Overlooking Marion Square (where farmers markets and festivals frequent), the Francis Marion Hotel is situated at the very center of historic Charleston and is popular among wedding parties (it boasts multiple ballrooms), work conferences, families, and travelers of any age. Built in 1924 from plans by New York architect William Lee Stoddart, the hotel climbs 12 stories, making it one of the tallest buildings in town and affording guests sweeping views of downtown, the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, and beyond. Design-wise, the property—which has been dubbed a Historic Hotel of America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation—harkens back to the Gilded Age and features wrought-iron railings, crown moldings, and decorative plasterwork.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Located at the corner of King and Calhoun streets, you’re practically a stone’s throw from a handful of nightclubs and restaurants, and sidewalk foot traffic is heavy both day and night. Opt for a room as high as possible—and one that faces west—to best buffer the noise.
A gold-and-blue palette colors guest rooms, which are filled with natural light, billowy drapes, plain furnishings, and Art Deco accent pieces. Choose from traditional rooms with two doubles or a queen, deluxe rooms that house an extra sitting area, or penthouse suites, which offer amenities like a full kitchen and dining room, along with multiple bedrooms.
To score the best views, request a room on the eighth floor or higher.
Many rooms feature original tankless toilets: a neat nod to the property’s history and a practical matter since the bathrooms are quite tight. Granite countertops and Gilchrist & Soames bath products elevate the simple space.
Ornate crown molding, more than a dozen crystal chandeliers, a grand piano, and lots of comfy lounge furniture fill the lively lobby, where you’ll want to grab a cup of Joe and make yourself at home.
Introverts should check out the tucked-away mezzanine that overlooks the lobby; it’s just perfect for people watching.
Need a quick mani, pedi, facial, or massage? Visit the on-site Spa Adagio for standard treatments.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The on-site spa isn’t one that locals frequent (as in, it’s fine, but nothing to write home about). However, a new owner is set to take charge in 2018, so things may change for the better.
Though it’s not particularly inspiring, there’s a small gym on-site with the requisite free-weights, cardio machines, and TV.
Located on the hotel’s ground floor, The Swamp Fox Restaurant and Bar serves up Lowcountry-inspired breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a space reminiscent of a cigar lounge. Late-night bites like cookies and milk, a cheese plate, and a turkey club with chips are available via room service.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The Swamp Fox's on-site location is convenient, but you're within a few minute's walk of some of Charleston's best restaurants, so don't limit yourself to this in-hotel fare.
The Swamp Fox is the sole on-site watering hole, while bubbles, local beer, and other spirits can be delivered to your room via add-on packages. A Starbucks is located on the ground floor, as well.
You’ll be able to explore much of Charleston by foot, but there is valet parking available ($22/day) or a self-park option in the nearby garage ($17/day), if you plan to drive to off-peninsula excursions. Other good transpo options include pedicabs (they’re always some waiting outside of the hotel’s King Street entrance), the free DASH trolley, and ride-share.
Head north on King Street and you’ll run into Monza (5-minute walk), an Italian bistro perfect for lunch or dinner; The Macintosh (7-minute walk), which boasts a delicious brunch and hearty Southern supper; and Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit (7-minute walk), a biscuit-focused breakfast bar that has a cult-like following.
Walk north on King Street to also find a host of lively bars, from the cozy and beer-centric Closed for Business (5-minute walk) to The Cocktail Club (7-minute walk), where, as the name suggests, fancy spirits reign supreme. Get your buzz on al fresco at Stars Rooftop & Grill Bar (8-minute walk) or, if you’re craving a club scene, walk east on Calhoun Street to Trio Club (2-minute walk) or Mynt (2-minute walk).
WHY WE LIKE IT
If you’re looking to shop or wine-and-dine your way through downtown Charleston, Francis Marion’s central location is hard to beat. Though there’s nothing above-and-beyond luxurious about the guest rooms, it’s a tidy, dependable hotel offering friendly service, convenient on-site amenities, travel packages, historic architecture, comfortable rooms, and stellar views.