Slow down and savor

Travel

September 1, 2021



Charleston’s allure is undeniable — but for a charming getaway with fewer crowds, head east of the Cooper River to historic Mount Pleasant and The Post House Inn.

by Cathy Martin   •   photographs by Kirk Robert

When Ben Towill left New York City for Charleston about eight years ago, the British-born chef, entrepreneur and cookbook author thought he was done with the restaurant business for good. 

Lucky for Charleston, he had a change of heart. 

“I vowed never to do another restaurant after leaving New York, where we had three,” Towill says. “And then here we are, sitting in this one, with more on the way.” 

Where we are is a cozy corner booth in the dining room of The Post House Inn in the Old Village Historic District of Mount Pleasant, S.C., while staff members dart and dash, preparing for the nightly dinner service. 

The tavern and seven-room inn opened in August 2020 after a year-and-a-half renovation. It’s the second Charleston-area restaurant from Basic Projects, the design and hospitality firm Towill started with his wife, Kate, a former film set designer, after moving to the Holy City in 2013. Basic Kitchen, a vegetarian-friendly spot in downtown Charleston debuted in 2017; other concepts include The Windrose Apartment Hotel in Savannah, Ga., home to The Fat Radish restaurant.

The former general store built in 1896 went through several iterations before it was converted to a restaurant in the 1980s.

“It had been loved as a neighborhood spot,” Towill says. “It’s a great location — it just needed updating.” And by updating, he means essentially gutting the three-story property, reconfiguring the 100-seat dining room, bar and kitchen, and adding lots of tall windows to give the space a cheery, bright and airy feel.

If you’re a sucker for design details, you’ll appreciate the little library under the stairs, the antique William Morris wallpaper in the guest rooms and the imported Murano glass chandeliers illuminating the second-floor event space — an intimate spot for wedding rehearsal dinners, birthdays, micro-wedding parties and other small gatherings.

Decor at the postcard-perfect inn is a mix of antiques and modern furnishings. In the guest rooms, vintage rugs give a timeless, cozy feel while rattan beds lend a subtle coastal vibe. Little luxuries like plush robes, Malin + Goetz toiletries and a well-stocked mini bar will make you want to settle in and stay a while. 

Most of the art in the inn is local: Behind the bar, Towill points out a soulful seascape by painter Mickey Williams of Sullivan’s Island. Elsewhere, you’ll find watercolors by Way Way Allen, lowcountry landscapes by Shannon Wood, and framed photographs from Heart of Gold Gallery. If you like what you see, you can visit the gallery, along with Charleston Artist Collective, which represents many of the artists here, just around the corner in the village.   

Quiet during the day, the Post House comes alive in the evenings, when the place buzzes with locals and visitors stopping by for a drink, a casual bite or a relaxing dinner. Chef Nathan Hood’s menu is updated regularly and leans heavily on regional seafood and produce, with flavorful, well-crafted dishes like ceviche, yellowfin crudo and market fish showcasing what’s in season. For something simple and hearty, order the Brasstown beef burger or the bar steak with fingerling potatoes and John’s Island carrots. A delightful surprise on the menu is the fish and shrimp curry, a dish with a spicy kick that’s served over Charleston Gold rice with vegetables and peanuts. Even if you’re not staying overnight, the Post House is a charming spot serving thoughtful, fresh fare that’s well worth the short drive from downtown Charleston, Sullivan’s Island or Isle of Palms.

In the morning, after breakfast and coffee (included with your stay), you’ll want to take a stroll around town or hop on one of the inn’s loaner bikes and explore the area. The 37-block village district is largely residential, with roots dating back to the 18th century. If the shady, tree-lined streets and rows of homes with picket fences and wide porches don’t win you over, the views from Pitt Street Bridge — about a half-hour walk or a short bike ride — just might. Originally built in 1898 to connect Mount Pleasant and Sullivan’s Island, today it’s a public park popular (but not too popular) among walkers and cyclists, with a vista spanning from Sullivan’s to Charleston Harbor.  

Just a few doors down from the Post House, stop by Leeah’s Old Village Wine Shop for a tasting or Out of Hand, a boutique filled with unique jewelry, women’s clothing, accessories and home goods. Next to the boutique at Pitt Street Pharmacy, a steady stream of kids pull up on bikes and spill out of minivans and SUVs to get a scoop from the old-fashioned soda fountain or a treat from the candy counter at the back of the store. 

If sand and surf are requirements for your stay, Sullivan’s is just 3 miles away — look for a new restaurant from Basic Projects opening this fall, just a few doors down from the always popular Obstinate Daughter. The design firm also has a new hotel project in the works nearby. 

In the shadow of Charleston, Mount Pleasant sometimes gets a rap as another humdrum suburb. But spending a couple of days at the Post House and soaking in the laid-back charm of this picturesque village proves it’s a worthy destination of its own.  SP

Mount Pleasant, S.C., is a little more than a three-hour drive from Charlotte. The Post House Inn is located at 101 Pitt Street in the town’s historic village district. The restaurant is open for dinner seven nights a week and brunch on Saturday and Sunday, with patio seating available. theposthouseinn.com 

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