History Redefined

Whether it’s the historic charm or booming cultural and culinary scene, there’s a reason people are flocking to Charleston

Defined by its protected historic homes, cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages and ethereal charm, visiting Charleston feels like entering a time warp, granting the luxuries of modern-day living in the setting of a period piece. Perhaps it’s the city’s focus on cultural preservation, often referred to as the “living museum,” that continues to draw visitors from near and far, or maybe it’s the bustling culinary scene and array of outdoor activity that entices. No matter the reason, Charleston has earned its spot at the top of our travel list.

While there is no shortage of places to stay, The Mills House Hotel, located on the corner of Queen and Meeting Streets in the heart of Charleston’s historic downtown, is an iconic landmark with a storied history. Originally established in 1853 by local grain merchant Otis Mills before it was reconstructed in the late 1960s, today, the 218-room hotel—now part of the Curio Collection by Hilton—is fresh off of a multimillion-dollar renovation that solidifies its significance to the city.

Original ironwork and cornices can still be found on the establishment’s facade, best visible from the renovated rooftop pool and terrace that also plays host to a bar and daily wellness classes. Inside, guest suites imbue a residential feel, featuring elegant furniture and artwork from Atlanta-based artist Tracy Murrell.

And thanks to the hotel’s central location, exciting adventure awaits in every direction. Head to the Charleston City Market to pick up local goods or walk to King Street for a vibrant day of shopping. House-loving travelers will keep their heads on a swivel while perusing the mansions near Battery Park, and don’t forget to stop at the Nathaniel Russell House on your way back to the hotel to get an inside look at how the high class lived in the 1800s. If you have a couple of hours to spare, Captain Jim runs a tight ship on the Secret Strolls Walking Tour, where he guides guests through Charleston’s tucked-away alleyways and secret gardens while sharing historic knowledge you won’t find in the textbooks.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, culinary excellence abounds throughout the city. Grab a bite on-the-go from The Black Door Café in The Mills House lobby, or sit down at the hotel’s Iron Rose for dinner, serving Southern coastal fare—think locally sourced ingredients with a vegetable-forward menu—in a sophisticated setting. In the hotel’s latest partnership with Tia Clark, guests can go crabbing then return to the Iron Rose with their catch for an elevated, Lowcountry boil.

For a night out, The Ordinary on King Street is housed in a former bank serving up oysters and seafood dishes. Nearby, feel at home in Chez Nous, a restored house-turned-French restaurant that features a daily-changing menu. For some classic Charleston grub, Leon’s Oyster Shop is a must-try. Visitors come for the fried chicken and oysters, but don’t look past the “sleepers” on the menu, including the Smoked Mahi Dip and the Siam Salad. Bon appétit! millshouse.com