Luxury meets local charm at this reimagined property in Charleston.

By Zoe Denenberg
March 10, 2020
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Peter Frank Edwards

In the South, even the locations we call “new” may not be entirely so. They are very often rooted in the old—vintage garages converted into restaurants or crumbling department stores transformed into vibrant, thriving community centers.

The story of one of Charleston, South Carolina’s latest hotels, The Dewberry, begins with the L. Mendel Rivers Federal Building, originally commissioned by John F. Kennedy in 1963. After 35 years as government offices, it suffered extensive hurricane damage. Preservationist and developer John Dewberry then purchased the site at auction and transformed what was once a boxy cubicle maze into a luxury stay. Guided by the philosophy “Southern Reimagined,” the design team chose each detail with thoughtful nods to history.

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Some of those ties are obvious: Upon checking in, you’re greeted with a glass of Dewberry Tea (served hot in the winter, cold in the summer). Others are more subtle, like the brass map of the Holy City hung near the elevators—it was crafted by Peyton Averett, whose grandmother worked in the original federal building.

Southern hospitality is woven into the fabric of the hotel. Guest suites, which feature panoramic views of the city, are outfitted with velvet couches and custom mahogany-and-linen armoires. Minibars are stocked with local snacks and spirits. Henrietta’s, the hotel brasserie, combines Southern and French sensibilities with ease—the Cheddar biscuits and the brioche are made in-house. In The Living Room, the hotel’s award-winning bar, guests and locals mingle over chess sets. It feels like home, right down to the doors that open onto a wraparound porch.

Left: Photo: Peter Frank Edwards
Right: Photo: Peter Frank Edwards

After exploring the city on one of the hotel’s blue bikes (or in a complimentary house car), head up to the eighth-floor terrace. At the rooftop Citrus Club, sip on playful Caribbean-inspired drinks like the Tropical Itch, which comes with a miniature back scratcher. Relax, take in the view, and stay awhile.

thedewberrycharleston.com, 843-558-8000, 334 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC, 29403