Embassy Suites Charleston - Historic Charleston Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Across the street from Marion Square, the upper-middle-range Embassy Suites Charleston is housed in the original Citadel Military College that looks like an aged fortress. The lobby, with an oddly placed array of plants, oriental rugs, and chairs, isn't as inviting as some other Charleston hotels, but the Historic Downtown location and the large suites -- complete with separate living rooms, wet bars, mini-fridges, and microwaves -- are the highlight.
Hampton Inn Charleston-Historic District Rating: 2.5 Pearls
The 171 rooms of this former 19th-century railroad warehouse aren't ultra luxurious, but they're quaint, clean, and comfortable, with warm-colored walls, soft lighting, and mahogany furniture. The hotel's decor is showing signs of wear, though, like nicks on the wood and some peeling paint. Located on the edge of the Historic Downtown, this mid-range property isn't in the midst of the action, but free trolley service nearby provides a fast way to travel to the heart of the district, and a few restaurants are within walking distance. There's also an outdoor pool on-site -- a perk for families.
Residence Inn Charleston Downtown/Riverview Rating: 3.0 Pearls
The mid-range Residence Inn is located on the west bank of Ashley River, a 10-minute drive from Charleston's Historic District. It has the standard amenities of a chain hotel of its category -- a smallish but modern fitness center, a heated saltwater pool, and generic decor with some colorful touches. But the spacious studios and suites, all with full kitchens and pull-out sofas, and the great freebies (hot breakfast, parking, Wi-Fi, evening shuttle to historic downtown) make this property a great value pick for those whose priority isn't being within walking distance to the attractions.
Tides Folly Beach Rating: 3.0 Pearls
As an updated relic beach resort, the Tides Folly Beach is a solid mid-level property that's notably clean and modern. The facelift shows in each of the 132 rooms, which have bright, lively décor featuring bamboo headboards, sky blue walls and flat-screen TVs. Most rooms have balconies that are slim but offer impressive ocean views. The only thing holding it back is the lack of amenities: There's no spa on-site and the fitness center is underwhelming. But the city is just a short drive away, making it ideal for couples or families looking to break up tours of Historic Charleston with days on the beach.