The Best Bars You Aren't Going to in Charleston

Hotel bars in Charleston are changing the game

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Tired of the usual bar scene and standard happy hours? Try mixing it up his summer with a visit to one of Charleston’s best hotel bars. No longer just for tourists, hotels are stepping up their bars, offering custom cocktails good enough to compete in Charleston's burgeoning cocktail scene.  Perfect for locals wanting to escape their routine and take a mini-break without leaving the city, these bars will offer you all the relaxation you want, room fee not included.

Thoroughbred Club at Charleston Place Hotel - This bar epitomizes Southern elegance with the drinks, and hospitality, to match. Try one of their in house creations—the Charleston Place Punch is a popular choice—or, if you’re feeling like a more classic cocktail, get their much-praised bellini, which comes garnished with a large peach slice. Teetotal? Their afternoon tea is also a popular choice and was voted best in the south by Southern Living magazine. Whenever you go, the upscale setting will help you chill out from your everyday stresses.

The First Shot Lounge at Mills House Hotel - Want to turn back the clocks to the eighteenth century? Head to the historic First Shot Lounge at Mills House Hotel and get ready to relax in opulence. Get a classic cocktail or some rum—imported from the Barbados to Charleston for centuries—and regale visitors with your impressive knowledge of Charleston. A good piece of trivia? The bar gets its name from the fact that the first shot of the civil war was fired in Charleston, not for the first shot of vodka of you have that evening.

Blu Bar at Tides Folly Beach Hotel - Can’t afford a trip to relax on the beaches of Bermuda? Blu Bar is the place for you. With the only beachside bar in Charleston, Blu bar is perfect for pretending you’re in a tropical paradise. The cocktail list is extensive—as are the food menus, order the fish—but you don’t need to look further than the island mai tai. After all, you’re living in a beach paradise, without the airfare.

Pavilion Bar at Pavilion Market Hotel - Want drinks with a view? Head to the rooftop bar at the Pavilion Market Hotel at sunset for a spectacular vista. The bar has traditional cocktails and a wine list, but the long list of custom mojitos and maritinis is the highlight. Going out of town for the summer? During winter they set up heat lamps, so you can relax outside even when the temperature drops.

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The Swamp Fox at The Francis Marion Hotel - While tourists stop by because of the central Marion Square location, The Swamp Fox lounge is worth going out of your way for. Skilled bartenders mix up a bunch of speciality cocktails, such as the must-order Swamp Fox, a drink with vodka, tea, lemonade, and mint syrup. With live jazz on the weekends, a focus on locally sourced ingredients and traditional southern cuisine, the Swamp Fox offers more than just drinks.