The South's Best New Hotels 2015
Frequent overnight guest and Southern Living Associate Editor Lacy Morris vetted the 2015 crop of lodging newcomers, from small-town Oklahoma to swanky South Beach.
10 Best New Hotels
The South has long been known for its grand hotels—The Biltmore, The Greenbrier, and The Peabody, to name just a few. And while we love soaring, Presidents-have-slept-here suites and acres of amenities, this year’s best new stays are distinctively small. Imagine cozy spaces (deep, downy beds), personal touches (in-room record players), and loads of local character. Check in to one of our top 10 picks (ranked in order of our favorites, but each equally memorable) and you’ll find these scaled-down stays are no less luxe than their more imposing sisters. Now isn’t that grand?
1| The Ladysmith Bed & Breakfast
Country music mogul Miranda Lambert renovated this 1901 inn, and the result is Instagram gold. Picture a powder-puff pink, bedazzled guitar case; a confessional booth; and a life-size statue of Marilyn Monroe. In a whitewashed dining room stocked with charmingly mismatched antique plates, innkeeper Staci Addison prepares breakfast from scratch (crème brûlée French toast, anyone?)—a skill she picked up raising two future college football players.
Book It: The Ladysmith Bed & Breakfast
Don’t Miss Caramelized chocolate chip cookies, served fresh around 3:30 p.m. daily.
Rates: $200 and up
Address: 221 West Main Street;
2| The Pearl
Southern Living Hotel Collection Property
Rosemary Beach, FL
An oasis of cobblestone streets, wooden boardwalks, and nostalgic beach cruisers, Rosemary Beach offers only one full-service resort, The Pearl. Flip-flops and stilettos are both welcome at this luxurious and laid-back beach retreat. The 55 guest rooms feature large balcony doors, ideal for catching a crisp breeze off the Gulf of Mexico, and marble-lined baths with deep soaking tubs. At Spa Pearl, relax with a rejuvenating treatment poolside. Try the Ocean Bliss, a smoothing Dead Sea salt scrub followed by a healing coconut, lemongrass, honey, silk, and shea butter lotion. The pool is bright and cheery with golden yellow umbrellas that contrast with the minimalist, black-and-white hotel exterior. Family-friendly by day, the area becomes a swank social affair at night. If you want to join the party, order up a Cuba Libre at Havana Beach Bar & Grill, the hotel’s themed bar and restaurant. The bar shares space with the restaurant, and it can get a bit lively at night. If you would prefer a quiet meal, ask to sit on the veranda.
Book It: The Pearl
Don't Miss Havana Beach Bar & Grill’s Bloody Mary bar is stocked with 30 different vodkas and nine different mixes. Try the Whodini Sisters mix—a gluten-free concoction from nearby Santa Rosa Beach.
Rates: $250 and up
Address: 63 Main Street
3| The Epicurean Hotel
David Laxer of Bern’s Steak House fame—he’s the son of the original owner, Bern—opened this food-focused hotel in Tampa’s à la mode Hyde Park neighborhood in December 2013. Here, the beach meets the barn with simple, time-worn materials—leather, hemp, and cowhide. Retro-inspired, basket-clad cruiser bikes sit in the lobby (available daily; just ask at the front desk), and comfy sitting areas evoke the air of class and warmth. Élevage, the property’s 80-seat restaurant, is led by executive chef—and two-time James Beard Best Chef of the South semifinalist—Chad Johnson. Try the Sunday Supper, a modern take on a dish that Chad’s grandmother reserved for God’s day: White beans are stewed with pork shoulder ribs glazed in a cider vinegar barbecue sauce and served with cornbread in a madeleine pan. But it’s not all old-school. Right inside the lobby, the ultramodern Epicurean Theatre is a culinary classroom that rivals any Food Network studio. Lessons range from Vodka 101 to Tea & Chocolate Pairings, and are taught by industry insiders such as bartender Dean Hurst from Bern’s Steak House. You may even get a lesson from chef Chad himself.
Book It: The Epicurean
Don’t Miss If you book on the second floor, your room comes with a sliding door that opens directly onto a communal outdoor terrace. All other guests enter through the main hallway.
Rates: $199 and up
Address: 1207 South Howard Avenue
4| The Brice
Once a cotton warehouse and Coca-Cola bottling plant, the structure today is a modern retreat reflecting Savannah’s influence. Look for bow-tied staff and furniture from 24e and The Paris Market (both stalwarts of the city’s stylish Broughton Street). The muted gray color scheme? A nod to Savannah gray brick, the building blocks crafted from the Savannah River’s gray clay in the 1800s. Pacci Italian Kitchen + Bar, The Brice’s restaurant, serves old-world Italian cuisine using ingredients sourced from nearby farms—even though the interior looks like a quaint cafe in a bucolic Italian village. Try the Coca-Cola Glazed Short Ribs topping a bed of forest mushroom risotto—a salute to the building’s former tenant.
Book It: The Brice
Don’t Miss Take advantage of the city’s open-container laws with a to-go Cucumber Collins—Hendrick’s Gin with muddled cucumbers, fresh lemon, and soda.
Rates: $179 and up
Address: 601 East Bay Street
5| Southern Hotel
Three years ago, four local developers who are family members decided to meticulously restore this Mission Revival-style hotel to its original grandeur. Step inside the lobby, where large arched columns, a fireplace, and multiple sitting nooks are dappled by the sun streaming through a wall of retractable doors opening onto a court- yard. Upstairs, the rooms are simple with bright, breezy design elements reflecting the building—exposed brick walls, wide (original) window frames, and cheerful, preppy prints on down-topped beds. Hungry? Ox Lot 9, the on-site restaurant named after historic livestock lots that dot the city, is manned by executive chef and Gulf Coast native Jeffrey Hansell. The oyster patties—lightly poached in a fennel cream with Pernod, melted leeks, and smoked bacon, all served in a warm puff pastry—are “a take on the ones I enjoyed as a kid,” he says.
Book It: Southern Hotel
Don’t Miss Ask to see the meeting room, Olympia. The space, dedicated to the city’s Mardi Gras krewe, houses fun memorabilia—a queen’s dress, costumes, and historic photos of the krewe in action.
Rates: $129 and up
Address: 428 East Boston Street
6| Regatta Inn
Folly Beach, SC
Staying at this 10-room property, tucked into the Sunset Cay Marina coastline, feels a lot like you’ve lucked into a rich friend’s getaway house for the weekend instead of checking in to a carefully curated retreat opened by two industry insiders. Regatta Inn is nothing if not laid-back, offering the kind of “kick off your shoes at the door and grab a drink” welcome that may make you feel like showing up to breakfast in your bathrobe. (But don’t; that’s kind of weird.) If you prefer homegrown hospitality to formulaic luxury, this is the place for you. Filling three towering floors, the inn’s guest rooms are bright and spacious with a fireplace at the foot of each bed to break the night chill. Their decor reflects the town’s seafaring ways, with headboards repurposed from real sailboat sails and toss pillows in blue, white, and red nautical stripes. Each guest room opens onto an expansive porch with chaise longues or Adirondack chairs—perfect for relaxing and watching the sunset or the dolphins nosing around the marsh.
Book It: Regatta Inn
Don’t Miss Local mate Captain Jerry will pick you up on his boat, Namaste, for a sunset sail with Sailing the Edge of America boat charters. Book with the front desk; guests get a special rate.
Rates: $147 and up
Address: 64 West Ninth Street Extension
7| Andell Inn
Kiawah Island, SC
Opened as a more affordable—but still upscale—option for families and business travelers visiting Kiawah, Andell Inn is an ideal melding of form and function. The lobby has golden leather couches and crystal chandeliers, and all the rooms offer kitchens. The stylish decor is reminiscent of a modern European lodge, not a Residence Inn (which it is). Located in Freshfields Village, an open-air shopping center and dining hub, Andell Inn is a short drive from the beach. Studio, one-room, and two-room suites are all appointed with sleek furniture and muted tones. Downstairs, the lobby’s communal space features a digital art wall, an installation that’s programmed with photos and videos from Kiawah and Johns Island. (On rainy afternoons, the staff uses the art wall to play children’s films.) Grab a drink from the Great Room Bar, and watch the sunset from the Andell Inn’s wraparound porch. Though the inn is modern, owner Don Semmler included nods to the past, including naming the property for the Andell family, early settlers to the area who owned the land where the hotel now sits.
Book It: Andell Inn
Don’t Miss The outdoor space. Cozy up on a rope-mounted, cushioned swing handcrafted by locals Krista and Brent McHenry, or sit by the fire pit and watch the flat-screen television, all while keeping an eye on your kids in the pool.
Rates: $179 and up
Address: 300 Farm Lake View Road
8| The White House Hotel
In the twenties, The White House Hotel was the home away from home for the South’s most affluent travelers. On any given day, you’d see ladies adorned in flapper-esque dresses on the wide front porch with imposing white columns. And on the front lawn, shaded by sprawling oaks, Southern gentlemen donning summer whites would gather for a bit of sport. Today, this grande dame of Southern stays is once again taking her curtsey. Guests enter on a dramatic circle drive (parking is in the rear), where a baby blue 1954 Buick Skylark convertible is on permanent display. Inside, you’ll find a lobby bar with white leather couches and low-slung lights. Black-and-white photos of the hotel’s heyday hang on the walls. In the rooms, the minimalist design with a chalk gray color palette and modern, silver furnishings lets the true star shine—the bed, my goodness, the bed! With a decadent, fluffy down duvet and a lavish stack of pillows, it makes morning your friend because you’re so rested. Even the most seasoned traveler would have to dig deep to find a single complaint.
Book It: The White House Hotel
Don’t Miss Here is a secret most guests don’t know: Try to book a room on the third floor, where a sprawling outdoor terrace with lounge-like seating and a full bar overlooks the Gulf.
Rates: $139 and up
Address: 1230 Beach Boulevard
9| The Windsor Boutique Hotel
In a historic building in the heart of Asheville, this luxury boutique hotel brings unexpectedly sleek design to the town’s down-to-earth atmosphere. The lobby feels like a family living room with plush, contemporary furnishings in shades of gold and lilac. In the morning, fresh pastries and coffee await. The 14-room stay is ideal for families or larger groups, because each room offers a fully functioning suite (with a washer/dryer and complete kitchen). Uniquely customized designs are featured throughout—oversize couches, comfy area rugs, and an earthy color palette bring a cozy feeling to exposed brick walls, industrial lighting, and rough woods and iron. The entire property features wide-planked floors made of wood reclaimed from barns in Tennessee and Virginia. For the finishing touches, the owners went to entrepreneurs from the community: The chocolates on your pillow come from Chocolate Gems, and the bath soap hails from Farmer Jane. In the shared spaces, look for works of art in various media commissioned from local artists.
Book It: The Windsor Boutique Hotel
Don’t Miss Exit the hotel right onto Broadway, the hub of Asheville’s burgeoning culinary scene. Cúrate, where chef Katie Button serves distinctive Spanish tapas (try the Pulpo a la Gallega), is a four-minute walk. Rhubarb (number five on our 2014 list of best new restaurants) is just three minutes away by foot.
Rates: $244 and up
Address: 36 Broadway
10| The Redbury
Miami Beach, FL
The lobby of this property along famed Collins Avenue reflects Miami’s glamorous reputation: theatrical black-and-white tiled courtyard, mosaic check-in desk, and matte black Victorian-era chairs. The guest rooms are more Bohemian. A muted color scheme of earthy browns and whites is enlivened by whimsical pops of color, such as a siren red alarm clock and a gallery wall of abstract art pieces and vintage photos. Each room features a record player and a collection of vinyls. They’re available for purchase—just ask at the front desk.
Book It: The Redbury
Don’t Miss Though The Redbury doesn’t sit on sand, it’s the sister property of the adjacent The Raleigh, which does. An extra resort fee of $20 per day gives you access to its amenities, including beach chairs and towels.
Rates: $195 and up
Address: 1776 Collins Avenue