As a specialist in restoring historic buildings, I love the Preservation Society of Charleston Shop (preservationsociety.org) in King Street, where purchases support this important cause. Nearby, Alexandra (alexandrafrenchantiques.com) is a feast of Gustavian furniture and David Skinner Antiques & Period Lighting (davidskinnerantiques.com) is a favourite source for old light fixtures.
In the same street, Ibu Movement (ibumovement.com) sells cool clothing, textiles and soft furnishings by female artisans from 38 countries, including collections designed by actor Ali MacGraw and interior designer Charlotte Moss. Lake Pajamas (lakepajamas.com) has pima-cotton nightwear for all ages, and the minimalist interior of Worthwhile (shopworthwhile.com) is a perfect backdrop for the thoughtfully curated collection of homewares, accessories and clothing.
Jewellery at Candy Shop Vintage
Croghan’s Jewel Box (croghansjewelbox.com) is Charleston’s premier destination for antique jewellery. There are also new pieces from the Goldbug Collection – a golden celebration of the city’s oft-vilified palmetto bug. The colourful Candy Shop Vintage (candyshopvintage.com) in Cannon Street sells second-hand costume jewellery, as well as ‘Charleston Rice Beads’ inspired by the city’s agricultural heritage.
John Rutledge House Inn is the former home of South Carolina’s first governor.
Letter writers can get their paper fix at Mac & Murphy (macandmurphy.com). Whether you need invitations or a birthday card, this is a charmer of a shop. Back in King Street, the latest addition is the flagship home store of interior designer Amanda Lindroth (amandalindroth.com), with its tented ceiling.
The converted Cigar Factory in East Bay Street houses a number of shops and restaurants, including design collective Fritz Porter (fritzporter.com), where two of my favourite shops-within-shops are located. The first is John Pope Antiques (@johnpopeantiques on Instagram), which has an eclectic assortment of pieces, and the second is Charleston Gardenworks (charlestongardenworks.com) for vintage garden furniture and ornaments.
Amanda Lindroth’s store.
Food and drink
Charleston is known for its restaurants. One of my favourite spots is Chez Nous (cheznouschs.com), a charming Mediterranean bistro in Payne Court. Its setting is a renovated single house, a type of narrow building unique to Charleston. Located in a former bank in King Street, The Ordinary (eattheordinary.com) is where I go for seafood – do not miss the local Seaborn oysters.
Soak up the Mediterranean atmosphere at Chez Nous.
The Tavern Burger at Little Jack’s Tavern (littlejackstavern.com) is the best in the city and the restaurant is home to one of my favourite drinks menus, curated by co-owner Brooks Reitz of the tonic and mixers brand Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. At Goat.Sheep.Cow., North (goatsheepcow.com) in Meeting Street, you can slide into a seat at the marble counter for a glass of wine and a lunchtime salad.
Grab a coffee and locally made fruit and nut chips by Nutty Goodness at Mercantile & Mash (mercandmash.com) in the Cigar Factory before antiquing at Fritz Porter. Wine enthusiasts who like charcuterie with their Chardonnay should stop at Bin 152 (bin152.com).
Cheese and charcuterie at Goat.Sheep.Cow., North.
Nestled in quiet Lower King Street, this wine bar with beadboard walls and mismatched chairs has a European feel. Big groups love Le Farfalle (lefarfallecharleston.com) in Beaufain Street – its creative menu suits all tastes and the outdoor space is heaven.
Located in a renovated federal building in Marion Square, The Dewberry (thedewberrycharleston.com) is one of the city’s great preservation stories. A few years ago, this Sixties concrete-clad structure was not high on the list to save, but it’s now one of Charleston’s top luxury hotels, with 155 bedrooms and a sleek mid-century interior.
A suite at The Dewberry.
With its brass bar, the Living Room is a great place for a cocktail. I feel as if Don Draper from Mad Men could stroll in at any moment and order my favourite drink – a Royal Bermuda Yacht Club made with aged rum and Curaçao. Doubles at The Dewberry cost from about £300.
The hotel’s Living Room serves some of the city’s best cocktails.
Two 18th-century plantations to the north of the city are must-sees. Start at Drayton Hall (draytonhall.org), arguably the finest example of Georgian-Palladian architecture in the US, then head to Middleton Place (middletonplace.org), home to the country’s oldest landscaped gardens. Lunch at Middleton, where the view down the terraced landscape to the Ashley River is sublime.
The waterfront on East Bay Street. Middleton Place.
Ways and Means
British Airways (ba.com) launched a direct, twice-weekly service (on Thursdays and Sundays) last year between London and Charleston, which runs from April to late October. Prices for
return flights start at about £530.