The Inn at Claussen’s: The eight lofted king suites in this 29-room historic hotel in Five Points are the most requested during the fall. The two-floor suites feature one-and-a-half baths on the first floor with a sitting area that includes a pull-out sofa bed, a television, a full bathroom, wet bar, mini fridge and a walk-out deck. The spiral staircase leads to the main sleeping space featuring a king size bed and a half bath. Amy Cevallos, general manager, notes the suites are a favorite for families.
“We are sold out for all football games and graduation weekend for the next two years,” Cevallos said. “That’s with the exception of the South Carolina/Clemson game. Everyone wants to wait and see how the teams are doing before booking that far out.”
The Inn at USC Wyndham Garden: While standard rooms make up three-fourths of the Inn at USC Wyndham Garden’s 116 recently renovated rooms, it’s the hotel’s 34 suites that are in highest demand. The three presidential suites are located in the 105-year-old historic Black House include the circa 1910 home’s original fireplaces and glass windows and overlook historic Pendleton Street and its 200-year-old oak trees.
“Each one has a great view with its own private balcony,” said Andrew Lucas, general manager. “They have very large living spaces – larger than some apartments – so our football fans like those suites because they like to invite their friends up after the games.”
Currently, every room is booked for USC football home game weekends, Lucas said, as well as for graduation weekend 2016. Rooms are already booking for graduation weekend 2017.
Lake Murray Vacation Rentals: Some visitors seeking R&R with lake views contact Randy Walston, a vacation rental property manager for Lake Murray Vacations Rentals, who connects families and large groups with one of the 30 properties the company manages on the lake. In addition to a full kitchen, separate bedrooms and multiple bathrooms, some of the homes also feature swimming pools.
“It’s a wonderful alternative to staying in a hotel – particularly for groups of eight to 10 people or more,” Walston said. “It can end up being cheaper than a hotel and it has all the benefits that come with a private, water-front home.”
Marriott, downtown Columbia: It’s possible the next president of the United States just slept in a suite at the Columbia Marriott when she came through town in late July. In fact, several former presidential candidates have bunked in one of the capital city’s largest hotel’s four suites – Governor’s Suite, Pickens Suite, Sumter Suite and Marion Suite.
Fall is the busiest time of year for the hotel, and home USC football games sell out the hotel’s remaining 296 traditional rooms, according to general manager Kendall Clay. Still, the suites aren’t necessarily going to football fans.
“They are occupied every weekend in the fall but the typical occupants are brides, corporate employees, government officials and festival goers,” Clay said. “With Soda City (Farmer’s Market) right next door, First Thursdays on Main and the State House just three blocks away, we’re perfectly located.”
The hotel rooms all underwent renovations in 2012, Clay said, followed by lobby renovations in 2013.
By the numbers
Hotels in and around Columbia
Hotel rooms in downtown Columbia (11 properties)
Hotel rooms in Columbia overall (125 properties)
Occupancy rates, September through November
▪ 2014-15: 73.7 percent average
▪ 2013-14: 70.8 percent average
▪ 2014-15: 64.3 percent average
▪ 2013-14: 63.1 percent average
3 more hotels
Hilton Columbia Center: The two presidential suites on the seventh and eighth floors at this Vista hotel are in high demand – and not just by families and groups in town for home Gamecock football games.
“Everybody and anybody stays in those rooms,” said general manager Frank Cook. “CNN and other media outlets have used them quite a bit when they’re in town, a lot of senators and government officials have used them and a lot of celebrities request them.”
The suites can actually be sold multiple ways to make them as functional as possible, Cook said. The main living space connects to two separate hotel rooms on opposite sides – one including a king bed and the other with two queens. That way, the entire 900-square-feet suite can be rented out together or either room could be rented out separately with or without the connecting living space. A murphy bed in the main living space makes it possible to accommodate up to eight people comfortably in the full suite.
The 222-room hotel also has 10 junior suites and includes a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse which does all of the facility’s catering.
924 Senate St., Columbia; www.hiltoncolumbia.com, (803) 744-7800
Hampton Inn Historic District: In the heart of the Vista, the Hampton Inn Columbia Historic District hasn’t had a slow fall weekend since opening in May 2001 – especially on the weekends USC plays LSU or Florida at home.
The 122-room hotel, which was fully renovated last year, features eight studio rooms, each of which includes a king size bed and a queen sleeper sofa – a layout that is popular with friends and small groups in town for the big game, according to manager Justin Deyo. The hotel’s prime Gervais Street location makes the studio rooms even more appealing, Deyo said.
“There are a lot of things going on with new restaurants and new businesses in the Vista so there is always a lot of activity and always something fun to do in addition to going to the football games on fall weekends,” Deyo said.
Sheraton Downtown Columbia: Guests will have to act fast to secure the hotel’s new presidential suite, which will be available later this fall. Perched on the hotel’s 16th floor, the suite will include 600 square feet of living space with a wet bar, dining room, entertainment area, separate bedroom with king bed and views of the State House and the Vista. Once renovations are complete, seven more traditional suites will also be housed in the 135-room hotel which was originally constructed in 1913 as the Palmetto Building.
“It was an office building with a bank which we remodeled in 2008 as a hotel and a lot of the features that were original to the building 100 years ago – like the tile floors and the hardwood floors that are in the guest rooms – were preserved and are still here,” said Nikolai Semenchine, manager.
But the hotel’s rooms and place in history aren’t its only draws. The full-service rooftop bar is the only rooftop bar in the area, Semenchine said, and is an attraction for prospective guests. And on Sept. 5 the hotel also opened a full-service Starbucks featuring heavy hors d’oeuvres, alcohol, and, of course, coffee.
So, how much does this luxury cost?
When asked about rates, many of the hotels in this story noted that their rates fluctuate depending on the weekend in the fall – and, in the case of USC home games, even sometimes depending on the team USC is playing.
Safe to say, the rates can vary significantly – in some cases, by hundreds of dollars – depending on the weekend. Check with web sites and the properties for details.