Long before Charleston (a.k.a. the Holy City for its more than 400 churches) became a top-ten travel destination, it was the kind of city where you’d find seersucker-clad lawyers, gallery owners, and surfers from nearby Isle of Palms sitting elbow to elbow at Gaulart & Mallet — the city’s legendary Fast and French establishment — sipping café au lait or Chablis as they waited for their plates of pate. There was probably a dog or two asleep somewhere as well.
Though the city has changed — thankfully, G&M is still around — that dog-friendly culture has survived. Stroll along King Street and you’ll find colorful bowls filled with chilled water; most shops keep a stash of dog biscuits behind the counter. And while not every hotel accepts man’s best friend, there are lots of places where he or she is welcome. Among our favorites:
The Charleston Place
Considered the grande dame of Charleston hotels, The Charleston Place rolls out the red carpet for dogs with its Pet in Residence package, which includes pet-friendly welcome amenities, use of a dog bed, bowls, leash, and collar during the stay, and one pet-sitting or pet-walking session with Charleston Dog Walkers. There’s no fee for pets, but since dogs can’t be left alone in rooms at any time you’ll need to hire a pet sitter if you’re headed someplace — perhaps the hotel’s pampering spa — that doesn’t allow dogs.
The art-filled The Vendue is perhaps best known for its expansive rooftop bar, which looks out over Charleston’s steepled skyline all the way to the water. And while your four-legged friends can’t take in the scene, ground-level offerings are pretty spectacular. Rooms are spacious and sunny; some have exposed brick walls, hardwood floors, and beamed ceilings. The location is great, too, with easy access to Joe Riley Waterfront Park, a popular destination with dog walkers, joggers, and picnickers. Afterward, pop into one of the sidewalk cafes along East Bay Street for a coffee and a big bowl of water. Vendue welcomes dogs of all sizes with a $95 one-time fee.
It’s easy to see why dogs — and their owners — love the historic, 21-room Wentworth Mansion. For one thing, it’s located in a former private mansion set on a large lot shaded by twisty live oaks. For another, the inn’s two-night Dog World package includes treats and gift cards to two local establishments. Though your furry friend won’t notice the inn’s period details, which include original Tiffany stained-glass panels, crystal chandeliers, and a spiral staircase that leads to a cupola and views of the city, you’re sure to enjoy them. Dogs of all sizes are welcome with a $40 per day surcharge, but plan ahead: the three oversized, dog-friendly garden rooms book up quickly.
Happy Days Vacation Home
Thanks to a spacious fenced yard, four bedrooms, and an open floor plan, there’s plenty of room for everyone in this sunny, dog-friendly home, which just happens to be a five-minute walk to the beach. The owners make it easy, too, with dog beds, bowls, treats, and leashes. And did we mention there’s a pool? Happy Days is located on the Isle of Palms, a barrier island just 15 minutes from downtown Charleston. Beaches on the island are particularly welcoming to dogs, offering off-leash hours every day.
Expect to see dogs (plural) lazing about on Hotel Bennett’s tree-lined patio, just outside La Pâtisserie, the vision of renowned French Pastry Chef Rémy Fünfrock. Charleston’s newest luxury hotel is super pet-friendly, which given its lineage, is no surprise. The hotel is part of The Salamander Hotels & Resorts, which started with The Salamander Middleburg in the heart of Virginia’s horse country. While Hotel Bennett does not permit dogs inside the restaurants, lounge areas, and dreamy pink Champagne bar, small canines (two up to 25 pounds) are welcome in the rooms.
Tides Folly Beach
Located just steps from the sand on fun and funky Folly Beach, Tides offers the ultimate dog playground: miles of ocean beach where dogs can romp all day long during the off-season, and mornings and evenings during the summer. Folly’s outdoor restaurants and shops are dog-centric, too, as are several boating excursions and other activities. Book the Paw Package, and for the $95 fee (which is required for all dogs) you’ll get food and water bowls, a mat to put them on, a bandana, a chew bone, and a drying towel.
Featured image courtesy of The Charleston Place