Culture / Travel

South Carolina’s Most Charming City Adds New Hotels and Restaurants Worthy of a Trip in 2021

Charleston Debuts a Historic Hotel, Wood-Fired Italian Restaurant, and Upscale Seafood Spot

BY // 01.15.21

The year 2020 will no doubt go down in history as objectively terrible. But, 2020 also gave us some excellent new openings to help soften all of the hard memories. Just in time to plan your 2021 travel calendar (vaccine pending), new hotels and restaurants all over the country have popped up, ready to welcome us into a bright new year. In particular, Charleston, South Carolina opened some exciting new hospitality concepts that shed some light at the end of the pandemic tunnel.

A new hotel and two new dining destinations are topping all of the lists in Charleston, with dazzling that make the uniquely charming city even more enticing. With a high concentration of the country’s most notable chefs, chicest hotels, and most creative innovators, it is no easy task for newcomers to join the ranks. Yet, these new slam-dunk spots are invigorating the lively city by the sea.


Charleston’s famous Downtown District, lined with rainbow-colored historic homes, is now emphasized by Emeline, a star-studded hotel that managed to create a buzzy scene despite pandemic woes. The new, timeless boutique hotel brings all the Southern charm, with a modern touch that fits the city’s appreciation for elegance in a non-stuffy way.

Originally serving as the headquarters for a wholesale grocery business in 1852, the historic building is continuing its legacy for forward-thinking hospitality. Its mythical muse, “Ms. Emeline,” has a mark on nearly every detail of the space.

Emeline is the quintessential Southern hostess that captivates guests in her cocoon of warm and stylish reception. Like any good Southern hostess, Emeline offers guests cocktails at check-in, handed out by the hotel employees referred to as hosts. Visitors are encouraged to take a moment of respite in the lobby Living Room, a perfectly designed area filled with earthy art and soulful, polished furniture that feels more like your coolest friend’s home than a public place.

The vision of the hotel’s specific aesthetic and perfectly branded experience was developed by design firm Swoon, the Studio and orchestrated by operator Makeready, the renowned duo behind The Adolphus, one of Dallas’ chicest hotels.

The talented designers cohesively created the accommodations for the ultimate display of Charleston — down to the perfectly curated playlists and signature scent. The standard hotel gift shop is reinvented with Emeline’s, which offers art, jewelry, and books by local creatives.

The 212-room hotel boasts spacious guest rooms with updated finishes, plush, jewel tone accents, and midcentury decor for that dose of cultural cool. There is even a record player in each room with Emeline’s own record of songs ready to kick off your stay. From the attentive service to the thoughtful surroundings, the hotel is an homage to a city for which it’s people are most proud.

Frannie and the Fox Charleston
The Foxhole is the most charming way to order a cocktail at Charleston’s Frannie and the Fox. (Courtesy of Frannie and the Fox)

Frannie and The Fox

If Emeline is the cool, Southern hostess, then Frannie is her daring and spunky little sister. And then there’s her wild, fun loving alter ego, The Fox. At Emeline, Frannie and the Fox is a new, wood-fired Italian eatery. The restaurant is the perfect complement to the stylish hotel hostess — ready to welcome patrons to the modern and elegant concept with delicious food, mouthwatering cocktails, and just the right amount of swank.

You can’t throw a rock in Charleston without hitting someone buzzing about the social set in attendance or recommending Frannie and the Fox’s pizzas. Cooked up in the enormous pizza oven, situated right in the center of the newly refurbished kitchen, theses pies are perfectly crisp.

Perhaps the most charming facet of all (a feat in a city that screams charm) is The Foxhole, an unbelievably darling, two-seated window bar inspired by old Italian wine windows. If you’re lucky enough to snag a spot with your date, it is the absolute cutest way to get a cocktail. Press the brass button and a friendly bartender pops their head out to offer a beverage off their inventive menu.

Or, try to claim a coveted seat on the charming, brick patio nestled next to the roaring fireplace. Combined with the twinkly bistro lights, the ambiance easily attracts locals and travelers alike.

Tempest Charleston
Tempest is a new, fine-dining seafood restaurant in Charleston. (Courtesy of Tempest)


Another acclaimed spot in the Charleston dining scene is Tempest — a fine-dining bistro with Southern seafood fare. The award-winning, nationally-renowned celebrity chef team behind 5Church (Top Chef alum Jamie Lynch and chef Adam Hodgson) opened this neighborhood concept last fall. It offers the best South Atlantic fish, straight from the water that so conveniently surrounds them.

The restauranteurs set out to create a sustainable fish eatery with inventive techniques and a palatable story. The staff and servers know all of their local seafood vendors by name. When reviewing the menu, it’s common for servers to mention personal anecdotes about the spear fisherman who caught the flounder that morning or the oyster company who provided tonight’s picks. It’s next-level, local love.

Tempest strives to carry out their mission in an upscale manner with impeccable presentation and service. If the legendary seafood towers don’t impress you, the smoked oysters, artful ensembles of ceviche, and charcoal-roasted fresh catches will.

As an exceptionally special treat to round out your seaside dining experience, the check is presented with brandy, cigars, and roses for guests to cherish. Diners also receive a community copy of Shakespeare’s The Tempest for guests to write their thoughts and end-of-meal sentiments.

Charleston has been ruling the travel world for some time, but since these exciting new favorites have emerged, they are enticing us to plan another visit.

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