Where To Stay In Charleston (SC) + Mills House Hotel Review
Charleston had been on my list to visit for years (and shamefully, I never went while living in Atlanta). But I finally got there for a fun girls’ weekend with a BFF this summer and we loved it!
However, figuring out where to stay in Charleston took a bit of work (partly because everything was SO expensive that weekend), so I wanted to share my thoughts on the best hotels in Charleston and my review of where we did stay—Mills House Hotel.
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For our girls’ weekend (and my recommendations below), my focus was on special but not insane luxury. So I won’t be sharing low-budget options but also not focusing on the most expensive Charleston hotels…I was looking for the sweet spot of central, beautiful, comfortable, something with some special touches, and a little bit of a splurge but not “break the bank”.
The thing is, Charleston can get PRICEY. We visited the weekend *after* 4th of July and everything, even kind of “meh” hotels, was crazy expensive—which seems crazy since the swamp-like sweaty mid/late summer is definitely not when I’d prefer to visit.
We paid $1,200 for two nights for a slightly-upgraded room, which was on-par with everywhere else we were seeing for similar level hotels. At a more off-season time you’d be looking at more like $700-800 for two nights. In my experience you could get the same room/experience in a bigger city for more like $500-600 for two nights, for comparison. But Charleston is pricier.
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Where to stay in Charleston
There are no shortage of beautiful boutique hotels, inns, and interesting apartments in Charleston. If you have something specific in mind or just want to get a sense for prices, I always recommend starting on Booking.com and using a few filters to get started. Obviously your dates, then I always start with “9+ ratings” (going to 8+ if it narrows too much), and either enter or use the map to find specific areas you want to be in.
In addition to Mills House Hotel (where we stayed and about which I’ll share much more detail below), here was my short list of best hotels in Charleston. Since this was a fun girls’ weekend in celebration of my friend’s 40th, I wanted a nicer hotel experience vs. just finding something budget-minded.
Hotel Emeline – This was super high on my list but was fully booked for our dates. It’s located beside the Charleston City Market and I loved the darker colors and cozy, lush-feeling decor. The outside firepit seating area was a major draw for me as well.
The Restoration – This beautiful King Street hotel blends modern and traditional decor, offering a spa and rooftop pool. One unique offering is a continental breakfast delivered in a picnic basket, and daily fresh-baked cookies.
86 Cannon Historic Inn – This adults-only hotel has a 3-night minimum so sadly fell off our list, but looks amazing and gets great reviews. Located on King Street, the building itself has a ton of Civil War and civil rights history. It’s small (only seven rooms!) with a bed-and-breakfast type atmosphere. If I’m ever back in Charleston for a longer stay, this is at the top of the list!
The Dewberry – Bright, modern, and more open-feeling, this hotel is located on Marion Square, so a bit further away from King Street (but eminently walkable). One of the selling points is the Citrus Club, a great rooftop cocktail bar and being a bit further from the chaos.
The Spectator Hotel – This gorgeous 1920s-inspired hotel is located on State Street, just a couple blocks from the famous Pineapple Fountain. It gets amazing reviews, offers butler services, and has a speakeasy-style bar.
The Vendue – If you’re looking for something a bit more modern and quirky, this art hotel is a great choice. It’s located right off Waterfront Park, just steps from the Pineapple Fountain, has a rooftop bar with great views, a rotating art gallery where complementary wine is served each evening, and free cookies at night!
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Mills House Hotel review
Okay, on to my more detailed review of Mills HouseCharleston. We stayed two lovely nights here (you can see reviews and rooms available on Booking.com, where I usually, and reviews on TripAdvisor as well).
In case you need the TLDR version:
- We stayed in a King Corner Room and found it clean, comfortable, and plenty roomy. One of my reasons for choosing it vs. a regular room was that it has a couch which makes hanging out better in my opinion.
- The hotel has many amenities, including a rooftop pool (not with a view, mind you), a lovely patio, a restaurant, bar, coffee shop, fitness center, and more.
- I loved the location, which was in the middle of the Historic District and easily walkable basically anywhere. It’s only a couple blocks from Charleston City Market and about 8-10 minutes’ walk from the Pineapple Fountain.
So let’s dive into the hotel a bit further…
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Location & service
As I mention above, I loved the hotel’s location. It’s set pretty centrally in the Historic District, with an easy walk to Waterfront Park and Rainbow Row, only a few minutes to Charleston City Market, and 10-15 minutes to Marion Square.
The hotel itself is an old colonial-style building in a pretty pink color with black and white accents, a nice modern take on Southern elegance.
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There are a number of amenities and shared public spaces, from the lovely patio area to the rooftop pool to multiple lobby seating areas.
The pool does get super crowded midday and through the afternoon, so get there early to get a lounge chair. They also ran out of towels for quite a while the afternoon we hung out there.
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I loved the lobby entrance closest to the coffee shop and reception (there are multiple entrances). This rich blue with bright white and crystal accents really popped.
I had trouble finding Reception at first, as there’s little to no signage, but it was right here to the left of this lobby. The guy at the front desk wasn’t particularly warm, very perfunctory. But in great news, our room was ready early (I’d had a pretty early flight)!
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Our room at Mills House
I opted for a King Corner Room even with the extra cost, because my friend and I never get to see each other and I wanted some seating options to just hang out and talk.
The room was fairly spacious, and was clean and comfortable. My one complaint (and honestly this seems consistent in hotels in general) is that we cranked the A/C way down at night and it felt great while awake but we never felt it was *quite* cold enough when sleeping.
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I enjoyed having the couch rather than just the bed and maybe one armchair, which is what most hotel rooms offer.
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Other public areas in the hotel
I loved the overall aesthetic at Mills House Hotel, which was a blend of traditional Southern with many modern touches, very slightly feminine, and with a bit of whimsy.
In addition to the main lobby and the patio areas, there’s this indoor kind of patio seating, and then the hotel has a restaurant and bar as well.
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We didn’t get a chance to try out the bar and restaurant, but did avail ourselves of the coffee shop multiple times. The Black Door is, as you’d expect of any nice coffee shop theses days, a bit overpriced, but I loved my various iced lattes—in particular the summer seasonal strawberries & cream one was amazing (I always ask them to halve the syrup)!
It was great to have right there in the building, and has not only coffee and a few pastries, but functions as a fancy convenience store. We could get bottles of wine, snacks, hipster cold drinks like canned kombucha or wine, or fancy ready-to-drink cocktails.
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You have a ton of options for where to stay in Charleston, and Mills House Hotel is definitely one of the best hotels to consider as fancy but not “break the bank”!
Other cute boutique hotels you’ll love:
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- Why Staying In Ardmore’s Gorgeous Cliff House Hotel Is A Must When Visiting Ireland’s South Coast
- Porto’s Affordable Luxury Le Monumental Palace (Maison-Albar Hotel)
- Where To Stay In Bath, UK: The Charming “Henrietta House”
- The Charming Thon Orion Hotel on Bergen’s Harbor
- Istanbul’s Historic Hotel DeCamondo
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