Downtown Charleston Hotel & Cabana Bar Provide Unique Experience!
By: Jeff Walker, Entertainment Writer
Lowcountry charm meets South Beach decor at The Ryder, a 3-star hotel that has quickly become a hidden Charleston hospitality gem. Since throwing open their doors in late spring of 2021 The Ryder has garnered hospitality praise fit for a king, which only seems appropriate since the property at 237 Meeting (at Hasell St.) was the King Charles Inn for decades in the heart of down Charleston.
Operated by Makeready, the same local group that manage Hotel Emeline (formerly Double Tree), Frannie & the Fox, and Hanks Seafood, The Ryder much like Emeline is a boutique hotel offering welcoming southern hospitality for those seeking a unique tropical escapade. The Ryder allows a much-coveted bonus feature, providing an under 10-minute walk to several popular Holy City destinations including the historic Charleston Market, Rainbow Row, Waterfront Park, and Marion Square.
Southern Living Magazine, Travel & Leisure, and Apartment Therapy among other prestigious periodicals have lauded The Ryder for its subtle sophistication, with each room featuring eco-friendly decor, carrying warm earthy tones and hand-crafted furniture. Hotel guests embrace the utopian experience the minute they walk through the door, met at check-in with a spicy Seven Day Weekend cocktail (vodka, green chile, papaya & lime) that is not only invigorating but meant to remind visitors that every day is the weekend at The Ryder.
Just a short flight up the wooden staircase is The Ryder’s secluded oasis, an open-air cabana bar and cafe. Perhaps the written message in the pool describes best the overall vibe, ‘A Good Time State of Mind’. Whether you’re staying at the hotel, or just enjoying their food & beverage amenities, The Ryder invites you to leave your cares at home and immerse yourself in their hospitable aura for however long you stay. ￼
Charleston has long been a restaurant town. There is a cornucopia of dining establishments that cater to full scale menus with compatible drink selections. The Ryder and their second level cafe appropriately called Little Palm under Emeline’s Executive Chef Tim Morton have put their own twist on the whole food & drink experience.
Little Palm is decidedly a relaxing poolside cocktail lounge that doubles as a tranquil utopian bistro. Safe to say it’s a 70 – 30 split with exotic drinks the marquee attraction and food a delectable co-star. Nine signature cocktails scream R&R (rest & relaxation), including the Paid Vacation, Ocean Drive, and Easy Breezy. If you haven’t transported yourself to carefree mode the Green Light a frozen blend of sauvignon blanc, pear brandy, honeydew melon, and aloe vera will take you there. ￼
The wine list is not pretentious but carries an affordable upscale array, whether you choose a single glass or bottle option. A glass of draft chilled Rose’ (Côtes de Gascogne or Domaine de Maubet) is a cool $10. A variety of red and whites from $12 to $16. Three sparkling French wines including an exclusive Charles Ellner that is the perfect bottle for toasting a special occasion.
Not a cocktail drinker or lover of fruit of the vine. No worries, Little Palm have a nice selection of beers and hard cider. Charleston’s own Edmunds Oast top the the list with Something Cold (blond pale ale), as well as Stiegl Radler Grapefruit a light and refreshing Austrian amber colored malt beverage. Both served on tap.
Other available locals (in cans) are Munkle Brugge City Brune a delightful brown ale, and Island Coastal, a clean and crisp lager. Both ideal for sipping by the pool or enjoying with a handheld snack. Prefer a pale ale or a nice IPA. Little Palm have two local breweries in regular rotation.
While the menu is not extensive it does lean to the eccentric, offering a variety of lite bites and everyday plates that appeal to distinctive tastes. The Me’nage A Trois is a raw bar triple threat with ample portions of seafood delicacies including five overly plump shrimp with a succulent cocktail sauce, a half dozen oysters on the half shell, and a piquant Tuna Poke bowl ideally seasoned with scallions, sesame and shredded macadamia. Two or three can share this appetizer with select cocktails and be transported to a tropical paradise.
If you prefer some finger popping snacks with your alcoholic beverage of choice, I suggest the chili or lime-flavored popcorn or the Candied Cashews which satisfy both a sweet & salty urge. No doubt the citrus infused Marinated Olives go well with a dry martini or a nice glass of cabernet or pinot noir. When in paradise splurge a little.
Little Palm’s eight signature plates run the gamut. On the light side vegans may opt for their namesake Chopped Salad teeming with cucumber, red onion, chickpeas, pickled peppers, and greens. Carnivores might add fried chicken or poached shrimp for and extra kick. Meat eaters have a few options including Fried Chicken Skewers that come complete with three unique dipping sauces (garlic soy, sweet chili, & ranch).
Beef lovers can decide between the double patty Smash Burger served on a brioche bun with herb seasoned fries or the spend a little more on the Steak Frites (French for steak w/ fries). It’s basically a larger yet thin panned fried tenderloin cut, cloaked in cilantro chimichurri, typically a colorful blend of chopped fresh parsley, oregano, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and red pepper flakes. Aside from the Local Catch and Steak Frites all plates are $18 or less with snacks and sweets all under $10. Good food at fair prices always taste good.
If you’re looking for a full-scale restaurant, one that offers a robust menu of pasta, steaks and seafood, then Little Palm is not your choice for the evening repast. However, if you’re seeking an eclectic mix of upscale appetizers and handheld edibles than Little Palm will tantalize the taste buds, with a plethora of original cocktails to complement each entree in equaling eye appealing surroundings.
Absolutely cocktails go with sweets! At Little Palm diners don’t necessarily have to labor over several selections, because they only offer two desserts. Although miles apart on flavor they’re ideal accompanying your favorite aperitif.
Cocoa bean lovers will have a hard time saying no the Dark Chocolate Mousse blanketed under whipped coconut cream served inside a flaky chocolate-coated waffle cup. Decadent and scrumptious, absolutely! Little Palm’s house-made Pineapple Upside Down Cake comes with a hint of panache, a super moist cake oozing with cardamom (an aromatic east Indian spice) syrup. Go full tilt and down with an aged shot of rum! A nice one-two punch!
Although the Little Palm and the cabana poolside bar are secluded from street traffic they are surprisingly open to the public. So whether you’re lodging at the hotel or just a local looking for something different, Little Palm offers a one of kind escapade.
While everyday patrons are not privy to the pool, they can enjoy food and drink during cafe hours, and lounge around the pool while dining in. Looking for a cool space to host a soiree, or after-hours company event, Little Palm is available for private parties after sundown when the pool is closed to hotel guests. Contact Sales Director Codie Blue when booking a private social.
Having operated the The Ryder since the beginning of 2022 Makeready plan to add a few upgrades and several tweaks. Future plans have the Meeting Street check-in area become a full-time coffee shop with more improvements in the design stages. Irvin Dinkel who recently oversaw Makeready’s Savannah property The Alida is the new General Manager at The Ryder.
Okay, ready for a quick recap. Since opening in May of last year The Ryder offers 91 coastal inspired esthetically pleasing rooms that set the tone for your stay in the Holy City. According to Travel & Leisure the pool and adjacent Little Palm restaurant are ‘super-Instagrammable’. Whether you a guest or not you can enjoy beer, wine & cocktails Monday thru Thursday during Happy Hour 4-6pm with drinks starting at $7 with most cocktails $14. Friday and Saturday Little Palm opens at 11am.
Spending a week or more in Charleston. Maybe here on business, go all out and book the home away from home 1045 SF One Bedroom Suite complete with a plush king size bed, one and a half baths, a soaking tub, and two work areas. Extras include a kitchenette, dining table, and sofa, all with a pool-view terrace. If you’re staying first class this is a ‘sweet suite’!
Anytime is a great time to vacation in the most celebrated city in the United States, and at The Ryder enjoy their Spring to Charleston package, allowing you to take advantage of up to 15% off guest rooms, with complimentary cocktails upon arrival, and a $50 dining credit to Little Palm.
The Holy City is known for its southern hospitality and The Ryder and Little Palm have quickly exceeded that benchmark. That alone allows for an additional half star to their accreditation. Whether you seek simple solitude or prefer social gathering explore all The Ryder has to offer at https://www.theryderhotel.com/