Photo: Emeline

Come for the Food and Stay for the Rooms at This Retro-Glam Hotel in Charleston, SC

Epic Stays
by Janelle Lassalle Jul 10, 2024

Matt has just broken my brain in half.

“Caramelized onions, yup,” he repeats with glee. “Pureed into the ice cubes.”

You see, I’d just asked Matt — one of the bartenders at Frannie & The Fox, an Italian restaurant at the Emeline hotel in Charleston, South Carolina — what the most unusual yet satisfying gin drink he’d ever tried was.

Matt is a fountain of knowledge on just about every kind of drink, but he prides himself on his devotion to one great, noble cause: getting people to rethink their preconceived notions about gin. His skill was so great that, despite not liking gin one tiny bit, I allowed him to make me a gin cocktail.

Needless to say, it was sensational, reflecting the unique sense of craftsmanship that makes staying at Emeline so special.

Old-school glamor in the heart of Charleston


Photo: Emeline

I’ve stayed in a lot of hotel rooms in my day. I’ve written travel guides about the best hotels in America and stayed at five-star properties in London that the royals wouldn’t feel out of place in. But this decor? This was perhaps my favorite aesthetic of any hotel I’ve ever been to — period.

You see, the entirety of Emeline is beautiful, but its beauty really shines inside the rooms. The look is old-world glamor, complete with soft, velvet couches (that pull out!), plush headboards, thick golden curtains, rich wooden accents, and a record player. Giant floor-length windows illuminate the room, giving it a soft, warm feeling that immediately puts you at ease.

The bathroom inside is certifiably huge: I could easily entertain four of my friends in the bathroom foyer area alone. Guests can opt for a single room or a double with two bedrooms that feels more like an apartment than a hotel. These are rooms built for entertaining, for connecting, for celebrating special events.

A giant shower, marble and white tile with black accents, sings its siren song to me. I put on the record player and lie on the bed for a bit. Time for a quick cat nap.

Coffee, cookies, and good jams


Photo: Emeline

I wake up and scan the room, hungry. I’m delighted to discover tiny touches of luxury, like old-fashioned Cokes in glass bottles and cookies by the record player. I tuck into the cookies, realize I need milk, and then remember that Emeline has luxury coffee machine stations on each floor.
I bolt to the station like a kid at Christmas. A large espresso machine gleams at me, beckoning me forth. I pick up a coffee pod — a ristretto shot — and insert it into the slot. I grab ice from the drawer, put it in my cup, then watch the espresso pour all over it, marveling. Coffee anytime of day? Now that’s luxury at its finest.

Having fueled up, I’m elated to discover Emeline has a fitness center. A number of treadmills, weights, and even a large flat-screen TV line the mirror-covered room. I eye the exercise bike staring ahead at me for a moment before I consider lifting weights.

Culinary excellence, perfected


Photo: Emeline

There’s plenty to love about Emeline — incredible location, glamorous aesthetic, smiling faces — but its most compelling point is its commitment to culinary excellence.

The dining space is split between Frannie & The Fox, Emeline’s star restaurant, and The Den, a hideaway within a hideaway nestled by the bar.

Frannie & The Fox is a wood-fired, Italian-inspired eatery that serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner from 7 AM to 10 PM daily. The menu is simple and unassuming, dishing out comfort foods dictated by the grace of South Carolina. Fresh market catches and seasonal veggies can be found in sharing plates that taste of spring and summer — vibrant, light, and fresh. It’s a great place to bring the family for a cozy, jovial dinner filled with smiles and good conversation.

The real fun, however, is to be had at The Den, a beautiful watering hole by the bar. The room is decked out from head to toe in glorious florals, with flowers, vines, and bright citrus peeking out from beneath the leaves. Skilled bartenders whip up unconventional cocktails (and mini martinis!) with cool, quick hands. Feeling a little daring? Indulge in a caviar bump at the bar.

And just in case you didn’t get your coffee fix earlier, there’s an entire coffee bar adjacent to Emeline’s lobby area.

Charleston’s greatest and most adventurous treasures


Photo: oliverdelahaye/Shutterstock

One of the coolest things about Emeline is its stellar location. It’s a stone’s throw away from Hank’s, a luxury seafood restaurant that’s the stuff of legend around here — especially the She Crab soup.

Hank’s is elegant, classy, a nice place to have a sit-down dinner and celebrate something special. The menu is stacked with every kind of opulence imaginable. Seafood towers and castles, a raw bar, tuna tartare. Seafood platters and broiled lobsters abound — and, of course, the She Crab soup.

Hank’s also has its own Social Hall, an open, airy venue with a bar, dining tables, and plenty of room to dance that can be rented out for private events.

You’ll probably want to stretch your legs for a bit after a big meal. Enjoy a stroll through the nearby Charleston City Market to walk it off.

Craving more adventure? Why not indulge in a little kayaking for a proper workout? Coastal Expeditions offers intrepid travelers the chance to explore Charleston waters with its guided kayaking tours. Learn more about Charleston wildlife, discover secrets of nature, and get a good workout in — then head back to Emeline for an evening cocktail for the truly perfect Southern day.

How to get to Emeline


Photo: Emeline

Get to Emeline in a pinch by flying into Charleston International Airport (CHS). Emeline is only a short 30-minute Uber ride away. You can also opt to take public transport from CHS directly to the hotel, which should take a little over an hour.

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