We stayed at the Inn at Middleton Place in mid-December 2012. The Inn is located at 4290 Ashley River Road and is approximately 15 miles North-West of Charleston, South Carolina.
The Ashley River Road is a busy commuter access road. The Inn is accessed by a long dirt driveway off the main road and winds through some private horse farms. There are lots of trees between the Inn and the road which meant we heard no traffic noise while on property. The driveway is wide enough for two cars and is maintained (i.e. no ‘washboard’ effect when driving). We arrived at the check-in building/gift shop and were warmly welcomed by the staff. We were provided with a property map and they clearly outlined the different buildings, where we were staying, when and where breakfast was served and also how to exit the property after hours (there is an electronic barrier that has a passcode that you can type in for all-hours access).
There were four adults in our group and we had one room per couple. Our accommodation was a mix of River View twin and Woods View twin rooms. There are ample parking spaces on a gravel lot (each building has its own parking lot) and a short graveled pathway led us to the accommodation. The path to the accommodation was lit by low-voltage lighting and the building was softly lit at night.
The building was an interesting blend of architecture. We were told that the owners didn’t want to try to recreate something ‘Charleston’ so went for a unique style of building that blended into the landscape; I think they did very well. Each complex has a brick paved walking area outside and an area for firewood (which was covered and easily accessible). We had to look on the doors to find our rooms but found them easily enough. We did notice the building had three floors, an upper, ground and lower level (with the lower level being below footpath level). Each room has a metal stand outside the door that holds umbrellas. There were similar stands holding umbrellas outside the breakfast area and the Lodge. Between the buildings were some Adirondack chairs and a table so you can sit and relax in some privacy and listen to the forest sounds while watching the river.
The rooms are accessed from the central brick walkway. The ground-level room entryways are underneath the concrete staircase that leads to the upper rooms and are softly lit. Lower level rooms are accessed from a separate staircase. We were at the Inn in December and didn’t see any insects/spiders in the room alcoves but this may change in summer given that you’re staying on a river. The staircase to the upper rooms have approximately 20 steps and appear wide enough to allow you to take your luggage. There was no elevator in any of the buildings. There is access to a pathway along the river that leads to the adjoining Middleton Plantation
Both of the rooms looked out through the trees onto the Ashley River and grasslands beyond. There isn’t much of a distance between the rooms, Lodge and breakfast building – it’s enough to give you some peace and quiet but you can get to the Lodge from anywhere on the grounds with a short two-minute walk. We were at the Inn in December and it seemed that most rooms would have some form of river view, however in summer the view may be restricted when the leaves were on the trees.
The rooms are quaint. Both were a pleasant mix of warm woods and concrete and very clean. Both rooms had a fireplace, bathroom, coffee maker and refrigerator and that wonderful smell that only years of wood fires can bring. The fireplace was clean and came with a ‘starter’ log, matches and newspaper as a firelighter. Unfortunately, the wood outside was damp and I couldn’t get it to catch fire. Some kindling and smaller ‘starter’ sticks would have been useful but I’m sure the staff would have assisted, had I cared to ask. In place of curtains are wooden shutters which weren’t the best quality but did the job. The beds are comfortable and there is an alarm clock that allows an MP3 player connection. There is a small (19”?) wall-mounted TV with basic cable. There was a small desk area with reading lamp and telephone. Both rooms have a Wi-Fi connection. There was also a small seating area near one of the beds. We noted online that the River View guest rooms are meant to have a marble bath with European style tub. Ours didn’t, so you may want to check on this when booking.
The bathroom was spacious. It was a mix of painted concrete wall and tile. The walls could have done with a touch-up and the mirror and some of the fixtures need to be replaced but were functionally fine. The tub and shower tile is white tile with a black grout. Prior to our stay we’d read reviews about people saying the bathroom grout was moldy. I scratched at the grout in numerous areas in both bathrooms and found absolutely no mold – I think people have likely confused the black grout with mold. The tub is absolutely huge! One of our group is over 6’4” and couldn’t touch the end! The shower head is a bit low, but not ridiculously so. Although a bit dated, the bathroom was clean and met our needs.
There is a manager’s reception at the Lodge in the evening. The staff was welcoming and provided free drinks (soft drinks, wine or beer) and provided some hors d’oeuvres (taquitos, fruit, crackers, cheese, etc). The lounge had a fireplace and comfortable seating. Downstairs there was an area that provided some paperback books and board games, plus a chess set.
A continental breakfast was included and provided a wide variety that should meet most people’s needs. It included muffins, bagels, toast, oatmeal, yogurt, cereals, fruit, various beverages (cranberry, orange and apple juice) and coffee/tea. While we were there, they had a variety of seasonal items including egg nog and warm apple cider. They also had apple butter and a variety of jams available. The restaurant was a short walk from our accommodation and was spacious, clean and bright with large windows overlooking a pond and a forested area. The restaurant staff was very pleasant and attentive. There was the option of paying for a cooked breakfast, but we didn’t choose to do this.
There are a few things to rent, such as bicycles and kayaks, but we didn’t do this. There is also an outdoor swimming pool that looked clean.
The few issues we did have during our stay were quickly and professionally resolved by the staff. For example, one of the window shutters in our room broke and as they were unable to fix it that evening (it broke around 6pm) they offered to put us in another room – we were happy to wait until the next day but they were very apologetic for any inconvenience this caused.
We felt that staying at the Inn was like staying in a national park rather than a luxury hotel. The surrounds were beautiful and relaxing, the staff was professional and happy to talk to us. Sure, the accommodation isn’t perfect but the location and value more than makes up for it. Included in the reservation price is admission to Middleton Place, gardens, house museum and plantation stable yards, which is a $74 value and a great day out.
I’ve seen several poor reviews of Middleton Place online and can’t quite figure out why. The rooms are comfortable, if a little plain but who wants to sit in a room all day when you’re next to a beautiful river? If you want a 40” flat screen TV with 200 channels, modern furniture and blazingly fast Wi-Fi, go to a vanilla national chain hotel or face disappointment. If you prefer to get outside into nature and can handle unique rooms, wooden floors that have been walked on and a dated, slightly tired bathroom with dark grout you’ll enjoy your time here.
We’ll visit the Inn again.