My first attempt to visit Charleston boutique hotel Zero George was in July. Bags were packed, the ‘out-of-office’ was set, the boarding pass was printed… And then, the flight was nixed by the airline for no reason. On hearing the news, I slipped out of a meeting to call the hotel, bracing myself for a talking-to on account of the cancellation T-minus six hours before arrival. Instead, I was granted a full pardon and told: ‘when your future plans to come back to Charleston come together, please reach out!’
Well, done. My friend and I rebooked for late October – which, as it turns out, is a better time to visit the Southern United States than in the heat of the summer – and this time, our journey to Charleston was utterly, wonderfully uneventful. When we pulled up to the hotel at ‘0 George Street’ – yes, that’s somehow a real address, charmingly – we had to do a little poking around before we found the front desk: the hotel is comprised of five 19th-century buildings, all arranged around a courtyard with little sitting areas (let’s hear it for outdoor couches!) and alfresco tables for the stay’s raved-about restaurant. But when we stepped into the reception nook (set in a carriage house built in 1804), bleary eyed from our AM flight, the staff were very eager to show us around the grounds and buttoned-up and polished in a way that felt like hospitality with a capital ‘H’.
There was the bar area, where breakfast was served every morning to be taken anywhere on the property as you saw fit, as well as coffee, water and fizzy drinks all day. There was the veranda, home of ceiling fans and a cozy, in-demand day-bed, which was ideal for curling up with the gratis cheese plate and glass of wine doled out during the daily happy hour. When we returned to the hotel after a seafood-y brunch at 167 Raw and some bopping around King Street to shops like Hampden Clothing and Worthwhile, the tour resumed with our room: a sprawling space with the color scheme of Olivia Pope’s closet, all ivories, bones, beiges, and khakis. These are also known as the sorts of hues that feel like too much upkeep at home, but are exactly right when you’re on vacation. Though the suite, with its dressing room and upholstered headboard, had a classical vibe as to not disappoint the building’s exterior, the bathroom was wholly modern: rain shower, Malin + Goetz toiletries and all.
After some lazing around in our sitting room (that very much encouraged lazing around), we took our loafing to that aforementioned day-bed. We snacked on candied pecans smeared with blue cheese, before dipping out for drinks at the Bar at Husk and dinner at the communal table at FIG (two of the food-and-bev places that anyone we quizzed about the city recommended). Next up: flopping into our cushy bed with more pillows than we knew what to do with and pretty, little glass water bottles left on our nightstands during turn-down.
The next day, we motivated ourselves to explore the city more voraciously and after brunch at open-and-airy Feathertop, we tackled a self-led tour of historical homes, booked through the Preservation Society of Charleston. Our favorite stop was a former cotton warehouse converted into a modern-industrial home just off the water. It, like everything else we’d done on the trip, was within a 20-minute walk from Zero George, which kept us on foot and really seeing the city, instead of in the back of an Uber, gabbing and flicking through Instagram.
The big plan for the evening was to make our way through the prix fixe menu at the on-site restaurant, masterminded by chef Vinson Petrillo. We were seated outside in jacketless-but-breezy weather, which felt especially good after an unseasonably hot (and mosquito-punctuated) day. To say the service was enthusiastic would be an understatement: our waiter acted as though there was nothing in the world he’d rather be doing than explaining the liquid parmesan tortellini, or talking us through the nuances of a stellar orange wine. Somehow – surprisingly, really — he also knew how to give us space, which allowed us to overeat (and, fine, drink) before we walked the few hundred feet back to our room.
In light of some WiFi wonkiness (that the Zero George team tried very hard to remedy) and a looming inbox, I slipped out of bed the next morning while my friend dozed. I stepped back into that same outdoor dining area from eight hours before, this time setting myself up with coffee, berries, hard-boiled eggs and my laptop. I owe thanks to the clattering of saucers and the abundant palmetto trees for making me feel more sociable and vacation-y, less like I was playing email Whack-a-Mole.
On that last day, we drifted a little further out of the center of town for lunch at Xiao Bao Biscuit, ambled back to the hotel and had one last glass of seltzer on the day-bed you’re probably tired of hearing about. We then left Zero George, with just one regret: that we weren’t there long enough to validate sending a handful of the watercolour-print postcards stacked up at the front desk.