The spectator shoe, which reached its height of popularity during the ‘20s and ‘30s, featured a distinctive white body with darker-colored toe and heel caps. The shoe was originally regarded as too flamboyant, but soon caught on with the Jazz Age crowd.
The entrance to The Spectator Hotel lies a mere block off busy Market Street, convenient to, yet worlds away from, the many attractions of Charleston’s Historic District. As we pull up, a staff member comes out to greet us, retrieve our luggage, and park our car. Adam, as he introduces himself, will be our personal butler for the length of our stay.
Check-in proves a quick process at one of two crescent-shaped desks in the lobby. While the concierge is taking an imprint of my credit card, Adam brings me and my husband today’s featured cocktail—a flute of Champagne—which is offered to every guest.
As I take in the lobby, lit by a dazzling 1,800-piece crystal chandelier, I am drawn into the dark cocoon of the adjoining bar. Clad in black wood with antique mirrors lining the coffered ceiling, the bar hovers between lounge and library. Shelves along several walls hold an eclectic collection of antique and modern volumes, everything from a 1937 leather-bound edition of Bonniers Konversations Lexicon to a paperback copy of Grateful Dead Lyrics. Comfy seating areas are thoughtfully placed around the room, equally accommodating groups and intimate tête–à–têtes. I make note to come back later to sample a cocktail at the marble-topped bar.
Hand-painted wallpaper behind the check-in desks introduces the hotel’s exuberant Jazz Age design theme. Even The Spectator’s name—a reference to the spectator shoe, a gentlemen’s oxford popular in the 1920s—hails from that era.
Perhaps the bar’s albino peacock best symbolizes the hotel’s ambience. Dubbed “Daisy Buchanan” (the enigmatic female protagonist in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby) by one of the owners, the majestic white taxidermed bird presides over a corner of the bar, her long white plumage cascading like a wedding gown. Daisy’s feathery beauty embodies the show-stopping style of the Jazz Age.
Once we have our key, Adam whisks us up to our third-floor King Suite and completes the check-in process there. He points out the features of the room, which is swathed in a neutral palette accented by ebony-hued woods. The space encompasses a wraparound balcony as well as a small seating area with a second at-screen TV. Italian marble lines the surfaces in the bathroom.
Adam offers to unpack our bags and even fetch pantry items to stock our in-room refrigerator. We demur, as the complimentary selection of snacks, sourced from local gourmet grocery Southern Season, more than satisfies our need for munchies.
During our stay, Adam explains, he is at our beck and call to do anything from press clothing and make dining reservations to arrange in-room yoga classes and massages. In the morning, an “artisan” breakfast will be delivered to our room at the time we specify. A caffeine jolt can be supplied any time from the in-room espresso machine.
This is all part of the 41-room boutique hotel’s core concept: distinctive service. “We pride ourselves on our service,” says Mark Henry, Director of Guest Services. “Your butler at The Spectator is a mobile concierge. We tell people that as long as a request is not illegal or immoral, we’re happy to do it for our guests.”