Charleston, South Carolina’s Planters Inn is a 1840s-era landmark in the middle of one the most historically significant cities in the U.S. So, it pretty much goes without saying that the hotel is going to have a special milieu all its own.
While part of the property’s charm is certainly owed to its storied past–it began life as a Greek Revival-style Market Hall for area farmers and tradesmen before being converted into a hotel in the 1990s–it’s also the result of the inn’s present-day take on its deep-rooted southern tradition. The entire place feels like a comfortable, plush, modern-day version of a classic Antebellum-Era home.
And that’s saying nothing of the hotel’s location smack in the middle of Charleston’s Centre Market District.
We got a chance to explore the property’s high style–which can best be described as stately, traditional and elegant, in the purest senses–in depth when we curated a sale with the hotel for Joss & Main, and also got a chance to talk through it with its proprietors. Here’s what they had to say about about what makes the look (and the location) of Planters Inn so special.
How would you describe the essence of Charleston as a city?
In Charleston, history is not relegated to a plaque on a landmark. Instead, it is a sense of place—a connection to the past—that lives in the hearts of locals, is apparent in regional traditions, graces the facades of homes, punctuates the vernacular, and seasons the food. While Charleston is indeed a veritable living museum, and stunningly so with one of the largest and best-preserved historic districts in the nation; it is also a bustling epicenter of culture, invigorating outdoor activity, and acclaimed dining.
Manicured public parks and glimmers of private gardens turn Charleston into a botanical wonderland, where the delicate aromas of tea olive trees and Carolina Jessamine vines dance amid the sea breezes. The harmony of church bells resonates with the hum of the city, and the sidewalks are made of blue slate. These are the details that reveal themselves when the Charleston peninsula is explored on foot.
How would you describe the city’s style?
With her confection-colored antebellum mansions and charming seaside ambiance, Charleston is an enclave of easy elegance that remains untouched by fad or fashion. A repository for decorative arts, Charleston exists as one of North America’s most architecturally significant destinations. Called the Holy City, a nod to the many church steeples that dominate the city skyline, Charleston is a preservationist’s muse with three centuries of well-preserved history on display at every turn.
Charleston is an undeniably picturesque place—a sumptuous visual feast! Beneath this beguiling patina is an energetic current of passionate people committed to creating a beautiful community for generations to come.
The Charleston aesthetic is a beguiling mix of time-tested beauty that has been lovingly preserved with a flair for energetic entertaining. Charleston’s restaurant scene is so vibrant, dining is a form of nightly entertainment!
How are both the essence and style of Charleston reflected at Planters Inn?
Planters Inn is a reflection of its unique legacy and location. From flickering carriage lanterns to Gullah sweetgrass baskets, the intimate 64-room Inn is a harmonious blend of Lowcountry inspiration and understated elegance. With a courtyard shaded by palmetto and crepe myrtle trees, column-lined piazzas, and distinctively residential details, Planters Inn is a polished homage to an authentic antebellum Charleston mansion.
When the Planters Inn building was erected in 1844, Charleston was undoubtedly one of the most cosmopolitan cities in North America thanks in part to wealthy merchants, who parlayed Antebellum Era fortunes into pivotal achievements. America’s first public market, first golf course, first theatre, first public museum, first fireproof building, and first passenger steam locomotive were all milestones achieved by Charlestonians. From early days, the Holy City has been endowed with musical societies, literary salons, fraternal organizations, and academic institutions—all of which endowed Charleston with the lively and very social community that exists today.
The Planters Inn property dates to 1844. Did that influence the interior design decisions?
The Planters Inn is protected by a façade easement held by the Historic Charleston Foundation that guarantees the building’s historic, colonial exterior architecture will never be altered.
The entire hotel has been lovingly and meticulously renovated and restored to reflect quality on a 19th century Charleston mansion. Planters Inn is furnished with antiques as well as reproductions from the Bakers Historic Charleston Collection. Lowcountry art, heart pine floors, fireplaces, travertine marble, and exquisite four-poster beds are found throughout the intimate 64-room hotel.
What was the goal when designing the space?
Charleston is well-known for its gracious hospitality and that is precisely what we have always wanted to share with our guests—a very intimate and personalized entrée into one of North America’s most incredible cities.
When designing Planters Inn, our goal was to create a sense of wonder and a place that would allow us to provide remarkable hospitality and offer personalized service that fulfills every request in an authentic and meaningful way.
How do you want guests to feel upon entering Planters Inn?
We want every Planters Inn guest, be it the first or fifteenth visit, to feel as though he or she has truly arrived at a home-away-from-home.
Every day at Planters Inn begins with y coffee service in the parlor. Mid-morning, a refreshing blend of orange and mango tea and fresh apples are served. Mid-afternoon, a tray of freshly baked cheese crackers arrive—the parlor is a special gathering space for our guests, with its plush seating and corner windows that overlook Market Street.
Where should design lovers shop when visiting Charleston?
The renowned lower King Street antiques district is a repository for exquisite 18th and 19th century treasures, including apothecary kits, four-poster mahogany beds, mirrors, chandeliers, desks, and more.
Lower King Street shopping highlights include colorful bowties at Ben Silver (149 King Street), beautiful letterpress cards at Lily (196 King Street), the Charleston Battery Bench at George C. Birlant & Co. (191 King Street), luminous all prima oil-on-canvas paintings at Reinert LePrince Fine Art (179 King Street), and rare West Indies furnishings at David Skinner Antiques (125 King Street).
Upper King Street offers some great home furnishings emporiums, including Circa Lighting (426 King Street), Michael Mitchell (438 King Street), Siematic (444 King Street), and Lulan Artisans (469 King Street).
If a guest wanted to replicate the style of Planters Inn, what five pieces would they absolutely needs to have at home?
Guests can replicate the Planters Inn style in their homes with the following signature items:
- A Baker Historic Charleston Collection four-poster bed, which is found in every Planters Inn guest room and suite.
- A hand-woven Sweetgrass basket from one of the 50 resident basket artisans at the Charleston City Market.
- Copper carriage lanterns.
- A mahogany bowfront sideboard.
- Sacred Bird & Butterfly reproduction porcelain. The original setting of this Sacred Bird & Butterfly 17th century porcelain is on display at the Nathaniel Russell House, 51 Meeting Street. Exquisite reproductions of this dinnerware and other noted antiques are found at the Historic Charleston Foundation City Market Shop.
Shop the Joss & Main sale inspired by Planters Inn beginning Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 9:00 p.m.