8 Best Areas & Neighborhoods
If you’re wondering where to stay in Charleston, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve gathered all the best hotels, inns, rentals, and more for a fun and relaxing trip to Charleston. You’ll find that most of downtown Charleston offers luxury hotels in historic settings, but there is plenty of budget and mid-range hotels in the outlying areas.
Founded in 1670, the “Holy City” of Charleston, South Carolina offers southern hospitality and charm along all its cobblestone streets and historic buildings. The angelic nickname comes from its history of religious tolerance and abundance of churches, temples, and cathedrals.
Charleston combines the wrought iron, lush gardens, and historic streets of New Orleans with the gingerbread trim, narrow alleyways, and tropical touches of Key West.
If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out Charleston native Darius Rucker’s video for “Come Back Song.” You’ll see all sorts of Charleston scenery, including the stunning Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge that connects downtown to Mount Pleasant. Let’s get started!
Getting To Charleston
Charleston International Airport (CHS) is the closest airport to fly into when visiting Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston Airport, located in North Charleston, is about 9.7 miles from downtown Charleston.
Getting Around in Charleston
If you’re planning to stay in Charleston, the Charleston Water Taxi offers service to several attractions around the area. It departs from Waterfront Park, Patriots Point (site of the USS Yorktown site), Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina, and the Maritime Center, which is near the South Carolina Aquarium.
By land, you can use the city transit system, the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA), which provides service throughout the area. The DASH Shuttle also travels to attractions around the area.
1. South of Broad
South of Broad is located south of Broad Street (easy enough). It’s a mostly residential area on the waterfront. The historic and colorful Rainbow Row, located on East Bay Street, is part of this neighborhood.
Where to Stay South of Broad
Two Meeting Street Inn
Two Meeting Street Inn is one of the best places to stay in Charleston for Southern hospitality and a gorgeous setting of antique furniture, wrought iron gates, and lush gardens with live oaks and flowering shrubs.
Guests can enjoy free Wi-Fi, breakfast on the veranda, and antique furniture. It’s near White Point Garden and the Battery.
20 South Battery
Built in 1843, 20 South Battery has 20 luxury rooms. Guest rooms and suites have deluxe bath products, luxury linens, and unique artwork. Enjoy beautiful gardens, wraparound porches, and stunning views.
South of Broad Apartment
This South of Broad apartment is within walking distance to the Battery and King Street. It has two bedrooms and one bathroom and can accommodate three guests. It’s a second-floor unit with a kitchen, living room, and dining area.
Things to do South of Broad
- Check out the historic and perfectly pastel Georgian row houses of Rainbow Row.
- Relax along the waterfront at White Point Gardens, which offers views of Fort Sumter and Charleston Harbor. There’s a gazebo, Civil War cannons, and giant live oak trees.
- Hang out for the sunset along the waterfront near the US Coast Guard Station.
- Visit the Federal and Greek Revival design and antiques at the 1825 Edmonston-Alston House.
- Check out the formal gardens, colonial furniture, and 1740s kitchen at the Georgian-style Heyward-Washington House. Built-in 1772, George Washington actually stayed there (so we’re assuming he slept there, as well). The home was owned by Thomas Heyward, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
- Relax among the peaceful ambiance of stained glass, engraved wood, and gilded accents of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church
- Tour the neoclassical Nathanial Russel House. Located near the High Battery, it was built in 1808, it features a three-story staircase, wood plank floors, and engraved moldings.
- Book a tour of Fort Sumter National Monument.
2. The French Quarter
Settled by French Huguenots in the 17th-century, the French Quarter is home to art galleries, restaurants, and shops. Located within the “walled” city of Charleston, it’s bordered by Meeting, Broad, Concord, and Hasell Streets.
In addition to being the best neighborhood to stay in Charleston for nightlife, the French Quarter is the best neighborhood to stay in Charleston for history, shopping, and dining.
The area gained its name from the large French population that influenced the architecture and local culture. If you’ve been to New Orleans’ French Quarter, you’ll recognize the abundance of wrought-iron architecture and other historic details.
The Port of Charleston is just east of the French Quarter, which makes it convenient if you’re headed off on a cruise.
Where to Stay in the French Quarter
The French Quarter Inn
The French Quarter Inn luxury hotel is just off Market Street. This boutique hotel welcomes guests with custom furniture, luxurious linens, and king suites with balconies, fireplaces, and oversized bathrooms. There’s an on-site restaurant, a conference area, and a fitness room. Enjoy views of the historic district and Charleston City Market. Bicycles are available for borrowing.
The Saint Hotel
Sleek and modern, the Saint Hotel is situated right in the middle of the historic district. Rooms offer free Wi-Fi, daily European-style breakfast, a lobby bar, and a lounge. Enjoy those Cooper River and city center views as you stay in Charleston at this luxury hotel.
Market Pavilion Hotel
The Market Pavilion Hotel has a rooftop bar and pool, a terrace, a restaurant, and meeting rooms. It’s one of the best hotels for walking distance access to historic Charleston City Market, Waterfront Park, the Cooper River, and the French Quarter.
Harbour View Inn
Harbour View Inn has rooms with free Wi-Fi, a mini-fridge, luxury bath products, and waffle-weave robes. Some rooms have 14-foot-tall ceilings, exposed brick walls, and unique artwork. Enjoy amenities such as craft cocktails and nighttime milk and cookies. The rooftop terrace offers stunning views of the harbor, Cooper River, and the historic district
27 State Street
At 27 State Street, a French Quarter bed and breakfast, you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped into an 1800s European setting. Vintage furniture, 100-year-old oak plank flooring, and four-poster beds complete the scene. Enjoy free Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast on the veranda, and gourmet French press coffee. The hotel is within walking distance to Waterfront Park, the King Street antiques district, and most other sites in the historic district.
While built-in 1852, Emeline puts on a modern and contemporary ambiance. It offers free Wi-Fi, a restaurant, a library, a garden, a fitness center, and a spacious outdoor area with a fireplace and seating. Dogs up to 75 lbs. are welcome to stay in Charleston with their human companions. This is one of our favorite pet-friendly hotels in Charleston.
The upscale Loutrel is situated between State Street and Church Street. It offers 50 rooms with choices of king rooms, queen rooms, and suites. Some have balconies and extra seating areas.
Enjoy free Wi-Fi, a welcome cocktail, bicycles to borrow, a fitness center, electric car charging stations, and a complimentary breakfast. Head to the rooftop terrace for panoramic views of the historic district.
The Spectator Hotel
The elegant Spectator Hotel has a Prohibition-style bar, a library, and refined guest rooms with soaking tubs, luxury linens, custom furniture, and balconies. Enjoy a welcome cocktail, free Wi-Fi, continental breakfast, and a Nespresso machine.
Things to do in the French Quarter
- Shop for art, jewelry, sweetgrass baskets, apparel, hats, and more at the Charleston City Market. The market site dates to the 1790s.
- Take a selfie or your next Christmas card photo in front of the pineapple fountain at Joe Riley Waterfront Park. While you’re there, relax on a bench in the park and enjoy waterfront views.
- Check out the stunning architecture of the area churches, Circular Congregational Church, the French Huguenot Church, and St. Philip’s Church.
- Peruse paintings, pottery, portraits, and photography at the Gibbes Museum of Art.
- Learn about history at the Old Slave Mart Museum. Located between Chalmers and Queen streets, it was built in 1859.
- Take a photo on the steps of the stately US Customs House.
3. Harleston Village
Harleston Village covers the areas north of Broad Street to Calhoun Street. It extends west of King Street to the Ashley River.
The College of Charleston is the main event in this area of town, and you’ll see lots of college students heading to class and hanging out. The neighborhood is home to residential townhouses with stunning gardens.
Where to Stay in Harleston Village
John Rutledge House Inn Bed and Breakfast
The John Rutledge House Inn Bed and Breakfast is easy to find. It’s the one covered from gates to balconies with ornate wrought iron. The former home of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, it offers Southern charm in its 19 guest rooms.
Amenities at this downtown Charleston hotel include free Wi-Fi, afternoon tea and hors d’oeuvres, deluxe or continental breakfast, a mini-fridge, and Tempur-Pedic beds.
Some rooms have marble fireplaces, whirlpool tubs, and canopy beds. It’s one of our top choices for the best place to stay in historic Charleston.
Wentworth Mansion, a 19th-century Victorian mansion, features tin ceilings, Tiffany glass, and parquet floors. There are 21 guest rooms and suites that offer free Wi-Fi, a full breakfast at Circa 1886, a mini-fridge, off-site health club access, and evening port, sherry, or brandy. Suites have fireplaces, libraries, and separate sunrooms.
Porticos, piazzas, and Ashley River views await at the historically elegant Belvedere Charleston. Located among historic homes and modern townhouses, this two-bedroom, two-bathroom duplex has a fully equipped kitchen, dining area, and a living area. There’s a private entrance on Queen Street to stay in Charleston at this luxury hotel.
Things to do in Harleston Village
- Walk around the campus of the College of Charleston.
- Visit the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, located within the School of the Arts at the College of Charleston. Check out art and exhibits by new and upcoming artists at this Charleston museum.
4. King Street
King Street is the main shopping drag in Charleston. It’s situated between Broad Street and Calhoun Street and features art galleries, antiques, apparel, locally-owned bookstores, gift shops, and well-known brands like Aeropostale, Quiksilver, and Earthbound Trading Company, Louis Vuitton, and more!
Where to Stay on King Street
Belmond Charleston Place
The Belmond Charleston Place luxury hotel offers several dining options, a fitness center, a full-service salon and spa, and an indoor swimming pool. Choose from club rooms, suites, and junior suites with Juliet balconies, reading nooks, plush sofas, and eight-person dining tables for a family or group stay in Charleston.
Located in the historic district, The Restoration has a restaurant, two bars, an outdoor pool, fitness facilities, a conference area, and a rooftop terrace. Some rooms have a full-size refrigerator, separate seating areas, and adjoining room availability. Charleston attractions are within easy access to this hotel.
Things to do on King Street
- Take in a live music show at the historic Riviera Theater.
- Spruce up your home décor at a wide array of interior design shops.
- Dine on Lowcountry cuisine and seafood at restaurants such as Prohibition, Pour Taproom: Charleston, A.C.’s Bar & Grill, The King Street Public House, and The Darling Oyster Bar.
The Radcliffe-Borough neighborhood is found north of Calhoun Street. It’s surrounded by Rutledge Avenue and St. Philip Avenue and Morris Street on the north.
It’s home to the nightlife and the college life of the Medical University of South Carolina.
Where to Stay in Radcliffe-Borough
493 King Battery
493 King Battery has two bedrooms and two bathrooms and can accommodate up to six guests. This second-floor rental is near all the shopping, activities, and tourist attractions of the historic downtown area and the waterfront. There’s free Wi-Fi and a full kitchen at this downtown Charleston hotel.
Things to do in Radcliffe-Borough
- Visit the Gothic Revival Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul. The Episcopal church was constructed in the 1800s.
- Head across the river to the USS Yorktown at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, the Mount Pleasant Pier, Shem Creek Park, or other attractions in nearby Mount Pleasant.
- While you’re across the river, check out the Cold War Submarine Memorial in Mount Pleasant.
6. The Garden District
Calhoun, King, Mary, and East Bay streets border the Garden District on the central-eastern side of the city.
As the name suggests, the neighborhood is made up of beautiful gardens and parks with river views.
Where to Stay in the Garden District
The Garden District is full of beautiful and historic luxury hotels and inns. It’s one of the coolest places to stay in Charleston. You won’t find budget hotels in this area, but that’s just a good reason to splurge, right?
The Dewberry Charleston
The Dewberry Charleston grand hotel offers spacious rooms in an elegant and modern setting. Enjoy free Wi-Fi, three restaurants, a bar, a fitness center, conference space, and a full-service spa as well as an outdoor terrace and gardens, making this one of the best luxury hotels in Charleston.
Francis Marion Hotel
Francis Marion Hotel, opened in 1924, offers stunning views of the historic district, the harbor, area mansions, and more. Elegant rooms are decorated in soothing shades of blue and include free Wi-Fi, coffee makers, pillowtop mattresses, and cable television. Some rooms offer full kitchens and extra seating areas. There’s an on-site restaurant and a Starbucks for that morning cuppa Joe at this historic Charleston hotel.
Hotel Bella Grace
The boutique Hotel Bella Grace offers free Wi-Fi, a mini-fridge, fitness facilities, and electric car chargers. Historic yet modern in design, it’s located near all the dining, shopping, and attractions of downtown Charleston. Spacious suites have fully equipped kitchens and seating areas.
The Hotel Bennett Charleston offers guests a swimming pool with sun loungers, a fitness center, a restaurant, and free Wi-Fi. There’s a rooftop patio to take in amazing views of the historic district, harbor, and local sites of downtown Charleston. Guest rooms feature elegant furnishings, marble floors, and soaking tubs.
Historic Downtown Cookhouse Apartment in Garden District
If you’re looking for vacation rentals, this historic downtown apartment offers one bedroom and one bathroom. Professionally decorated with antiques and historic brick floors, it can accommodate four people. The outdoor space includes a fountain and a table with an umbrella and seating. It’s near the live oaks and fountains of Wragg Mall, the College of Charleston, and shopping, dining, and entertainment.
Things to do in the Garden District
- Pick up local specialties, crafts, and organic produce at the Charleston Farmers’ Market, located in the six-acre Marion Square. Even when the market is not open, the area is a nice space of green in the city. Events are held there.
- Visit the district’s other parks: Tiedemann Park, Wragg Mall, Vangie Rainsford Park, and Wragg Square.
- View loggerhead sea turtles, river otters, alligators, and more at the South Carolina Aquarium.
- Book a historic horse and carriage ride. Entertaining and knowledgeable guides lead tours around the city while sharing trivia and pointing out the top sites.
- Travel across the scenic Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge to Mount Pleasant while you stay in Charleston. Mount Pleasant offers a small-town feel and laid-back attitude with lots of things to do and sites to see.
6. Cannonborough / Elliotborough
The neighborhood of Cannonbourough/Elliotborough is found along with King, Cannon, and Spring streets (they run parallel to each other). You’ll find boutiques, bakeries, and stores among the laid-back and residential streets, making it one of the best neighborhoods to visit in Charleston if you like a leisurely stroll.
Where to Stay in Cannonborough/Elliotborough
Comfort Inn Downtown
For one of the best Charleston hotels on a budget, you can’t beat the Comfort Inn Downtown. It offers free Wi-Fi, an outdoor pool, a full breakfast buffet, free coffee, a meeting area, and a fitness center. It’s near all the attractions and activities of the historic district.
The Ashley Inn B&B
The Ashley Inn B&B, constructed in 1832, is near the Medical University of South Carolina and King Street. It’s a wonderful place to stay in Charleston for exploring. Rooms feature charming décor, verandas, and four-poster beds.
This serene cottage vacation rental has a beautiful garden and a heated saltwater pool. It has one bedroom and two bathrooms and can accommodate four guests. Relax by the koi pond or have lunch at the outdoor dining table. The interior is bright and modern with stunning wood plank floors, a sleek kitchen, and lots of windows. This is one of the best places to stay in Charleston for couples or small families.
Things to do in Cannonborough/Elliotborough
- Shop for surf ware at Rogue Wave.
- Indulge in a wide selection of sweet treats at Sugar with a stay in Charleston.
- Take a walk, drive, or bicycle ride to the Westside to visit Citadel Military College, Hampton Park, or Joseph P. Riley Park (home of MLB’s Riverdogs)
7. Wagener Terrace
Located at the north end of the city, Wagener Terrace features upscale restaurants, nightlife, and live music as well as craft beer and microbreweries. It’s in the area around Morrison Drive and Meeting Street and is a great choice to stay in Charleston.
Where to Stay in Wagener Terrace
Being more of a residential location, Wagener Terrace doesn’t have the luxury hotels and inns of other neighborhoods, but you’ll find some nice cottages and rental options.
Hampton Inn Charleston – North
The Hampton Inn Charleston – North is a great mid-range hotel to stay in Charleston. There’s an outdoor pool, a business center, and a fitness room. It’s near the airport and North Charleston as well as all the attractions of the historic areas and Mount Pleasant.
Ricehope Place offers two bedrooms and two bathrooms and can accommodate six guests. It’s near all the attractions of the historic district in a quiet setting.
WoodSpring Suites Charleston Airport
While located a bit further up the road in North Charleston, WoodSpring Suites Charleston Airport is a good choice to stay in Charleston due to its airport access and proximity to the historic district and other attractions in Mount Pleasant, Folly Beach, and Kiawah Island. It’s pet-friendly and has a fitness room, full kitchens,
Things to do in Wagener Terrace
- Visit the historic mausoleums and tombs at Magnolia Cemetery.
- Check out the microbreweries, live music, bars, and nightlife along Morrison Drive and Meeting Street.
- Take in a concert, hockey game, or play at the North Charleston Coliseum & Performing Arts Center.
8. James Island
Located just across the river from downtown Charleston, James Island is a great choice for a family vacation or a romantic getaway. It’s only about 15 minutes from all the shopping, fine dining, and attractions of the historic areas. It’s also convenient for day trips to Folly Beach, Sullivans Island, or Isle of Palms as well as other sites in West Ashley, which is actually a small district of Charleston.
If you’re interested in visiting other areas – such as Mount Pleasant, Kiawah Island, and North Charleston – you may want to consider hotels and vacation rentals on James Island and West Ashley rather than the historic districts when you stay in Charleston.
Where to Stay in James Island
La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Charleston Riverview
Located just across the Rt. 30 bridge from downtown Charleston, the La Quinta Inn & Suites offers views of the Ashley River and boats just across the road at the Ripley Light Marina. There’s an outdoor pool and a fitness room. Other amenities include free Wi-Fi, a daily breakfast, and a coffee maker.
Sleep Inn Charleston – West Ashley
Bright and colorful, the Sleep Inn Charleston – West Ashley offers free Wi-Fi and a daily hot breakfast. Amenities include a microwave, a mini-fridge, and a desk. This is a great budget hotel near West Ashley, Folly Beach, and Mount Pleasant.
Cambria Hotel Charleston Riverview
Cambria Hotel Charleston Riverview is found along the Ashley River and within easy access to downtown Charleston. There’s a restaurant, a bar, a fitness center, and an outdoor pool with patio space. Other amenities include free Wi-Fi and a business center.
Springhill Suites by Marriott Charleston Riverview
Springhill Suites by Marriott Charleston Riverview is one of the best places to stay in Charleston for visiting the French Quarter, the Citadel, the College of Charleston, or MUSC. Choose modern rooms that offer amenities such as free Wi-Fi and buffet breakfast, a fitness room, a kitchenette, and an outdoor pool. Enjoy the riverfront and marina views.
Holiday Inn Charleston-Riverview, an IHG Hotel
The high-rise Holiday Inn Charleston-Riverview is located off Highway 17 overlooking the Ashley River. There’s an outdoor pool, a fitness room, a business center, and a restaurant and lounge.
This is one of the best places to stay to enjoy Charleston’s attractions as well as nearby Folly Beach, Sullivans Island, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, and other sites in West Ashley. The hotel offers a free shuttle to downtown Charleston.
Hilton Garden Inn Charleston Waterfront/Downtown
The Hilton Garden Inn Charleston Waterfront/Downtown is located on the Ashley Marina. There’s an outdoor pool, free Wi-Fi, an on-site restaurant, and a business center at this pet-friendly hotel near Mount Pleasant.
Residence Inn by Marriott Charleston Riverview
The Residence Inn by Marriott Charleston Riverview offers studios, 1-bedroom, and 2-bedroom suites. Amenities include free breakfast, complimentary Wi-Fi, a fitness center, an outdoor swimming pool, a hot tub, and a convenience store at this Charleston Marriott hotel.
The Cottage at Byrnes Downs
The Cottage at Byrnes Downs is one of the best places to stay on James Island for couples who want to explore and visit north Charleston. It has one bedroom and one bathroom to accommodate two guests. The cottage is framed by shady live oak trees and features a cozy interior with a small kitchen and a relaxing front porch.
Things to do on James Island
- Visit the unique triangular-shaped Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse. Built-in 1962, it’s one of the “youngest” lighthouses in the country. You can’t climb it, but it’s a fun photo op while you’re visiting Sullivan’s Island from the city center.
- Take a day trip to the sand and surf of Folly Beach, Seabrook Island, Isle of Palms County Park, or Kiawah Island. Seabrook Island is formerly known as Simmons Island. The barrier island of Seabrook Island is popular with birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.
- Head about 20 minutes away to the 400-year-old angel oak tree on nearby Johns Island.
- Magnolia Plantation Gardens is about 25 minutes away and makes another fun day trip from Charleston hotels.
- West Ashley Park has disc golf courses, fishing, playgrounds, and soccer and softball fields.
- Tee off at one of the nearby championship golf courses.
- Head across the Ashley to North Charleston to the Firefly Distillery vineyard and winery, Drayton Hall, or the North Charleston Fire Museum.
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