Designers and restaurateurs, Ben and Kate Towill - founders of Charleston-based studio, Basic Projects - share an insider's guide to their beloved South Carolina city.




With its elegant well-preserved facades, cobblestone streets, live music and excellent food scene, Charleston typifies much of the romance and atmosphere of America's Antebellum South. Designers Ben and Kate Towill - who founded Charleston-based hospitality and design firm, Basic Projects, when they moved from New York City  - share their favorite spots and insider tips. Read on for cosy waterside dining, atmospheric hotels and guest houses, galleries to browse and the pair's 'what not to miss' tips.

Where to Stay

The Post House Inn: A quaint seven-bedroom inn and coastal tavern housed in a building dating back to 1896. It's located in the historic neighborhood, Old Village, just 10 minutes from downtown Charleston. The surrounding streets will make you feel like you are stepping back in time, and this is also where hit Hollywood film, The Notebook, was filmed, making it even more idyllic.

The Dewberry: A mid-century landmark centrally located in downtown Charleston. The hotel has 154 guest rooms, all beautifully designed with an amazing rooftop bar (The Citrus Club) where the cocktails are delightful.


Where to Eat 

Harken Cafe: A true hideaway nestled on a quiet area of Queen Street, just around the corner from the famous cobblestone streets and historic French Quarter. The cafe has a subtle Parisian influence with delicious pastries and treats - we love the avocado cake!

Basic Kitchen: The perfect place to stop after a morning shopping King Street's locally-owned stores and galleries. The menu is veggie-forward, serving honest food that is good for you. The Basic Bowl paired with a Beet Margarita is not to be missed!

Sullivan’s Fish Camp: One of the newcomers to Sullivan’s Island, and our third restaurant. Spend the morning walking on the beach from Fort Moultrie to the Sullivan’s Island lighthouse and then grab a spot on the restaurant’s patio for a Lobster Roll and frozen Pina Colada. 

Babas: Babas (two locations in town) is an old world cafe and bar with exceptional cocktails and wines. We love taking friends and visitors to their downtown location on Cannon Street for happy hour, and grabbing a small table on the sidewalk.

Chez Nous: A tiny neighborhood spot serving classic French fare in a restored old house. Each day, the chef writes out the menu by hand: two appetizers, two entrees, and two desserts.

167 Raw: A New-England style Oyster Bar and a real locals' secret. It’s always busy, so put your name on the waitlist and walk down the street to Bin 152 Wine Bar while you wait - one of Charleston’s oldest wine bars with over 200 bottles to choose from. Their meat and cheese boards are delicious!


Where to Shop 

Buxton Books: A lovely independent bookstore and a dream destination for book lovers with an impressive schedule of author events.

Croghan’s Jewel Box: A 100-year-old family-owned jewelry store with some of the most unique jewelry, antique finds, and special gifts for any occasion.

WORTHWHILE: An artfully-curated shop with thoughtfully and responsibly made clothing and objects from independent designers and makers all over the world. The shop is housed in an early 19th-century building in the historic district of downtown Charleston.

 A Maker’s Post: You'll feel like you are stepping into a magical garden here. A Maker's Post offers a curated collection of artisan-crafted goods, art plants and flowers, home decor, and more.

Hampden Clothing: One of the most fashion-forward boutiques in town.

What to See & Do 

Church Street & White Point Garden: Grab a homemade baguette and bottle of wine at Goat Sheep Cow on Church St - be sure to get there early as they only make 40 sandwiches a day. Walk down charming Church St and you’ll end up at White Point Garden in the Battery.

Walk & Talk: If you want to learn a bit about Charleston’s rich history while walking the gorgeous streets, join Walk & Talk’s wonderful tour guide, Tyler, for an entertaining and informative scoop of our beautiful city. The two-hour tour dives into the stories of Charleston’s character and characters, as they link to the architectural fabric of the historic district.

Safe Harbor Marina: Take a walk around Safe Harbor Marina, one of the biggest deep water marinas along the southeast coastline and a favorite pit-stop for superyachts making their way from Maine to Florida.

Art Galleries: Two galleries in town that we love are Mickey Williams Gallery - he is a landscape artist based on Sullivan’s Island - and Jill Hooper Fine Art, a talented local painter who splits her time between Charleston and London. Both Mickey and Jill have galleries on Broad St in downtown, and a unique style specific to Charleston.

Fly Fishing: Charleston is surrounded by so much water and getting out to explore it is a must. For the best fly fishing, Capt. Chris Wilson knows all the hidden spots - or catch golden hour in the Charleston Harbor by booking a charter through Charleston Sailing School.

Working Out: Charleston is definitely a food and drink town, but it is actually a lot healthier than people might think. We love beginning our mornings at The Works or Ethos Athletic Club which offers daily “Out of Towner” passes.

What Not to Miss

Live Music
Be sure to catch live music at The Refinery; they just opened an outdoor amphitheater and always have a stellar line-up of artists. Also, The Royal American, a locals' favorite.

Pitt Street Bridge
A must-visit when exploring Charleston; grab complimentary bikes at Post House Inn (see 'Where to Stay') and ride down the spanish-moss filled streets to Pitt Street Bridge, which used to be the only connector between Mount Pleasant and Sullivan’s Island. After your ride, enjoy a cocktail on the Post House patio and order a Backbar Cheeseburgers - arguably one of the best in town.

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