A National Historic Landmark, this elegant mansion was built in 1763 for John Rutledge, the state’s first governor, and received a visit from George Washington in 1791. Today, the bed and breakfast welcomes history-loving business and leisure travelers from around the world. It’s striking from the street, with a black-and-white checked sidewalk, pastel-hued stucco walls, and two floor’s worth of ornate, vine-wrapped wrought-iron balconies practically begging to be Instagrammed, and is equally stunning inside, where original architecture rules.
Want to feel like you own the place? Book one of the capacious Main House Grand Suites, which are 900 square feet and feature a sitting room, bedroom, and huge bathroom.
Filled with antiques and period reproductions, you’ll feel like you’re waking up in the 18th century … only on a Temper-Pedic mattress and with heating or AC blasting. Layouts vary, but many rooms in the main house boast canopied four-poster beds, original (and functioning) marble fireplaces, intricate plaster molding, parquet floors, and 12-foot ceilings.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Carriage-house rooms are pet friendly. They’re also smaller and less fanciful than main-house digs.
Roomy glass-doored walk-in showers are clad in clean, handsome tile. White walls and cabinets give the space a refreshingly modern feel.
Guests read, mix, mingle, and gather for meals and libations in the stately second-floor ballroom, where archeological artifacts and other historical tidbits are out for your browsing. Seating overflows onto the balcony, which overlooks the bustling Broad Street.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Modern-minded travelers, take note: like guest rooms, the lobby’s décor is quite old-fashioned.
Break fast with the day’s hot meal (which varies from chicken and biscuits to croque-madame) and continental offerings. You can dine in bed or join others in the ballroom or open-air courtyard, located between the main and carriage houses.
Pour yourself some brandy, sherry, or port from the self-serve station in the ballroom.
Park your car behind the house ($14/day) and use it to visit local beaches and off-peninsula sites. Otherwise, you’ll be able to walk, pedicab, or rideshare your way around town. The complimentary DASH trolley is another smart choice for downtown sightseeing.
Keep tracing George Washington’s footsteps and dine at McCrady’s Tavern (10-minute walk), where you’ll find classic American cuisine cooked by James Beard Award-winning chef Sean Brock. For a quick, cozy lunch, head next door to Gaulart & Maliclet (2-minute walk). Known by locals as Fast & French, you’ll slurp soup, salads, sammies, and other French fare at lively community tables.
Sip a stiff libation at the intimate Bar at Husk (5-minute walk), housed in an historic kitchen house. Bring your pup with you to the festive open-air back patio of Blind Tiger Pub (7-minute walk), where in-season sports will be playing.
WHY WE LIKE IT
The John Rutledge House’s gorgeous façade is truly a staple of historic Charleston. While history buffs will be in heaven in the dignified main house and families can settle into the tucked-away carriage house, all can expect attentive service, including a nightly turndown complete with chocolates on the pillow. The inn’s pièce de résistance? Its location: you’re within a short walk of art galleries, antique boutiques, restaurants, and sites galore.