Beaufort, South Carolina
Inns, Lodges, Resorts
By Claude Preston
Photos courtesy of the Rhett House.
You’ll never experience a better stay than at the historic Rhett House Inn in Beaufort, South Carolina. Rated by many as the finest coastal inn on the continent, this antebellum structure is the defining essence of life for the elite in the Old South. Margaret Mitchell visited this area while writing “Gone with the Wind” and named her main character after the Rhett family of Beaufort and Charleston and the Butler family of Atlanta.
The Rhett House Inn is the ultimate lodging for a fly-fishing trip to “The Queen of the Carolina Sea Islands,” as Beaufort was referred when founded in 1711. The inn is a favorite among many Hollywood celebrities that include Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and Robert Redford, who have stayed at the Rhett House Inn while filming movies in Beaufort, like Forrest Gump and The Great Santini. Celebrity status aside, it is impossible to overstate the experience of a night’s stay even if you do not have an encounter with ghosts said to maintain residence in the inn that was built in 1820.
The modern era for the Rhett House Inn dates from the 1980s, when, after successful careers in the New York fashion industry, Steve and Marianne started the inn, which then offered five rooms. In the 25 years that the Harrisons have owned the inn, its pre-Civil War elegance and stately charm has returned here with great bravado.
I arrived at the Rhett House Inn the night before I had scheduled a redfish fly rod adventure. Despite the inn’s stunning elegance, immediately I was made to not only feel as welcomed as though I was family, but to be informed of my options for breakfast the following morning. I had already heard about what would certainly be a memorable first meal of the day partaken of at this historic bed and breakfast. I knew that breakfast would be a delicious memory.
My room reminded me of a scene from Gone With The Wind; far nicer than one expects to have when on a fly fishing trip. Of course, I was at the Rhett House Inn in stately Beaufort, South Carolina, where the best of the Old South resides. My only concern was the ghosts said to reside there. An encounter with one of them was not on my bucket list, and to my relief, if I was visited that night, I slept soundly through it all.