Southern hospitality: Inside The Dewberry, Charleston’s new hotel

Charleston’s new Dewberry hotel offers midcentury modern vibes with a side of Southern hospitality.


In a city known for its antebellum architecture and romantic rows of pastel homes, The Dewberry’s design draws attention. Overlooking Charleston’s Marion Square, the new 155-room hotel pays serious homage to midcentury design—but with plenty of subtle nods to its Lowcountry surroundings.

The building was originally the L. Mendel Rivers Federal Building, commissioned by President John F. Kennedy and completed in 1964. And the luxury hotel’s founder, John Dewberry, celebrates these roots with an austere facade that remains nearly the same, and interiors featuring rich wood paneling, gold accents, and marble floors. For those who lived through the ’60s, its ground level undoubtedly evokes nostalgia for the time—for the rest of us, it evokes episodes of “Mad Men.”

But make no mistake, while it may be more modern and outwardly austere, The Dewberry still offers all of Charleston’s famed Southern hospitality and charm. Its take on a hotel gift shop includes two chic shops with stylish goods selected by the editors of Garden & Gun magazine. And its light-filled lobby—which the hotel calls its “Living Room”—has quickly become one of the city’s top spots for drinks, with locals and tourists alike lounging in the authentic period couches and high-back chairs, sipping classic cocktails.

One of the hotel’s most appealing features, though, may be its location. From its front doors, it’s an easy stroll to many of the city’s most well-known historical landmarks, as well as its bustling shopping district. Walk to dinner reservations on the hip upper King Street, and spend a Saturday morning in the market across the street in Marion Square. The Dewberry is a perfect jumping off point for Charleston, but ultimately its luxe interior and quiet rooms make it an even better respite to return to at the end of a day exploring the famed Southern city.

STAY

The guest rooms at The Dewberry (TheDewberryCharleston.com) may be designed even more thoughtfully than its entry. Plush white linens cover inviting beds under sparkling chandeliers, and bright bathrooms offer fragrant toiletries designed just for the hotel. The high-ceilinged rooms feature botanical accents and soothing beige hues. There are authentic period touches in the rooms as well, such as large gold-trimmed mirrors above the beds that feature seams, reflective of a time when sheets of the mirrored glass could only be made in limited sizes. Even the mini-bars show attention to detail with hand-selected local spirits and snacks.


Of course, to truly experience the flavor of the hotel and the region, you’ll want to venture to its ground floor’s centerpiece: an oversized brass bar in the center of its “Living Room.” In the mornings, guests will find coffee and tea (there’s even a dewberry variety) on the bar. But the best time for gathering here is in the early evening when its classic cocktail menu from award-winning mixologist Ryan Casey offers a taste of another time. On a warm evening—and there are many in Charleston—order the Blue Moon, a refreshing and smooth mix of gin, crème de violette, and lemon.

 

EAT

On The Dewberry’s ground floor you’ll find Henrietta’s, a black-and-white-checkered floored restaurant that’s a Parisian bistro with plenty of Southern flair. You’ll want to make reservations for at least one dinner under its woven ceiling retro globe lights, but one of the best times for hotel guests to stop into Henrietta’s is for breakfast. Snag a seat on the street side patio and order the decadent Benedict made with cheddar biscuits.

Anyone familiar with Charleston knows that the city seems to have more nationally acclaimed restaurants than it does residents at times. And The Dewberry is just steps away from many of them. Popular and newer spots like The Darling Oyster Bar, The Ordinary, and The Grocery are all an easy stroll up King Street—and all are excellent spots known for their fresh seafood, creative dishes, and stylish interiors.

Save some time to stop for a drink on your walk back to the hotel. You’ll pass The Belmont, a hip and minimalist bar where black-and-white films play on the wall and the cocktail list is filled with classics. And a little farther down the street you’ll pass The Cocktail Club, a second-story bar and rooftop terrace known for its speakeasy vibe and strong bourbon cocktails. Both are perfect stops to wind down your Charleston night.   

Photo by Stephen B. Morton

PLAY

Charleston is one of the South’s top travel destinations for good reason. From historical tours to sophisticated shopping to great beaches, the area is brimming with fun things to do for any taste—and The Dewberry is in the center of it all.

If you’ve never taken one of the city’s historic carriage tours or walked through its famed City Market, save a morning (preferably early and before the crowds) for that.

If it’s beach time you’re craving, head over to the nearby picturesque Sullivan’s Island. Stop on the way at Shem Creek where from a perch on the rooftop of Red’s Ice House you can watch kayakers and dolphins cut through the water below.

But much of Charleston can be explored on foot from The Dewberry. If you’re visiting on a Saturday, wake up early for the food and artisan market across the street in Marion Square Park. Grab a warm donut from one of the food trucks and peruse the fresh foods as well as crafts like pottery and jewelry. Serious shoppers can head down King Street where larger chain stores mix with local boutiques and galleries.

And make an appointment at the end of your busy day for The Dewberry’s spa. You’ll be more than ready for its soothing dark halls scented with spices and waterbed massage tables covered in thick and fluffy duvets. After your full day around the town, the luxurious head-to-toe Dewberry Signature Massage will leave you relaxed and refreshed—and ready for your next Charleston adventure.


Getting there

Charleston is an easy 3.5-hour drive down I-77 and I-26 from Charlotte.

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