Eighteenth-century Charleston. Ships in the harbor. Churches in session. And I’m at the rooftop pool of the Hotel Bennett, soaking in the view.
This is the Holy City, where history and modernity collide in grand and gorgeous fashion. And Hotel Bennett, in its five-star, Euro-inspired glory, is an ultimate example.
A story about Charleston’s newest hotel, opened this past January, must begin with its owner Michael Bennett and his near-obsessive penchant for detail. Bennett, whose father shined shoes during the Great Depression across the street from Hotel Bennett’s King Street location, is a prominent Charleston real estate developer, restaurateur, and philanthropist. Hotel Bennett reflects the finest design and materials of Europe, and is Bennett’s “love letter” to his beloved Holy City.
There is a correlation between attention to detail and luxury. When the details are the finest—Egyptian marble, Italian glass, Cyprus wood, planed by hand—then it nearly stands to reason that an exceptional experience is possible. But what makes it undoubtedly so is the level of service that accompanies it.
Walking into the hotel, which flanks the city’s prominent Marion Square, is like stepping into a regal home whose proprietor discovered the best materials and accents while abroad. A few awe-inspiring scenes pop into view: just inside the hotel’s main entrance is a rotunda with four paintings by Athens muralist and trompe l’oeil artist Jill Biskin. These showcase Charleston streets and harbor as they appeared in the eighteenth century. Then, there’s Camellias, which is Hotel Bennett’s chic Champagne and caviar bar, whose rosy hues and oval shape are inspired by the rare Fabergé eggs of Russia (afternoon tea is also served here Thursday to Saturday). To the right of the lobby is the hotel’s signature restaurant, Gabrielle, and its stunning bar, which is both refined and warm. Just beyond the bar is the restaurant’s patio, with seating and service for those wishing to enjoy an evening next to Marion Square. (As I discover the following evening, Gabrielle is an experience not to be missed. Its executive chef, Michael Sichel, hails from New Orleans’s famed restaurant Galatoire’s, and his menus are a celebration of French cuisine with both creole and Southern influences.) Around the corner from the elevators is La Pâtisserie, the hotel’s casual French café, whose layered breads, sandwiches, and cakes evoke a classic Parisian experience.
The 179 guestrooms and suites in Hotel Bennett are equal touches of European sophistication and Charlestonian character, flooded with modern conveniences. My suite’s details, such as its built-in bookcases and crewel window treatments, lend a residential vibe while also paying homage to historical Charleston and the former library site of the hotel. The deep tubs in each suite are like miniature pools, perfect for an evening (or anytime) soak with complimentary bath salts. Hotel Bennett’s spa also offers ample services to relax and rejuvenate body and mind.
Like being at the home of a dear friend, time at the Hotel Bennett feels restorative and personalized. Much more than a place to sleep, it is a wellness experience from the moment you step inside, grandness from the ground up. While I take in the view poolside, “up” is where I intend to stay—at least for this weekend dream.