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World's Most Expensive
Southern Comfort: Charleston's Wentworth Mansion
October 1, 2014
Victoria Abbott Riccardi
One of the choicest options is the Wentworth Mansion, the former home of a wealthy cotton merchant, Francis Silas Rogers and his family of thirteen. Located on a leafy side street in the historic district, this four-story luxury home turned inn was completed in 1886 in the Second Empire Style, characterized by its mansard roof. The property changed hands over the years only to be bought in 1997 by its current owner, Richard Widman.
The result of his thoughtful renovations is a 21-room historic inn with most of its original charm in tact–hand-carved marble fireplaces, Italian crystal chandeliers, Tiffany glass panels, and exquisite woodwork. Each room and suite has a cozy gas-lit fireplace, king-size sleigh bed, inlaid polished wood floors, and spacious bathroom with a whirlpool soaking tub and double, glass-walled, walk-in shower. The bedding feels rich and heavy, the window treatments thick and private, and the colors regal–Charleston green, burgundy, cream, and gold. Each room also comes with modern conveniences like in-room iPod docking stations, flat screen TV's, DVD players and complimentary Wi-Fi.
From the minute you walk through its doors, the Wentworth Mansion offers an outpouring of Southern hospitality. Upon giving you a tour of the inn, the bellman takes your bags to your room, where some sweet benne (sesame) wafers await your arrival. Should you feel thirsty, pitchers of iced tea and tangy lemonade sit on a table in the plush Harleston Parlor off the main hall. You also can relax in the game room, in the sunroom, or on a bench outside.
To fully unwind, request a complimentary pass to the nearby athletic club outfitted with state-of-the-art fitness equipment and exercise classes. Then, visit The Spa at Wentworth Mansion located in the property's former horse stables. In a soothing 1,000-foot space, you can bliss out with various body treatments, including facials, a couples' massage, various wraps, and scrubs. If you time it right, you'll be finished in time for the complimentary wine and hors d'oeuvres, also served in the Harleston Parlor. Be sure to catch the sunset from the inn's rooftop cupola offering stunning 360-degree views over historic Charleston and the bay.
When it comes to dinner, you can stay put at the inn and stroll across the lawn to Circa 1886, an AAA Four Diamond, Forbes Four Star award-winning white cloth restaurant set in the former carriage house. Executive chef Marc Collins uses local, seasonal ingredients to create lighter, Low-country fare, such as flounder with navy bean cassoulet and pan-seared banana cake with tropical fruit salsa.
Should you decide to dine out, you still can enjoy Circa 1886 the next morning for a hot Southern-style breakfast featuring fresh fruit, various sweet buns and menu specialties, like creamy shrimp and grits or tender rice flour pancakes.
One of Charleston's many charms is the wealth of historic homes in the Old and Historic District. Some you can view from the street, others you can visit on a tour. But if you stay at the Wentworth Mansion, you can experience, not just imagine, the romance of living in a bygone era.
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