Where to Stay in Charleston → 5 BEST Areas (with a Map!)

Aerial view of Charleston, South Carolina, showcasing the Ravenel Bridge in the distance, historic church spires, and the lush Marion Square Park leading to a bustling urban street.

Hello, dear reader, and welcome to my blog post on where to stay in Charleston! I’ll be your trip-planning gal to one of the most important cities in South Carolina that has reshaped the history of the United States!

The best area to stay for first-timers is the French Quarter. It’s part of Downtown, and it has fabulous historic architecture, plenty of attractions, southern charm, and some of the best hotels! 

But stay tuned, as I’ve compared ALL the areas and best-rated hotels in this historic city and have come up with the ultimate list of the best 5 districts and accommodations in each! 

I sorted everything according to interest and budget, so all you have to do is read along, pick your favorite hotel, and make a reservation! So easy!

As Charleston is quite a touristy place, book your hotel in advance to secure the best deals!

Quick Picks for Your Stay

These are the best places to stay in Charleston, SC:


Watch my video, it will give you a visual explanation of all the areas:


This map shows the 5 best areas to stay in Charleston:

A colorful map highlighting the best areas to stay in Charleston, with numbered locations and labels for easy navigation
  1. FRENCH QUARTER: for first-timers
  2. DOWNTOWN: for convenience
  3. MOUNT PLEASANT: for families
  4. WEST ASHLEY: on a budget
  5. NORTH CHARLESTON: near the airport

1. French Quarter – where to stay in Charleston for first-timers

Street-level scene in Charleston, South Carolina, featuring pastel-colored historic buildings, a horse-drawn carriage labeled 'Old South Carriage,' and verdant trees along the sidewalk.

Downtown Charleston consists of the French Quarter and the surrounding area, also known as the Historic District, encompassing everything South of Calhoun Street (map). Since the French Quarter is the most popular area of the Historic District, I decided to give you more details about accommodations and things to do here!

The French Quarter is renowned for its colorful buildings, cobblestone streets, historical churches, great museums (like the Old Slave Mart Museum), and art galleries. It’s a super romantic spot, making it one of the best places to stay in Charleston for couples!

This area used to be part of Charleston’s original walled city, built by the English and French in 1704. They were expecting an attack from the Spanish and built a wall around Charleston! 

Attractions-wise, the Charleston City Market (map) is a great place to soak up the city atmosphere, buy unique souvenirs, and visit the Confederate Museum about Civil War history!

Check out King Street, the perfect place to shop for unique gifts, explore fashion stores and antiques, and try the best food in town! Just make sure you visit during the day, as many businesses here close early!

Charleston's famous Pineapple Fountain at the French Quarter, framed by vibrant red flowers and lush greenery, symbolizing hospitality with water cascading down the pineapple structure

Another must-visit place is the Ravenel Waterfront Park (also known as Joe Riley Waterfront Park (map)), with amazing lush green areas and spectacular coastal views of Charleston Harbor! By the way, this historic harbor is where up to 40% of enslaved Africans docked into America!

In the Waterfront Park, you’ll find the iconic Pineapple Fountain (map), with the pineapple shape serving as a symbol of hospitality characteristic for Charleston!

Another cool attraction is the carriage tours! You can hop on a horse ride and explore the city in a unique way! We have this special article where we share the best such tours! The experience is great, although be mindful of animal health and try to avoid the ones where a single horse has to pull 10+ people in extreme heat.

FUN FACT: The Charleston dance, one of the most popular dance styles on Broadway in the 1920s, takes its name from Charleston City. In fact, Charleston dance evolved from the dances of enslaved African Americans who, as they were banned from playing musical instruments, started moving their bodies and clapping along, thus creating Charleston dance.

NOTE: The whole Downtown is pretty walkable, and there’s even the DASH shuttle that takes you around 3 routes so you can explore the city for free!

Luxury hotel
A collage of three hotel photos to stay in Charleston: an indoor pool with reflective water bordered by large arched windows, a traditional bedroom with green and white decor, and a spacious living room with elegant furniture and large windows.

This 5-star hotel features fancy indoor and outdoor saltwater swimming pools, a full-service spa, beautifully decorated rooms, and 6 on-site restaurants! You can have delicious foods from Southern cuisine at the award-winning on-site restaurant while listening to live jazz music; plus, the main attractions and bars are within walking distance!

Other options in the French Quarter, Charleston

Mid-Range
Cozy bedroom interior with exposed brick walls, a plush queen bed with gray and white bedding, elegant draperies, and tasteful décor

This hotel offers a fitness center, comfortable rooms, and free Wi-Fi, all near French Quarter’s attractions

Budget
Traditional living room space with vintage charm, featuring a large white sofa, leather armchair, green upholstered chairs, and antique furniture against green patterned wallpaper.

Located on Market Street, this hotel features rooms with traditional decoration and on-site parking

Airbnb
The front exterior of a charming Charleston suite with a light green façade, orange door, and bicycles parked outside

This Airbnb has 2 spacious bedrooms for 4 guests, a nice garden, and free parking

Things to do in the French Quarter, Charleston

  • Go shopping at the Historic Charleston City Market
  • Enjoy a stroll at the Ravenel Waterfront Park by the Cooper River
  • See St Michael’s Church, the oldest church in Charleston 
  • Book a guided Ghost of Charleston tour
  • Visit the historic Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon (map)
  • Take a water taxi cruise (if you are lucky, you may spot some dolphins!)
  • Have a drink and enjoy city views from The Rooftop at The Vendue

2. Downtown (Historic District) – where to stay in Charleston for convenience

A serene morning scene in downtown Charleston, with historic pastel-colored buildings, palm trees lining the street, and the distinctive St. Michael's Church spire in the distance

Downtown Charleston, and notably the city’s Historic District, is the best place to stay for tourists! It’s super convenient to move around and visit the attractions, but it’s also the most expensive one since it’s the commercial center of the city!

You can walk around from King Street and Marion Square (where the center of the action is) to the Cannonborough Elliotborough sub-district, where you’ll find the best restaurants and hotels!

For those who are into vibrant nightlife, there is no better place than Downtown Charleston! Here, you will find tons of great bars with everything from cocktail lounges to rooftop bars and even a speakeasy or two. Check out the bars around Upper King Street and head down to Meeting Street, as these are the hotspots for city nightlife!

Visit the iconic Arthur Ravenel Bridge (map) during the sunset to capture the best Charleston photo ever!

Popular attractions include the South Carolina Aquarium and Rainbow Row, a cluster of 13 pastel-painted row houses from the 18th and 19th centuries in South of Broad (an area known for historic homes). Another top spot is the White Point Garden on the Southern tip of Charleston.

In Charleston, you’ll also find Fort Sumter, a historic fort on a tiny island between Sullivan’s Island and Morris Island – this is where the Civil War started! You can take a ferry there and learn about the event that reshaped American history and freedom!

Are you, by any chance, planning a bachelor party in Charleston? If so, I totally recommend staying Downtown, especially in the Mills House Hotel!

WEATHER TIP: Bring a raincoat during your visit! Weather in Charleston can change quickly, and there are often rainpours!

Luxury hotel
A collage of three hotel photos to stay in Charleston: a cozy bedroom with a hanging wicker lamp and a view of the city, a rooftop patio with seating and views of the city skyline, and a bright bathroom with oval mirror and standalone tub.

This 5-star hotel offers all you need for a pleasant vacation with southern hospitality. The spacious hotel rooms have a modern charm with upscale amenities, and you will love the city view from your room. There is a chic rooftop bar and a full-service spa where you can pamper yourself with a great massage.

Other options in Downtown Charleston

Mid-Range
Opulent hotel lobby with classical architecture, featuring blue and white tiled flooring, a central floral arrangement, plush seating, and palatial columns.

This boutique hotel offers comfortable rooms, onsite parking free wifi, a bar, and is within walking distance of the historic district and King Street

Budget
Kitchenette and dining area inside Charleston’s NotSo Hostel featuring white cabinetry, modern appliances, a round glass table, and white chairs

Charleston’s Notso Hostel  has a shared kitchen, free wifi, rooms with lockers, and a breakfast located in a vibrant Downtown Charleston

Airbnb
Elegant bedroom with a tufted gray headboard, framed botanical prints on the wall, and a soft coral throw over crisp white bedding

This Airbnb can accommodate 2 guests, and it comes with the most elegant yet cozy rooms and décor

Things to do in Downtown Charleston

3. Mount Pleasant – safest area to stay in Charleston, SC, with family

Sunset view of Charleston waterfront with the Ravenel Bridge spanning the Cooper River, downtown skyline, and a marina filled with boats.

Mount Pleasant is located 5 miles (12 km) East of Downtown Charleston (depending on where you stay, it could be up to 16 miles (25 km)) across the Cooper River. It’s a very peaceful area to stay with family away from the noise and crowd of the City Center.

This neighborhood offers attractions like historical museums, lush green parks, and great restaurants. There are plenty of waterside hotels, and it’s a good place to be situated for beach access. You can also easily access other areas for day trips. 

Start your day with a stroll to Mount Pleasant Waterfront Memorial Park and Mount Pleasant Pier, the most beautiful landmarks in this area. 

After being amazed by the beautiful views, check out the great museums like the Patriots Point Maritime Museum, where you can explore a retired Naval aircraft carrier and submarine and eat in restaurants surrounded by beautiful historic buildings.

It is not a surprise that thanks to so many historic houses, this area is also called the Old Village. For families with kids, there are also so many nice parks at Mount Pleasant with children’s playgrounds.

There are plenty of hotels in Mt. Pleasant, and many of them offer a free shuttle Downtown (including The Beach Club and Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina)!

PRO TIP: If you have spare time, take the family to the nearby Isle of Palms, a stunning beach resort by the Atlantic! You’ll find stunning white-sand beaches, trendy restaurants, golf courses, and upscale hotels just a 20-minute ride from Mt. Pleasant!

Luxury hotel
A collage of three hotel photos to stay in Charleston: a large resort-style pool with ample lounge chairs, a bathroom with nautical themes, and a serene blue-toned bedroom with coastal decor.

The Beach Club is located at the marina and is the best place to stay with family in Charleston. Enjoy a large swimming pool overlooking the ocean, free shuttle Downtown, comfortable family rooms, a restaurant with gourmet foods from Southern cuisine, and a chic bar. The Beach Club also provides a free shuttle to Sullivan’s Island.

Other accommodation options in Mount Pleasant

Mid-Range
Front view of the Post House Inn at dusk, showcasing its light blue exterior, large windows illuminated from within, and a welcoming entrance in a historic Charleston neighborhood

An iconic inn with bohemian rooms, comfortable Queen beds, and complimentary breakfast serving local cuisine

Budget
Modern hotel lobby with artistic stacks of cushioned seats, contemporary lighting, a round central table, and wall art

This hotel has a nice swimming pool, spacious rooms, free parking, a fitness center, an on-site restaurant, and a bar

Airbnb
Comfortable bedroom with wooden floors, a queen-sized bed covered in floral linen, a standing lamp, and a ceiling fan

This Airbnb is surrounded by lush gardens and offers spacious rooms with an amazing Charleston harbor view

Things to do in Mount Pleasant, Charleston

4. West Ashley – affordable place to stay in Charleston, SC

A panoramic view of a coastal city with a bridge over a waterway lined with boats, showing both bustling traffic and distant buildings under a clear blue sky.

West Ashley is located along the Ashley River in the Western part of the city, 5 miles (8 km) from Downtown Charleston across the river. Here, you can find relatively affordable places to stay and still have easy access to the City Center.

West Ashley is known as the birthplace of Charleston! This is where the English colonists built their first permanent settlement in 1670!

This area is pretty modern and close to the Citadel Mall (map), a top shopping destination in the city. There are also many nice attractions to see in the area, so I would say you’re hitting two birds with one stone for budget travelers! 

Here, you will find some of the most beautiful nature in the city, such as the amazing Magnolia Plantation and Gardens (map).

After enjoying time outdoors, try one of the many local BBQ restaurants here. I also recommend The Crab Shack (map), a delicious seafood restaurant serving local specialties like shrimp and grits!

Despite the good bus connection with Downtown Charleston, it can sometimes take up to an hour to get from West Ashley to the Historic District. This is why I highly recommend renting a car if you stay in this area!

Luxury hotel
A collage of three hotel photos to stay in Charleston: a sunset view of a private dock extending over calm waters, a bedroom with a view of the waterfront, and a comfortable seating area with neutral tones.

Centrally located in West Ashley, Waterway Hotel offers beautifully decorated rooms overlooking the ocean with Southern charm. The rooms have a fully furnished kitchen and a large private terrace. I love the garden area where you can walk and watch amazing harbor views. Also, free parking and free Wi-Fi are available.

Other accommodation options in West Ashley

Mid-Range
Town & Country Inn bedroom with a luxurious white tufted bed, patterned wallpaper, bedside lamps, and tasteful decor

This hotel is perfect for budget travelers with its comfortable rooms, swimming pool, on-site restaurant, and free street parking

Budget
Outdoor pool area at the Holiday Inn Express surrounded by lush palm trees, featuring poolside seating and a clear blue swimming pool

A nice, affordable hotel with highway access, a swimming pool, and free parking

Airbnb
A well-lit living room with a gray sofa adorned with throw pillows, two coral armchairs, wooden flooring, and artwork on the walls

This private bungalow can accommodate 4 guests and has a lovely garden, a fully furnished kitchen, and spacious rooms

Things to do in West Ashley

  • Go shopping at Citadel Mall
  • Take a pint and good snacks at Swig & Swine (map)
  • Visit the beautiful Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
  • Drive to the 60-feet-tall and 300-year-old Angel Oak Tree (map)
  • Take a day trip to Seabrook Island and Folly Beach

5. North Charleston – where to stay near the airport

Exterior view of the North Charleston City Hall building with an American flag and clear blue sky above.

North Charleston (including North of Morrison, or NoMo) is located 9 miles (12 km) North of Downtown, and it’s a good area to stay (with a car only, not walkable) if you’re looking for a hotel near Charleston International Airport airport. If you’re only staying overnight or have a very early flight, I’d recommend staying here. 

Otherwise, this area is undergoing major transformation (homes and businesses are being rebuilt and renovated), and the traffic can get too congested during peak hours, so overall, it can get hectic if you plan to commute here often. 

Still, you can find some nice parks and gardens, catch a show at the famous North Charleston Coliseum (map) event venue, shop at Tanger Outlets (map), see a concert at the Convention Center (map), or visit nearby museums. 

There are many highway connections here, making this a good starting base to explore places outside of Charleston after you land.

Luxury hotel
A collage of three hotel photos to stay in Charleston: a business center with modern computers and golden chairs, a minimalist bedroom with a plush bed and city view, and a courtyard pool surrounded by palm trees and cabanas.

A top-rated hotel with modern and clean rooms, a swimming pool, a gym, and a free airport shuttle. The airport is just 1 mile (1.7 km) away, and the front door is open 24/7, so you can check in or check out at any time!

Other accommodation options in North Charleston

Mid-Range
A contemporary hotel room with a king-sized bed, crisp white linens, wooden headboard, and modern amenities including a flat-screen TV and a warmly lit bedside lamp

This hotel has a large indoor pool, free airport shuttle, modern rooms, and an on-site bar

Budget
A hotel's outdoor swimming pool area with lounging chairs, a covered patio, surrounded by a well-kept garden and the hotel's modern architecture in the background.

Centrally located in North Charleston, this hotel offers a swimming pool, comfortable rooms, and free Wi-Fi

Airbnb
A chic nook featuring a rattan daybed with a half-moon painted wall overhead, eclectic cushions, a round leather pouf, and a floor lamp

This Airbnb has beautifully decorated modern rooms that can accommodate 3 guests, a kitchen, and free parking

Things to do in North Charleston

👑 Luxury price:US$280
💵 Mid-range hotel:US$170
🛏️ Budget:US$110
📍 Best area:Downtown Charleston
🛎️ Best luxury hotel:The Charleston Place
🧳 Mid-range hotel:Andrew Pinckney Inn
👛 Best budget hotel:Meeting Street Inn

FAQs about where to stay in Charleston, SC

A picturesque view of Charleston's iconic pineapple fountain at Waterfront Park during sunset, with surrounding greenery and historic buildings in the background.

🗺️ Where is the best part of Charleston, South Carolina to stay?

At the heart of the city, the French Quarter is the best place to stay in Charleston, SC, thanks to its proximity to main attractions and historical sites.

🤔 Is Savannah or Charleston better?

They both have beautiful historical sites, but Charleston has a better food scene with an amazing selection of restaurants and bars, whereas Savannah is a bit more relaxed and has less of a city vibe. Read more about the topic here.

🏠 Is it safe to stay in Charleston, South Carolina?

Charleston, SC, is quite safe to walk around during the day and night. Just be cautious with your belongings as usual, and avoid secluded and unlit areas at night.

👫 What are the best places to stay in Charleston, South Carolina, for couples?

French Quarter is the best place to stay in Charleston, SC, for couples, thanks to its romantic atmosphere, beautiful restaurants, and lovely waterfront view. The Charleston Place is a top hotel choice for couples!

👨‍👩‍👦‍👦 Where to stay in Charleston, South Carolina for families?

Mount Pleasant is the best place to stay in Charleston, SC, for families, thanks to its quiet atmosphere and family-friendly attractions. Some of the best places to stay here are The Beach Club and Post House Inn.

📷 What should I not miss in Charleston, South Carolina?

There are a tonne of attractions not to miss in Charleston, but here are the top ones:
● The Historic Charleston City Market
● Folly Beach 
● Fort Sumter National Monument
● The Old Slave Mart Museum
● The Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum
● Magnolia Plantation Gardens
● Angel Oak Tree

🗺️ What are some recommended places to stay outside of Charleston, SC?

Explore charming options outside Charleston, like Folly Beach, Mount Pleasant, or Kiawah Island. These are all delightful places to stay just a short drive away.

🚶 What is the best walkable area of Charleston?

The French Quarter in the Historic District! But also, the rest of Downtown’s Historic District is super walkable; you won’t need a car to get around here!

❓ What is the difference between Downtown Charleston and the Historic District?

The Historic District is part of Downtown Charleston where most of the historic buildings in the city are located. So, the Historic District is a sub-area of Downtown Charleston.

🚗 In which areas in Charleston do I need a car?

I highly recommend you rent a car or use Uber to get around in Mount Pleasant, West Ashley, and North Charleston. Downtown is pretty walkable, so you can stay here without a car.

Conclusion

Nighttime scene of a quiet street in Charleston, with the lit steeple of St. Philip's Church rising majestically against the evening sky, flanked by palm trees and historic architecture.

I hope this article helped you decide where to stay in Charleston! This beautiful historic city is full of attractions waiting to be discovered, so make sure you book your stay ASAP. I’m sure you won’t regret it!

And if you’re still indecisive, these are my 2 favorite hotels in Charleston: 

  • The Dewberry Charleston – 5-star hotel with luxurious amenities and amazing rooms and is conveniently located in Downtown Charleston
  • Andrew Pinckney Inn – A great place to stay at the heart of Charleston in a charming building and dreamy rooms

If you have any other suggestions or questions about Charleston, South Carolina, please do not hesitate to comment below! 

Have fun visiting Charleston,

Darija


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