After more than two decades of preparation, Hotel Bennett's luxury rooms and suites are now open for guests.
Perhaps more important for Lowcountry locals, though, is that the bars inside the palatial downtown lodging are also open for business — and open to the public.
The hotel first opened its doors at 3 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon, and, by 5 p.m., almost every seat in both venues had already been claimed.
Next to the lobby, every pink marble table was surrounded by guests holding champagne flutes and wine glasses, and, upstairs, guests sipping cans of beer and cocktails alternated between chatting around the bar, taking photos from the rooftop and peeking at the closed-off pool, which was filled to the brim and lit from below with colorful lights.
Camellias, a champagne bar that emanates pink and sparkle, is located just to the left of the main lobby.
The menu — the cover of which, of course, is pink — features cocktails with names like "The Debutante" and "Pink Perfection," along with selections of champagne and rosé, most of which much be purchased by the bottle.
The bottom of the menu gives guests a brief description of the space's origin. The shape and hue of the room was inspired by a Fabergé egg jewel box, and the pink marble covering the bar and tabletops was reclaimed from the Charleston County Library building that once stood on the site.
The bar will open daily at 4 p.m., except for Thursday through Saturday, when "afternoon tea" will be served from 2 to 4 p.m.
Its rooftop bar, Fiat Lux, serves everything from "spiked snowballs" — made with organic syrups and different types of liquor — to avocado toast. Its name comes from the Latin phrase for "let there be light."
The space is decorated in rich blue and light-brown leather. Patrons can easily walk between the bar area and the outdoor terrace, where they can sip their drinks and look down at Marion Square or out to Charleston Harbor.
The rooftop bar opens at 11 a.m. daily and can be accessed from the elevators in the hotel's lobby.
Signature cocktails start at $14, and spiked snowballs go for $10. The least expensive item on either menu is a can of Miller High Life or Austin Eastciders hard cider for $6. All menus, the hotel noted, are subject to change.
Though an evening at one of Hotel Bennett's bars could get pricey, that likely won't be surprising for the hotel's guests. Lodging packages range between $600 and $2,000 a night, some of the most expensive on the peninsula.
The hotel's restaurant, Gabrielle Charleston, its spa and a French-style bakery, La Patisserie, are also open to the public.
Free to look
One of downtown's main cultural attractions is now offering free admission to city employees. With a valid ID, any City of Charleston employee can now browse the galleries at the Gibbes Museum of Art for free.
Angela Mack, the museum's executive director, said in a written statement that the waived fee is the organization's way of thanking city workers for their service to the community. Mack said the museum is "thrilled" to share its collection with "not only visitors, but the people that live and work in Charleston."
Much of the Gibbes' 10,000-piece permanent collection has some significance or connection to the Lowcountry.
The museum, which is at 135 Meeting St., regularly charges $15 admission for adults.