I arrive at 8.30pm after a long drive from Savannah, and it’s a relief to find the hotel’s welcoming ground floor reception area down a historic lamp-lit alley in the centre of town. Dating from 1911, it has an old world feel, with old style furniture and helpful receptionists. The hotel only has 42 rooms so there’s a quiet, relaxed atmosphere.
The hotel is on King Street, one of the central streets in Charleston’s old town. It’s a good location, just a few minutes walk from the old market and surrounded by historic architecture. It’s about a 10-minute walk to the waterfront. This is a city for walking rather than driving around.
The hotel is one of four belonging to a local group of boutique hotels called Charming Inns. The other guests are mostly holidaying couples and friends from elsewhere in the US. When I visit there’s an arts festival on, so it’s fully booked, but does not feel noisy or rowdy. The hotel’s nearest sister property, the Kings Courtyard Inn, is next door, and this is where breakfast and afternoon snacks are served. There are two pleasant open air courtyards and an old fashioned but charming breakfast room.
My deluxe king room is on the third floor, which is the top floor and is spacious, light and airy, with high ceilings and a great four-poster bed. The view is a close up of the neighbouring hotel, but it feels serene and and private. The hotel was fully refurbished in the last year so everything is neat and fresh.
Reception is always staffed, but this is no place for 24 hour room service – although breakfast can be brought to your room. Reception staff are helpful with directions and background information about the area and city as a whole. There’s no business centre, so printing out a boarding pass required giving all my details to the person sitting behind the counter, but it got done. Breakfast service is fast.
The hotel offers a basic free breakfast in pleasant surroundings in the next-door King’s Courtyard hotel – the food is served a la carte but would be better as a buffet as it’s only toast, bagels, muffins, yoghurt in pots and whole pieces of fruit, plus tea, coffee and juice. The hotel also has a cafe down the road where you can buy a more elaborate spread or lunch. At the Wentworth Mansion, the grandest of the Charming Inns, Circa 1886 restaurant offers “creative fine dining” in a separate building. Its five-course tasting menu changes daily and is excellent value at $75 (Dh275) per person. When I eat there I’m served an amuse bouche of lobster soup and a cube of Wagyu beef, a meaty crab salad on a tomato-flavoured jelly, deep-fried catfish on a corn base, a chicken risotto and antelope steak. The dessert is chocolate fondant and sorbet.
The secluded location up a small brick alley and the comfortable beds and bedding.
The hotel’s air conditioning compressors are located above the third floor, and they create a fairly loud humming noise. When I reported this to reception the staff member was less than apologetic.
A luxurious base with a sense of history.
The bottom line
Double rooms at the Fulton Lane Inn cost from $230 (Dh845) including taxes and breakfast.