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A Day at The Dewberry, Charleston’s Chic New Boutique Hotel

There are lovely hotels and luxury hotels and places that are just plain special.  And then there is The Dewberry.  Charleston’s newest five-star hotel combines thoughtful design, attention to detail, and genuine hospitality to create a true home away from home.

The Dewberry, Charleston SC

Welcome to The Dewberry! (Photo:  Anne Rhett Photography)

 

I recently spent a sunny Friday afternoon getting a behind-the-scenes tour of The Dewberry and I have a confession to make: by the end I wanted to check myself in and spend the weekend soaking in the oversized tub, relaxing in the spa, and having drinks in The Living Room.  It’s more than just a beautiful hotel—it’s an experience.

The Dewberry Offers Attention to Detail

Walking through The Dewberry, it feels as if every detail has been thoughtfully considered, because it has—from top to bottom, inside and out.  Housed in an old government building, it bears all the hallmarks of midcentury design, but with softer edges.  The red brick exterior has been given a gentle lime wash, turning the brick a warmer, welcoming grey.  The brass fittings have been left unpolished, allowing a rich, glowing patina to set in.  The walls are wrapped in warm wood, trimmed in burnished brass.  It’s all so subtle it’s hard to put your finger on why everything feels right, you just know it does.  The combined effect creates a space in which you instantly feel at home.

Townscout-The Dewberry-Bar

The Dewberry’s welcoming bar, where master craftsman Ryan Casey always treats you right (Photo: Matthew Williams)

The Dewberry is a Favorite Meeting Spot for Locals

There’s a large, open Living Room that acts as lounge area, hotel bar, and meeting spot for locals. I’ve spent more than one late afternoon enjoying a drink in the cozy armchairs, and a morning or two starting the work day with coffee and my laptop by the large windows.

The Dewberry-The Living Room

Get cozy in The Living Room with a drink or two (Photo: Anne Rhett Photography)

 

The beauty of The Dewberry is just that:  It’s beauty.  You’ll find special touches throughout the hotel.  Step into The Swanston Room and be surrounded by a swirl of gilded cranes.  Look up at the chandeliers and catch a glimpse of palmetto leaves.  Glance behind the concierge desk and find the building’s original cornerstone.  Everywhere you turn there’s a story.  My favorite: a portrait of Gary Dewberry, the hotel’s namesake, just adjacent to the bar.  A minister from a small town in Virginia, in his leather jacket and wry smile Mr. Dewberry looks more like James Dean than the ministers I grew up with.

 

The Dewberry Swanston Room

The swirling gilded cranes of the Swanston Room (Photo: Matthew Williams)

 

Townscout-The Dewberry-Map of Charleston

A nod to midcentury design: a golden wall-mounted map of the Charleston peninsula greets guests at The Dewberry (Photo: Matthew Williams)

 

The one-of-a-kind elements don’t end there.  Fans of Charleston-based magazine, Garden & Gun, will love Fieldshop, G&G’s first retail outlet.  Filled with products from Southern artists and artisans featured in Garden & Gun, Fieldshop is divided into two shops—Hunt & Gather—one a bit more Garden and the other a bit more Gun, both pretty great.

townscout-the-dewberry-fieldshop

Garden & Gun’s first retail store: Fieldshop

 

Get Cozy in Your Room–You May Not Want to Go Home

The same level of care has been paid to the guest rooms, from the ultra-soft Irish linens on the bed to the pretty floral print decorating the armoires.  That print exemplifies the attention to detail found throughout the hotel.  It’s not just a pretty pattern.  Designed by local artist, Becca Barnet, the fabric design features flora and fauna native to the Lowcountry, as well as the delicate white dewberry flower.  Will any of The Dewberry’s guests recognize those flowers?  If they’re like me, probably not.  But that’s beside the point.  What matters is that someone cared enough to think about all of those details, even the ones you don’t notice.

Townscout-The Dewberry-Guest Room

Canopy bed and floor-to-ceiling windows in The Charleston Flat at The Dewberry (Photo: Matthew Williams)

Dewberry Suites

The Dewberry has a range of rooms, from the not-so-standard standard room to very sweet suites.  All of the rooms are furnished with Irish linens and come stocked with local snacks in the minibar.  The largest suites make room for a soaking tub to move your stay from relaxed to sublime.

This tub is calling my name!

 

Another small detail that I loved? Library books in every room. I realize I’m biased because I do this for my own clients (and houseguests!), but I love finding a selection of books stacked next to my bed.  The Dewberry’s collection was handpicked from the Charleston Library Society and is just one of the many thoughtful details that makes The Dewberry a special place.

Genuine Hospitality

I could go on—the recently opened spa that’s lovely and truly meant for relaxation, the mile-high ceilings of the ballroom, the walled garden, the story about the Dewberry Oak—but I will leave you with this . . .

I spent several hours touring The Dewberry, meeting folks, and learning all about the fabrics and the library books and the design.  I was so busy talking and listening that I forgot to take photos.  After pulling myself away from The Dewberry, I spent the rest of the afternoon working and running around all over town. It was one of those days.  By 5 o’clock I felt like I’d run a marathon and I still had plans to see opening night at a local theatre.  Even still, I stopped back by the hotel to get some photos.  It was such a pretty afternoon that I decided to slow down and have a drink on the patio at Henrietta’s, The Dewberry’s brasserie-inspired restaurant.

The Dewberry-Henrietta's Dining Area

The Dining Room at Henrietta’s (Image:  Stephen Morton)

 

No one there knew I had just spent hours touring the hotel.  No one knew I was going to do a little write-up.  I was just another person enjoying a pretty day, and I was still treated like a special guest.  My waiter knew I was headed to the theatre later and thoughtfully brought my drink quickly.  When he learned I was local, we talked about our favorite local bands and where we like to hear music.  The chef asked if I had time to try a little something, even with the theatre.  I did, and I’m glad I did because the “little something” was a fresh take on a classic nicoise salad.  It was amazing.

Townscout-The Dewberry-Cocktail Hour

Afternoon drinks at Henrietta’s . . . couldn’t get much better.

 

So what does that story say about The Dewberry?  Everyone went out of their way to make my day a little better, and that’s what hospitality is all about.  Want to experience The Dewberry yourself?  They’ll take good care of you.  Believe me.

The Dewberry, thedewberrycharleston.com, 334 Meeting Street, Reservations:  877.835.6530.

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You Had Me at Rosé of the Day

Let me tell you about 167 Raw:  it’s perfect.  I’m not the first person to figure this out, as you can tell from the long list of people saying the same thing–Bon Appétit, Eater, The Local Palate, random folks on the street.  It’s cozy and beautiful with genuinely friendly folks at the door, behind the bar, and everywhere else.  Oh, and the food happens to be AMAZING.  Yes, all-caps-level amazing.  Just take a look at this lobster roll and you’ll see what I’m saying.

167 Raw Review - Lobster Roll

Heavenly Lobster Roll (Photo courtesy of Jessica O’Neal of Plateful Solutions, who managed to snap a pic before I ate everything on the plate)

 

But let me back up.  My friend, Jessica, and I planned a working lunch at 167 Raw.  She was craving the lobster roll and I am a sucker for oysters.  It was a gorgeous day, I found a parking spot immediately (!!), and I was about to catch up with a girlfriend.  What more could I ask for?  How about the rosé of the day?  Yes, please.

167 Raw Review - Rosé of the Day

Rosé of the Day?  Yes, Please. (That’s my lip gloss on the glass. Further proof I was enjoying myself . . .)

That’s not just any rosé, by the way.  The folks at 167 Raw offer excellent wines you don’t expect to find by the glass.  I love being able to sample something unique and delicious without having to buy an entire bottle to give it a taste.  This particular rosé was the perfect pairing for the raw oysters I ordered up next.

For Starters . . .

The raw bar has a daily menu of oysters, organized by their size and saltiness, which is genius.  I left the choosing to the experts, with the only caveat being that whatever they served up be “super salty.”  They were:  A half dozen Thatch Island and Standish Shore oysters, briny as briny can be, with one of the best mignonettes I’ve come across.  Something about the vinegar and fairy dust of that mignonette brought out the flavors of the oysters in the most perfect way.  I know a lot of folks go with cocktail sauce and horseradish, but trust me on this.  Mignonette, all the way.

raw oysters

The raw bar sampler.  Photo: 167 Raw, because I was too busy eating to take a photo myself.

 

Did I mention that Jessica was running late?  Giving me more time to try out the menu?  Well, she was, and I was hungry.  So, next up, gazpacho!  I will be honest, I’m not a huge gazpacho fan.  But it was hot outside and a chilled soup with ginger-poached shrimp sounded like a good idea.  It was.  This isn’t your run-of-the mill, tomato-based gazpacho.  It’s shrimp and carrots and a drizzle of olive oil and, really, just flat-out delicious.

167 Raw Review - Gazpacho

Gazpacho with ginger-poached shrimp.

 

All the Rest .  . .

I was about halfway through the gazpacho when Jessica arrived, and now she was the one who was starving.  Lobster roll for her, carnitas taco for me.  Let’s talk about the lobster roll.  It’s pricey at $27, but it is A LOT of lobster.  And it’s on a brioche bun.  And is insanely good.  Because Jessica is a generous, kind person, she insisted that I try a bite.  All I can say is, if I had ordered that and had it all to myself, I’m not sure I could have been as generous of heart and plate as she was.

Fortunately, I had carnitas to distract me from the buttery brioche lobster goodness.  Are you wondering why I ordered pork at a raw bar?  I wondered that myself, at first.  But I love carnitas and the carnitas at 167 Raw are real carnitas, as in slow cooked, then fried for an extra bit of crunchiness.  They are heaven in a corn tortilla.  End of story.

But not end of lunch!  For the record, my daily life does not involve fancy lunches with wine, lobster and oysters.  Case in point:  today’s spread of leftover veggie soup, Ritz crackers, and water from a Mason jar.  That said, when the opportunity presents itself, why not make the most of it?  We finished off lunch with a slice of key lime pie.  Served up plain and simple, it artfully balanced sweet, salty, and sour and was the perfect end to a lovely lunch.

167 Raw Review - Key Lime Pie

Sweet and a-little-bit-sour end to a perfect lunch.

 

Are you hungry yet?  Get over to 167 Raw pronto.  I hear they have a rosé with your name on it.

167 Raw, 289 E. Bay St., Mon.-Sat. 11-10, 843.579.4997, www.167raw.com

Fallen In Love with Charleston’s Best New Restaurant: Spero

There is no shortage of good places to eat in Charleston. You can barely walk down the street without finding an out-of-the-way bakery with out-of-this-world pastries, the locals’ favorite pizza spot, and a throwback parlor serving up deluxe versions of ice cream, hot dogs, and tots. That street—Saint Philip—actually exists, and I’m only describing a few blocks of it. Turn the corner and there’s more where that came from.

Parlor Deluxe, 207A St. Phillip St.

But sometimes you find a spot that’s special, that feels like home (if your home churned out sweet potato ice cream), where everyone feels like an old friend.  When you call and say, “This is Jen, can you save me a bird?” they know not only who you are, but also that you’re probably going to want a little kale salad to go with that bird—a.k.a. the magically delicious whole fried chicken they serve up every now and again.

That place is Spero and you should go there while you still can, before the word gets out and finding a table in its cozy space becomes pretty near impossible.  [Note:  It’s probably too late.  Spero was just named Charleston’s best new restaurant . . . the secret it out!]

Spero, Restaurant, Charleston

What makes Spero so special? Well, not to be too obvious, but the food is pretty amazing. A fried chicken sandwich that will bring tears to your eyes. Local clams taking a swim in a sweet and smoky broth (you’ll want extra bread to soak up every last bit). Roasted sweet potatoes and an aioli that is so good you may find yourself cleaning the bowl with your fingers. Not that I would know.

The menu changes often, which can be bittersweet. Something new to love? Yes. Always. Mourning the loss of brisket-filled steamed buns from heaven? Yes. Something tells me I will find a way to go on, though.

Kale Salad & PBR, Spero

Kale Salad & PBR

Spero, Restaurant

Clams & Sauce & Stuff

 

It’s not just the food, though. It’s the fact that everyone who works there is having a good time and wants you to do the same; that the Beastie Boys and George Clinton both make appearances on the menu; and that the wine list includes an insane muscadet alongside flights of Miller High Life. Executive Chef R.J. Moody and self-appointed El Jefe Rob Laudicina are clearly having a ball. Why not join them?

Spero is fun, a little irreverant, and the place I take everyone: my teenage daughters, my hip friends from Brooklyn, and—soon!—my 77-year-old, 100% Southern dad. He’ll love it. Everyone does.

Spero, Restaurant, Charleston

Spero, 616 Meeting St. #word

 

Spero, Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.; 616 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC 29403; limited reservations: 843.203.3255; www.sperocharleston.com.  Fabulous photos courtesy of Jonathan Boncek.

 

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