4-Hour Rule: Charleston

Eat. Sleep. Build a custom motorcycle.

By Shari Gab

Come for the Hospitality. Stay for the Food, Culture, Everything Else.
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14 June 2017

Stipulated: the perfect travel time for a three-day weekend getaway is four hours. More, and you waste your vacation. Less, and you’re still near home. Hence our series, The 4hr. Rule, dedicated to revealing the best destinations that are far away, yet still close to home.

When planning your next getaway, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will I dine on James Beard Award-winning eats?
  • Will I shuck fresh oysters on a boat in the sunshine?
  • And will I build my own custom vintage motorcycle?

If you answered “No” to any of the above, reconsider.

Because Charleston is just a hop, skip and a jump away, and the city’s newest hotel is a monument to manliness that offers up all the above.

Not to mention the fleet of muscle cars at every guest’s disposal.

restoration (3 images)

When it comes to Charleston, there is but one option: The Restoration. The brainchild of visionary N.Y. creative director and designer Cory Ingram just underwent a $27M transformation, and you’re in for a real treat. Every detail — from the dap vintage typewriters to the expertly curated Port Mercantile shop to the local wine selection — weds ruggedness with sophistication seamlessly. On the agenda, there’s lounging by the pool, having a rooftop cocktail or taking a spin in a ‘66 Ford Mustang Convertible, ‘67 Chevy Camaro or ‘70 Mercedes 280SL — each a member of the private fleet available to guests. It’s old-school hospitality meets new-school cool at its very best.

You’d be remiss to not head up to The Watch, on Restoration’s rooftop, for their specialty, the Greyhound. And while you’re there — overlooking the water — you might as well indulge in their farm-to-table Southern fare, from shrimp ‘n’ grits and the impossible-to-pass-up hush puppies. In the morning, you’ll be passing through The Rise coffee bar on the first floor. And it’s only natural to settle into the adjacent garden, a perfect place to enjoy a rosemary latte.

If you’re looking for something off-site, come in close and let me tell you a secret: the best meal your correspondent ever had was at Mike Lata’s FIG. It changed me. The menu is a cross of Italian, French and contemporary American. Some favorites: ricotta gnocchi with lamb bolognese, mustard-crusted swordfish, the fish stew provençal or the mashed potatoes — which are whipped for, no joke, 40 hours. I might add that they have a robust wine list and a fine selection of mezcals for topping off those hot summer nights.

resto (2 images)

Charleston is, above all, a historical mecca. Snag a Martone bike or the keys to one of those muscle cars from the front desk. If it’s a fresh fit you’re after, Indigo & Cotton, M Dumas & Sons and Billy Reid are just a jaunt away. And if you want to take advantage of that sweet, fresh air, snag a boat and shoot over to Goat Island for some crabbing, oyster shucking and dolphin spotting.

But the real MVP here is Restoration’s Open Road project, wherein you’ll be working side-by-side with local wrenchman Ivan Remus to design a custom vintage motorcycle all your own (upon entering the hotel, a quintessential Americana snap of Remus on his Honda with no socks and loafers sets the tone). The partnership practically created itself: Remus has been building custom motos for the past 15 years, and is somewhat of a local celeb.

For a $500 consultation fee (which is applied to the commission’s total cost if the project moves forward), you and Remus will sit down and parse together the bike of your dreams, as built on a vintage model that he’ll help you pick out. The bike will then take approximately 4-9 months to complete, with the final price depending on the donor bike and the bells and whistles you choose to add on. Upon completion, you’ll be invited back to The Restoration for a test drive. If you’re happy, it’s off into the sunset with you (they’ll also transport it if your prefer). 

So while we’ll always love that token turn-down chocolate on the pillow, let’s just say that building your own custom ride has seriously raised the bar.

photos courtesy of Restoration and Steven Rojas

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