Hotel business is typically slow towards the end of the year, but last month was hardly a disappointment for Charleston County hotels.

The county’s occupancy rate in December was nearly 54 percent, about 11 percent higher than the same month a year ago, according to the monthly occupancy report by the College of Charleston Office of Tourism Analysis and Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

That put the county’s annual occupancy rate at 72 percent, the highest it’s been in several years.

Compared to 2012, hotels in Charleston County last year saw greater demand for rooms, booked more guests, and were able to charge more for each room night.

“December closed out the year on a very high note,” said Perrin Lawson, deputy director of the CVB.

County hotels sold about 31,200 more room nights last month than December of last year, an improvement of nearly 14 percent. Plus, hotels earned more than they did a year ago. Revenue per available room increased by 15 percent to $60 last month.

Hotels in downtown Charleston had the strongest performance last month and throughout the year compared to other major lodging markets in the area, which includes North Charleston, West Ashley and Mount Pleasant.

Downtown hotels had an average occupancy rate of 61.5 percent in December and 80 percent for 2013, both slight improvements over 2012.

Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail