Wentworth Mansion, Charleston, South Carolina – Hotel Review
The streets of downtown Charleston, South Carolina are lined with historic and iconic houses which look much the same as when they were constructed. Take away electricity and substitute gas lighting, however, and the visitor would feel transported back to 1886, when the Wentworth Mansion was built as a private residence and visits were by invitation only. Today anyone is more than welcome to climb the curved stairs and enter one of downtown Charleston’s finest inns.
From Wentworth Street, the Mansion stands grandly above the road with three full stories and dormered windows above. It is capped by a cupola that offers a 360° view of the islands and peninsulas that constitute modern-day Charleston. A wrought-iron fence, lower level porte-cochere and gas lamps all reinforce the feeling of history about the house, which has been painstakingly preserved inside as well. Guests are greeted by name in the center hall, and, to the side a grand staircase curls its way up to the upper levels. Each evening, guests are invited to a reception with hors d’oeuvres and wine, a tradition that brings the experience of stepping back into history full-circle.
The authenticity of the building does not impede modernity. Many of the guest rooms and suites offer guests the comforts of gas fireplaces, bathrooms featuring marble vanities, whirlpool tubs and walk in showers. The fireplaces are operated by switch or remote, and an elevator makes all four floors readily accessible. Wireless Internet is complimentary throughout the property.
Suite Nine, located on the second floor, consisted of a bedroom with a king-size bed and several comfortable chairs, a separate office, and a sunroom with a seating area and television. The floors appeared to be original parquet that I would sooner expect to see in New York or Paris, and the warm color scheme and dark wood furniture felt luxurious and like an appropriate setting to enjoy a glass of port or scotch, or a snifter of fine brandy from the complimentary, self-service bar downstairs. Suite Nine, at 800 square feet was almost twice the size of the majority of the Wentworth Mansion’s 21 guest rooms, however all types of rooms felt spacious due to the high ceilings and featured light, modern and luxurious bathrooms.
In addition to Suite Nine, there are several others including the Grand Mansion Suite, which is located on the first floor and boasts a grand reception room with chandeliers and two fireplaces. Arriving guests receive a personalized we;come note. A bag of nuts on the nightstand, and at turndown, truffles from the hotel’s circa 1886 restaurant, along with weather outlook for Charleston and home city on the pillow, were a welcome touch and continuation of the caliber of service found downstairs.
The king-size bed turned out to be more elegant than comfortable. I found it reminiscent of a stiff trampoline and lacking support, although this may have been due in part to the excellent Tempur-Pedic bed at the Wentworth Mansion’s sister property, the John Rutledge House, where I had spent the previous night . Each bedside table had a large lamp that worked well for reading, and a side table hid a refrigerator with complimentary soft drinks. The armoire housed an LCD TV paired with what I thought was an excellent home theater system; its iPod dock worked with my iPhone 4S and TuneIn Radio app, produced excellent sound and had a satellite speaker cleverly hidden under the bathroom vanity. What further satisfied my media taste was the availability of clear, high-definition programming, not the usual slow and diluted low-def hotel entertainment system. A gas fireplace was next to an overstuffed chair and hassock that I found to be quite comfortable to sit in, and more conducive to working than the desk in the small, attached office.
The adjacent sunroom could be flooded with light, or kept dark with the plantation shutters that covered the exterior walls two thirds of the way to the ceilings. A loveseat and coffee table faced a bookshelf with a smaller LCD TV on it, and the room seemed to me to be the place I would go to seeking refuge from the world.
The bathroom would be my second refuge. The dark tile floors and contrasting light walls with wainscoting and marble countertops made for an elegant, spa-like experience. Along with a whirlpool tub and separate, walk-in shower with two shower heads there was a separate water closet. Adding this to the remote speaker for my iPhone’s music, I would have probably been just as happy having the bathroom as the entire suite.