Shortly after my college graduation in 2014, I embarked on an incredible journey with my mother in tow from Northern, California to Durham, North Carolina. I called the Triangle home for an internship that summer and immediately fell in love with the area. One of the many places I had on my bucket list was a state over in the coastal Charleston, South Carolina. What stopped me? Maybe the heinous credit card debt. Maybe the unpaid internship, if we are really splitting hairs. Overall, this fulfilling check off my U.S. city tour in November reminded me of the reasons I chose to live on the East coast and why I adore the South. And can we take a moment to appreciate absolutely zero things there are gluten free?
As you Californians know, it is a pain in the ass for us to get to the East Coast. Between losing 3 hours due to the time change, the ridiculous costs (you can fly cheaper to Europe) & flight times (it's either Midnight or 6am, take your pick!) getting there is a continual pain. The Reale Adventure recommends taking Friday off if you have the ability to. Red eyes are a great option if you are looking to drink 20 cups of coffee and 12 ambien throughout the day, however I opted for the next best option, taking the day to fly. We arrived around the 5 o'clock hour to Charleston's tiny airport.
So before you say to yourselves "wow am I reading the worst luxury travel article ever" SURPRISE you're actually not and luxury really isn't "me" (says a poor person), but good on you for sticking around. This trip happened to fall during my 25th birthday and Mama Reale truly raises stakes as a birthday celebration specialist. The woman celebrated her birthdays as a youth hunting and skinning deer... so I believe she gets a free pass for eternity to go balls to the wall. That being said, we were greeted by a car service clad with champagne flutes and Dom (Korbel, just kidding) upon arrival.
This car service was pristine and they were diligent on arrival time and ensuring we had a comfortable ride. If you are not planning on being Gigi Hadid for your trip, Uber & Lyft are excellent alternatives and abundant in the city & airport.
After (chugging) sipping our champagne we arrived at the charming Fulton Lane Inn where we would stay for the duration of our time in Charleston. The Fulton Lane has the PERFECT location. Tucked away in the French Quarter district, it is located on King Street (Shopping USA, we'll get to that), with a rustic brick forefront, yet conveniently tucked away from the peasants. I say peasants because I rarely get to use that in everyday jargon and there was Sherry upon arrival so it all fit. Can't stay here? I'm an avid Air Bnb user or if I'm living my best life, The Kings Charles Inn. Staying close to downtown, waterfront park or even Sullivan's Island (wish I would have had time!) are going to be prime locations.
After a quick touch up, we set off in search of dinner where we delightfully continued on our lux tour of Charleston.
Prior to our trip, I had a few restaurants in mind as a carbohydrate connoisseur because calories do not exist on your birthday. Happy people just don't kill their husbands. It's all factual.
Charleston Grill was incredibly high on said list of foodie goodness. Upon walking in, the restaurant just oozes old Southern money. I honestly thought for half the dinner that I was wearing a monocle, cheersing "to industry!" at the top of my lungs, and Frank Underwood was our waiter, but you cannot be too sure after a cocktail and wines (plural).
The Charleston Grill is very much worth the splurge. The food is pristine, the service reminiscent of Southern hospitality firmly steady through the sands of UberEats, & unique imported wines beyond decadent. Not to mention the smooth melody of Jazz wafting through the room as the person next to you reminisces about Billie Holiday to which you respond "I love him."
I will scarf down Bart tacos if given the opportunity, but tonight was special. After much (little) persuasion, we chose to do a 6 course dinner complete with wine pairings. It was far and away the best meal I have ever consumed. If you are not an oil tycoon, I highly recommend the Low Country Muddle if you are looking for a traditional southern seafood dish. A complete party in your mouth. It was humbling to see all the California and imported wines play against the southern flair.
After walking back to the Fulton Lane as if we were trying our best to fail a sobriety test, we headed to bed, respectfully. It is worth mentioning that I felt like Kate Middleton's personal assistance (yes aiming low but high here) as I lay my head on arguably the most comfortable bed I have slept in, with the most extra pillow setting I have ever seen.
I woke up a 25 year old, immediately going on a run because I'm a psychopath that uses hotel gyms. If you exercise, it's another great way to see the city in the morning while getting a run in. I know you hate me already.