spent much of his time on the phone doing work albeit with a perfectly mixed drink in hand, crafted by the top Charleston mixologist Ryan Casey who holds court at the library bar). But it was the mid-century aesthetic that that especially caught my eye – from the palm-shaped chandeliers to the cherry paneling and funky Poul Kjærholm sofas. Here, they’ve captured and bottled up the 50/60s ‘mad men’ vibe and transformed it to something very current, cool and chic.
I love some of the southern touches incorporated into the hotel as well. Their exceptionally curated in-house mini boutiques, ‘Hunt’ and ‘Gather’ Fieldshop is a hip take on a bait and tackle store, edited by Garden and Gun magazine (an odd mix, Garden & Gun, don’t you think?). You’ll want to buy everything in these outposts.
The Living Room
For me, a hotel is often defined by its bar (if you haven’t already figured it out from my other reviews) and The Dewberry does not disappoint in this regard. The glass-enclosed Living Room, named to feel as such to guests, holds center court in much of the main floor of the hotel and is where the hotel guests and locals come together, particularly at night. Part lounge-gathering spot with a speak-easy vibe/part sophisticated bar (and a beautiful brass one at that), this is the pulse of the hotel and it is always buzzing. I loved it.
Henrietta’s is the hotel’s main restaurant. A mahogany-paneled space in the style of a French brasserie, it is a lovely room. In warmer climates, you can eat outside which I can imagine would be wonderful. We had breakfast here in the mornings. Especially notable was the chicken sausage and, of course, the grits.
The Dewberry Hotel is perfectly situated off-center of Charleston’s downtown district, across Marion Square and within minutes from the best shopping, restaurants and bars. It is close enough that everything is easily accessible to you but removed enough that it is not too hectic.
A shout out is needed for the sublime front of the house service, most notably for their concierge staff headed by the very genial and exceptionally dapper Chief Conciege, Larry Crosby. He was beyond helpful with every request, has an intricate knowledge of the city and was always available at the drop of a hat to do our bidding. The consummate professional with a personalized touch, Larry was a total gem.
There are 155 rooms at the Dewberry, 48 of which are suites. The lead in rooms are the Signature King rooms at 292 square feet. They are a bit small in size but cozy nonetheless and offer adjoining options in this category, which offers a great option for families. At the next major category are the 1-Bedroom Suites. All the one-bedroom suites feature floor-to-ceiling windows and face Marion Square.
We booked a 1-bedroom suite and were very pleased to be upgraded to the highest level category accommodation, the Charleston Flat. These 24 loft-like accommodations are their most spacious rooms at 511 square feet and located on the corner of every floor. Each feature a King canopy bed, glass-enclosed bathroom and in-room bar (curated by the hotel’s Executive Chef).
Our Flat (#604) faced the Ravenal Bridge (the longest cable bridge in the U.S.) and Charleston Harbor. Aside from the outstanding views, the cozy Irish linens, the juxtaposition of Southern charm and modern luxury throughout the room and the feel that you’re in your own ‘flat’ as they are designed to feel like an apartment. But the coolest feature for me about the Flats are the marble-clad bathrooms: the flats are the only rooms with the enormous cast-iron freestanding tubs. Just heavenly.
Other Notable Features
There is both small gym and a spa located on the second floor of the hotel but we did not use either of them during our short stay. Complimentary bikes are also available at the hotel to explore the area. There is a pretty rooftop terrace, which I imagine is wonderful during warm weather – for cocktails or yoga (or both simultaneously).
The Dewberry’s quintessential location, hospitality, and modern/mid-century chic design coupled with old world charm and historical character was a winning combination for us. We absolutely loved it and would heartily recommend it for anyone coming for a visit to Charleston.
Charleston as a destination was a fabulous long weekend getaway and was especially fun with another couple. It’s easy to get to from New York, the Southern hospitality charm is infectious, the food and drinking options are endless, its historical references give it an added character and the people are kind.
Charleston is a great foodie town and there is a dizzying array of outstanding places to choose from. Some that we managed to tackle and highly recommend include:
Halls Chophouse. Old-school steak house with fabulous Sunday gospel brunch. Try to get a table downstairs for the best vibe or in the front room upstairs otherwise you’re relegated to Siberia in the back upstairs.
Fig. Mike lata and Jason Stanhope’s ode to low country cuisine. This restaurant put Charleston on the culinary map and has not looked back since. Try to snag a rezzie at least a month out or you won’t get one. And order the fish stew. It’s magical.
The Ordinary. In my opinion the best restaurant in Charleston and a must on your list. Another Mike lata project. But this is in a former bank located on King Street focusing largely on fresh oysters and seafood. I LOVED this place. The service was sublime as well.
Leon’s Oyster Shop. Do not miss. You must go here once for either brunch or lunch. Serving southern comfort food like char-grilled oysters, fried chicken and brussel sprouts in a renovated garage. Great vibe.
Conversely you can check out 167 raw. But with VERY limited seating and a no reservation policy, you’ll likely be waiting for up to two hours for a table. Nevertheless this place is the real deal so try to get there if you can’t get to Leon’s.
The Obstinate Daughter for brunch or lunch on Sullivan island. Order the boiled shrimp. Order some oysters. Have a Bloody Mary.
Other restaurants to check out include:
Cru Cafe. Casual fare. Go for porch seating.
Hominy Grill. Great for low country shrimp and grits style brunch
Little Jacks Tavern/McCradys Tavern both by native son and culinary maestro Sean Brock. Lively. Great for burgers.
Peninsula Grill. Classic Southern fare. Velvet walls. Go for the 12-layer coconut cake.
Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit. The line out the door is SO worth it and is worth the hype. You can’t not have biscuits while in the south and if you can figure out the day they have the chicken pot pie biscuit, make sure you are in the line waiting for it. The woman who mans the cash is hands down the coolest lady in Charleston.
While I don’t drink coffee, my husband and our friends are HUGE coffee drinkers. Charleston coffee shops are some of the best and coolest out there. These are the big four in Charleston and worth checking out. DO NOT go to a Starbucks when you can hang out here instead. Oh, and buy a hip t-shirt.
Black Tap Coffee. 70.5 Beaufain Street.
City Lights Coffee. 141 Market Street.
Kudo Coffee and Craft. 4 Vanderhorst Street.
The Daily. 652 King Street.
Notable shops that I particularly loved were:
Skinny Dip. 345 King Street. A new concept store (Charleston is the 2nd retail location after Nantucket) with an an eclectic, fun mix of established brands, local designers and kids brands in clothing, home furnishings and artisanal products. The 2nd floor hosts a special spot serving tea, lemonade, coffee and ice cream.
Hamden Clothing. 314 King Street. The Dover street market/former Colette of Charleston. Very well curated, I would shop here all the time if I lived in Charleston.
Worthwhile. 268 King Street. Yet another store that I adored. Unique gifts from laboratory perfumes and Parisian creams and soaps to artisan ceramics and plates and Rick Owens pieces in the back. This shop in a converted feed store knocks it out of the park.
Photos courtesy of Romi Howard and The Dewberry.
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The Dewberry is a Preferred Platinum Property of Classic Travel. Amenities include:
• Complimentary breakfast for two daily
• Hotel welcome amenity
• US$75 hotel credit (or amenity of equal value) for use during stay
• Complimentary in-room Internet
• Room upgrade, subject to availability
• Priority check-in/check-out
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