Updated on September 11, 2015
Hotel Review: Francis Marion Hotel, Charleston SC
Last month I made my first trip to Charleston, SC for a wedding with my wife. She had been to Charleston several times since she went to school at Coastal Carolina University which is an easy 2 hour drive to the city.
One of the hotels that was listed as a host hotel for the wedding was the Francis Marion Hotel. Now, with the point totals I usually have I am not used to paying for hotel rooms but Katie assured me that it was right in the middle of everything and it seemed to be a historic luxury hotel in the city.
From their website,
“The historic Francis Marion Hotel, named for the Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion, the “Swamp Fox,” has a long tradition of gracious service, elegant accommodations, and hosting splendid banquets and events dating back to its opening in 1924. Built by local investors at a cost of $1.5 million from plans by noted New York architect W.L. Stoddard, the Francis Marion was the largest and grandest hotel in the Carolinas. The 1920s was the Golden Age of railroads, radio and grand hotels, and the Charleston Renaissance was in full bloom and the Francis Marion Hotel was “the place to be.”
Meticulously restored in 1996 with a $12 million National Trust for Historic Preservation award winning restoration, the Francis Marion Hotel now combines 1920’s style and grace with 21st Century comfort and convenience in the heart of historic Charleston on Marion Square. Rising 12 stories, many of the Hotel’s 235 guestrooms and suites offer spectacular views of Charleston’s historic harbor, church steeples and legendary King Street. The Francis Marion Hotel, with its central downtown location, is an easy walk to the antebellum homes, magnificent gardens, antique shops and boutiques, and world-class restaurants.”
Upon arrival we took an Uber ride downtown from the airport and I immediately saw that Katie was right as it appeared to be a bustling area all around the hotel.
Upon entering the hotel you certainly get a feel of old southern luxury. Our check in was smooth and friendly and the surrounding lobby certainly had more of the luxury feel. After check-in we proceeded to the 11th floor.
Unfortunately that is where things went south a bit. While this is certainly marketed as a luxury hotel and I’m sure it has been for many years, it is very much in a need of an update. The hallways look old and tired as do the rooms.
As we entered 1125 we found a VERY small room, with a bed, desk, and dresser with a TV. Each of these were perfectly fine and functional however with all this in the room I literally couldn’t even wheel a carry-on sized suitcase into the room. There were cracks and need for paint in corners of the ceiling and doors. Not only did the bathroom door have a big hole in it from the doorstop but I had to really pull HARD to get the door to even close because of the uneven floor. The coffee was also cheap and terrible.
Walking around you will find very elegant open spaces on the first floor (after waiting 20 minutes for the elevator). There is a Spa and gym on the lower level as well as a gift shop, Starbucks and a fine dining restaurant named Swamp Fox.
The location is very very good as it is located on King street, across from the Marion Square Park. From here you can walk to most of the main tourist attraction in the area. And if you are anything like me, being able to walk everywhere is a huge plus.
Any Restaurant Suggestions?
After check-in we walked around for a bit and then had a GREAT meal at Nick’s BBQ on King St. It was about a 10 min walk from the hotel and I would go back there in a heartbeat! I got the Double Decker!
Honestly, I was really disappointed in this hotel. I was excited to be in Charleston for the first time and felt like the wedding rate was getting me a historic luxury hotel at a great price. (The wedding was FANTASTIC by the way). What I found was a luxury hotel that was likely top of the line 25-30 years ago but was now in dire need of updating. I love history and I love local culture, whether it be in the States or abroad, but I do not like paying luxury prices for a hotel that is worn down and neglected. With a new Hyatt Place opening in downtown just 4 blocks away next month I can’t see anyway that I would stay in this hotel again on my next trip to Charleston.
Do NOT recommend