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“What a dump!” 1 of 5 stars
Review of Francis Marion Hotel

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Francis Marion Hotel
3.5 of 5 Hotel   |   387 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403   |  
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Sweet Summer Stroll
Ranked #27 of 58 Hotels in Charleston
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“What a dump!”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed August 24, 2004

My wife and I recently stayed at the Francis Marion. We knew little about the hotel before checking in. The lobby is quite grand and the Swamp Fox restaurant is just wonderful. The room we were given was in bad repair and the staff was in no mood to fix things. For the rate we were paying the room was only slightly larger than the uncomfortable bed. Our stay at this hotel was the only negative of our visit to Charleston

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1,677 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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A TripAdvisor Member
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 24, 2004

We found this hotel through Priceline and only paid $80 a night. I was scared that it would be a little bit "sketchy", judging by the price we got and some of the reviews. I was SO surprised!

This hotel was SO charming and absolutely beautiful. The lobby is magnificent and it feels like you are walking straight into the 1920s. Same for the room... we both gasped when we walked in! We were totally captivated by the old-fashioned wallpaper, antique furniture, elegant white down Duvet comforter and GORGEAUS views! Yes, the room was quite small and the bathroom was tiny and very old-fashioned, but that only added to the quaintness.

Here are my suggestions:

-Call ahead to guarantee what type of room (non-smoking, queen or king, corner room, etc) you want several times before your trip (I called three times, just to make sure, and they had noted each time I called, so when we checked in, they very graciously accommodated our requests).

-Ask for a 7th floor or higher room... the views are gorgeaus!

-Bring a cooler if you wish to keep drinks and other items cold (no refrigerators)

-Ask for a room that overlooks Marion Square park if possible... it is lovely!

(Do keep in mind that your requests can't be guaranteed, depending on how heavily they are booked. Of course, we checked in on "freshman check-in weekend" at College of Charleston so the hotel was totally booked, and we still got our requests.)

And most of all, don't come here expecting a modern Best Western or Holiday Inn! If you really want to experience the southern charisma that Charleston is known for, this it the hotel you want to stay in... it just exudes charm and history!

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Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 15, 2004

ELEGANT! We were totally delighted with the hotel and our room. We stayed at the Hampton Inn downtown last year and we were "disappointed". We took a chance on the Francis Marion and, after reading some comments on-line from others who had stayed there, we were apprehensive --- BUT we were very, very pleased with everything! We will definitely stay there again. I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't love the hotel. It is an older hotel and has retained that charm. The room was small, but not as small as the room we had in the Hampton Inn in Charleston last year. The Francis Marion had all of the elegance we expected. Beautiful wallpapered walls (I did find a few loose ends - but I live in a 100 year old house w/plaster walls & I wouldn't want anyone looking for my loose ends), glorious down comforters, a very nice view from the 4th floor corner room. The bath was beautiful w/marble tile, pedistal sink, etc - since I left my bustle at home this trip, I didn't have any trouble using the facilities in the bath - Why would anyone want to visit Charleston and not stay in a place that takes you back to another era is beyond me. Our entire experience was more a 4-star instead of the 3-star we bargained for. The soaps were citrus & the towels were lush - and - I found myself doing the "Charleston" down the hallways. :o) Stay there and enjoy yourself - you will be hard pressed to find a more convenient place with as much charm. Why anyone would want a bigger room is beyond me - we were out on the streets walking, shopping & eating from daylight til after dark. Our room was comfy, cozy & super quiet for our much needed rest at the end of the day. WE LOVED IT!!

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A TripAdvisor Member
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 12, 2004

After reading some posted reviews i was afraid of what the Frances Marion was going to be like. However, we were very pleased with the Hotel. Our room was a little small but we didnt come to Charleston to stay in our room, everything was clean and we loved the old feel of the Hotel. All the staff was pleasant and helpful. The only thing we were upset about was the $15.00 a day parking.

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A TripAdvisor Member
1 of 5 stars Reviewed August 4, 2004

We were shocked at the lack of cleanliness at this 3.5 star hotel. I didn't read any reviews before booking our stay there, and simply trusted their star rating. I've learned my lesson!

The bathroom was filthy. The shower had black mildew growing all over the walls, and the shower floor was a very dark shade of gray, though the tile was originally beige. The toilet hadn't been cleaned either, and did not flush properly.

The bedroom was tastefully decorated, but the upholstered furniture was worn very thin, and was covered in stains. It really was disgusting. I think any other hotel in Charleston would be better.

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A TripAdvisor Member
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 27, 2004

My wife and I stayed here on our honeymoon trip to Charleston last week and had nothing but good experiences. We were very apprehensive after reading other people's reviews on this site and others. In fact, we almost canceled our reservations to opt for a much more expensive hotel.

We are glad we didn't.

This hotel is a historic property and thus has all the qualities one would expect - mostly good, few not so good. The location is great, within a five minute walk to probably 20 restaurants along with great boutique shopping on King St. There is also a cinema grill a couple of blocks north which was really fun. Also, the hotel is across the road from a very nice park. The hotel has a parking garage next door - $15/day for valet, $10/day for self park.

Our room was awesome! The only bad thing I noticed is that the carpet was a bit worn and the shower head was dirty. However, the room was spotless with a great bed and fabulous bed linens. The housekeeping staff did a fine job keeping the room clean. The desk staff was very friendly and efficient.

Our room was on the smallish side but had a beautiful view of the harbor since we were on the tenth floor. The bathroom was also small (as was standard for a hotel of this time period) but had very nice marble tiling and fixtures. We both felt the bathroom was more than adequate for one person. Unless you need enough room to do yoga in your bathroom to be happy, don't worry about these bathrooms-they are fine.

I would not hesitate to stay here again. The hotel offers a comfortable and affordable taste of times past which is a must for any stay in Charleston.


  • Stayed July 2004
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Milwaukee, WI
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 24, 2004

The wide range of reviews here scared us a little bit, but we decided to go with it anyway. We stayed in late May. It's got a great location, convenient to much of historic Charleston.

The hotel is really pretty true to its historic nature, both good and not so good. The lobby and public area of the lower level has been beautifully done with lots of marble and dark wood. I've never been to the hotel before, but these areas had a relatively authentic period feel to them. It was *not* the upscale faux moderne generic lobby of a new construction higher-end hotel.

Similarly, and this time not in a good way, the floors and rooms were also *not* the upscale faux moderne generic type many people expect. These are the cramped little rooms which were the standard 60 years ago. The heating/cooling system was antiquated, the closet was a tiny hole behind a door, the windows were ancient, etc. I've definitely been to historic hotels where once you hit the guest floors it looked like any other hotel, and that's good and bad. At the Francis Marion, the rooms are definitely not to the same level one would expect at a newer hotel. If you *expect* and *accept* this, you'll probably be in good shape and an enjoy the hotel for what it is. If you take the elevator up to your room and expect it to look and feel like a modern chain hotel, you'll be disappointed.

Our room in particular did have some of the issues that others pointed out, including a few places where the wallpaper looked tattered and where the carpet was pretty worn. Don't be surprised! But we found no evidence that it wasn't clean and well-serviced. And not a single bug anywhere, which isn't easy for any hotel to guarantee in the south. The bathroom was updated with new fixtures and marble, and was a nice contrast to the rest of the room.

What led us to this hotel at first was the Dinner on the Square package, which provided dinner for two along with the room for about $169. Dinner included wine, salad or soup, entree and dessert in their restaurant. The offerings were from a limited menu (perhaps 6 entree choices), but we were both rather pleased. This brought the cost of the room to around $100, and that seemed in line with what we'd expect given everything about the hotel.

We were generally pleased with the experience, and it's *nice* sometimes to stay at places which are a little different than the standard cookie cutter Holiday Inn / Marriott / Radisson fare. As long as you expect and accept the good and not-so-good parts of this hotel, I highly suggest this place. But if you or your companion are not the willing to look beyond a tiny closet or an old heating/ac system, you'll be disappointed and will miss out on the charm of the place.

  • Stayed May 2004
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Francis Marion Hotel

Address: 387 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403
Phone Number:
Location: United States > South Carolina > Coastal South Carolina > Charleston
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#14 Business Hotel in Charleston
#22 Family Hotel in Charleston
#26 Romantic Hotel in Charleston
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Francis Marion Hotel 3.5*
Number of rooms: 234
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Experience unsurpassed views of the historic harbor at the Francis Marion Hotel, the only high-rise hotel in Charleston’s historic district. All 234 guest rooms including 10 Suites and 7 Penthouse Suites are tastefully furnished for today’s sophisticated traveler, and provide modern conveniences from wireless Internet access, voicemail and data ports to on-demand movies. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Francis Marion Charleston
Hotel Francis Marion

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