The South's Best Hotels 2019

The Willcox
Photo: Peter Frank Edwards/Redux

There are hotels and then there are hotels. A great one can make your vacation. A bad one can ruin it. Fortunately for us, some of the best stays you'll find anywhere are right here in the South. When we polled readers online and asked them to name their favorites, their choices ranged from the historic to the modern, from family owned for five generations to sleek and artsy. But all of the Top 10 shared some common traits, like impeccable service, great style, and originality. Most important of all, they reflect and show an appreciation for their city or town. You can step into these lobbies and immediately get a sense of where you are and why it's special. From the equestrian art at The Willcox in horse-loving Aiken, South Carolina, to the Beaux Arts opulence of The Jefferson in Richmond, Virginia, you'll feel a true sense of place the minute you check in. The views aren't bad, either.

*Southern Living Hotel Collection Member

10. Williamsburg Inn

4. Williamsburg Inn
Courtesy Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; Tom Green

Williamsburg, Virginia

An upscale property in Colonial Williamsburg, the inn offers plush accommodations and gourmet dining—indoors and out—all convenient to attractions and premier golf. The hotel is a AAA Five Diamond Award winner.

9. 21c Museum Hotel

21c Museum Hotel
Courtesy 21c Museum Hotel

Louisville, Kentucky

You can actually snooze in a sculptural installation called Asleep in the Cyclone at this boutique hotel, which was the first in a small collection of sister properties, all of them part lodging, part art museum. Find the hotel on West Main Street's Museum Row. And don't miss the Proof on Main restaurant.

See Why These Hotels are Reader Favorites

8. The Brown Hotel

Kentucky: The Brown Hotel
Courtesy of The Brown Hotel

Louisville, Kentucky

A Louisville landmark since the 1920s, the brown is famous for inventing the Kentucky Hot Brown, but there are so many other reasons to stay here: the gorgeous Lobby Bar, sumptuous English Grill, and proximity to downtown attractions like the Brown Theatre right across the street.

7. Belmond Charleston Place

Belmond Charleston Place
Courtesy of Belmond Charleston Place

Charleston, South Carolina

This property is what you picture when someone says "Charleston"—elegant interiors, iron balconies, courtyards, and amazing food. The Charleston Grill divides its menu into Social & Shared, Roots & Stems, Waves & Marsh, and Field & Pasture.

6. The Roosevelt

The Roosevelt
Courtesy of The Roosevelt

New Orleans, Louisiana

Don't miss this hotel at Christmastime, when the 125-year-old Roosevelt redefines over-the-top. In warm weather, enjoy the hotel's rooftop pool, offering spectacular views of New Orleans. Or grab a stool at The Sazerac and have a cocktail at The Roosevelt's famous bar.

5. The Jefferson

5. The Jefferson (Richmond, Virginia)
Robbie Caponetto

Richmond, Virginia

This stunner of a Beaux Arts hotel was the brainchild of Richmond's very wealthy businessman and philanthropist, Lewis Ginter. It opened in 1895 and continues to wow guests, pairing modern accommodations with the kind of architecture that landed The Jefferson on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969.

4. Hotel Monteleone

Louisiana: The Hotel Monteleone
Courtesy of Hotel Monteleone

New Orleans, Louisiana

Truman Capote famously claimed to have been born at this French Quarter landmark, which has been owned by the same family since 1886. (Capote wasn't born here, but don't tell anybody.) Relax in the Carousel Bar & Lounge and ponder what the Monteleone was like when the likes of William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams were regulars.

3. The Peabody

The Peabody Hotel Memphis
Robbie Caponetto

Memphis, Tennessee

From the sharply attired bellmen to the elegant lobby and bar, from sumptuous furnishings to those world-famous ducks in the fountain (don't even try to be blasé about the ducks—nobody will believe you), The Peabody makes you feel that you've arrived. And you have.

2. The Inn on Biltmore Estate

The Inn at Biltmore Estate Exterior
Robbie Caponetto

Asheville, North Carolina

If you've never taken a seat near the piano in its soaring lobby and sipped a glass of wine while you gazed out at Blue Ridge Mountains—you really, really should. While you're there, tour one of the most impressive estates and wineries in the South.

1. The Willcox*

The Willcox
Peter Frank Edwards/Redux

Aiken, South Carolina

A sweeping front porch on this white-columned, historic hotel is lined with rocking chairs, while guestrooms look more like the bedrooms in a well-appointed Southern home than hotel accommodations. The lobby welcomes all of Aiken on live music nights.

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