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Grande Dame

For developer and hospitality magnate Michael Bennett, newly unveiled Hotel Bennett in his hometown of Charleston is history in the making.


Hotel Bennett, situated on Marion Square, has prime real estate for viewing everything from Spoleto Festival USA to Charleston Wine + Food.

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Rooms have showers and soaking tubs, allowing guests to choose their own relaxation adventure. An added bonus: sweeping views of the city.

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The all-suite hotel is done in elegant and understated tones, yet comes fully equipped with modern conveniences, including hypoallergenic linens.

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Camellias is a Champagne, caviar, ceviche and tartare bar off the main lobby. The pink marble is an exceptionally historic touch.

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Where the Charleston County Public Library and part of the Citadel once stood is a hotel nearly a quarter of a century in the making. Hotel Bennett, the brainchild of Michael Bennett, is being touted as luxury like Charleston has never seen—and it’s valid. Decidedly low country in its friendly, relaxed style, yet reminiscent of grand European hotels (a rotunda decked in handpainted murals of Bennett’s home, Richmond Plantation, and Charleston Harbor; marble floors; and high-touch services bring in the effect quite nicely), the hotel looks as though it’s been standing for 100 years, which was exactly Bennett’s intention.

Perched over central Marion Square, the hotel offers guests a front-row seat to Charleston Wine + Food and Spoleto Festival USA, among other marquee events. It’s also sentimental for Bennett himself: His father shined shoes nearby on King Street, and restaurant Virginia’s on King, next to the hotel, is named after his mother.

One of the biggest draws is the club level, which will bring guests in search of an upgrade all they could want—large sunny terraces, all-day dining, an on-call concierge with custom itineraries, a house car and reservations at some of the hottest restaurants in town. Another indicator of the level of luxury? Hotel Bennett is a member of the esteemed network of luxury Preferred Hotels & Resorts properties.

Also on offer is a 6,600-square-foot ballroom; a spa; a ninth-story rooftop bar; the highest rooftop pool, with evening bar service, in the notoriously height-averse Holy City; a patisserie; Champagne and caviar bar Camellias, which was inspired by a pink Fabergé egg—look for the pink marble salvaged from the old library; and Gabrielle Charleston, a dining experience from chef Michael Sichel, formerly of Galatoire’s in New Orleans.

From the moment you step foot in the hotel, the city’s famous Southern hospitality is in full effect. (Hotel Bennett is managed by Salamander Hotels & Resorts, known for its expert service at establishments such as The Henderson in Destin, Fla., and its namesake property, Salamander Resort & Spa, in Middleburg, Va.) It’s an elegant escape into one of the hottest travel destinations of the 21st century, and surely to be a force to be reckoned with for the next 100 years. Room rates from $450 per night


Originally published in the March issue of Silicon Valley

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