Charleston has many of the best historic inns in America, surpassing even those of Savannah. Hotels and motels are priced in direct ratio to their proximity to the Historic District. Bed-and-breakfast accommodations range from historic homes to carriage houses to simple cottages, and they’re located in virtually every section of the city. For full details and reservations, contact Historic Charleston Bed and Breakfast, 57 Broad St. (tel. 800/743-3583; www.historiccharlestonbedandbreakfast.com; Mon–Fri 9am–5pm).
During the Spring Festival of Houses (Mar–Apr) and the Spoleto Festival USA (late May–early June; www.spoletousa.org), rates for all types of accommodation go up, and owners charge pretty much what the market will bear. Advance reservations are essential at those times. Note that although the city attracts visitors year-round, March through June tends to be peak season in Charleston.
In a city that has rooms of so many shapes and sizes in the same historic building, classifying hotels by price is difficult. Price often depends on the room itself. Some expensive hotels may, in fact, have many moderately priced rooms. Moderately priced hotels, on the other hand, may have special rooms that are quite expensive. When booking a hotel, ask about package plans—deals are most often granted to those who are staying 3 days or more.
The downside regarding all these inns of charm and grace is that they are invariably expensive when compared to other cities in the South. Staying at an inn or B&B in the Historic District is one of the reasons to go to Charleston and can do more to evoke the elegance of the city than almost anything else. Innkeepers and B&B owners know this all too well and charge accordingly, especially in the summer season.If you can’t afford a stay at one of these historic inns, you can confine your consumption of Charleston to dining in the old city and sightseeing and, at night, retire to one of the many clean, comfortable—and, yes, utterly dull—chain motels on the outskirts. The biggest clusters can be found in North Charleston, near the international airport (at the junction of I-26 and I-526); at the southern end of I-526 in West Ashley; and just across the Cooper River on U.S. 17. Doubles range from $55 to $180. Children 11 and under stay free in their parent’s room, and cribs are also free.
Anyone looking to really get into the local swing of things in Charleston should consider a short-term rental apartment. For the same price or less than a hotel room, you could have your own one-bedroom apartment with a washing machine, air conditioning, and a fridge to store booze. Properties of all sizes and styles, in every price range, are available for stays of 3 nights to several weeks.
The companies below are especially recommended.
AirBnB (www.airbnb.com) offers over 125 properties in and around Charleston. The San Francisco-based Internet venture connects private property owners with travelers at a variety of price points.
Couchsurfing (www.couchsurfing.org) is another website connecting travelers with folks willing to rent a house, room, or apartment. It offers over 2,000 options in and around Charleston.
Vacation Rentals by Owner (www.vrbo.com) is a hip rental agency that offers over 3,000 rental properties in and around Charleston, everything from 4-bedroom apartments for $310 per night to studios for $165 per night.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.