Aiken, South Carolina became a vacation spot for Europeans and Americans in the late 1800s. The Willcox Hotel was established in 1900 by Englishman Frederick Willcox and quickly became a “winter colony” for the wealthy. A few years prior, the Highland Park, a luxury hotel nearby, burned down and their patrons were looking for a new place to stay. The hotel fell on hard times in World War II when people weren’t traveling for leisure and it closed in the 1950s. But locals saved and reopened it in 1985.
Voted one of the best hotels in the world, The Willcox Hotel has been visited by countless celebrities, politicians, and millionaires like Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Elizabeth Arden. Members of the horse racing industry also stay here, especially during the Aiken Steeplechase, held every spring. In the last few years, it’s been named as one of the best hotels in the world by both Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler.
Even the most basic of rooms are large by hotel standards, including a four-poster bed, a seating area, and a large bathtub. All rooms include bathrobes, complimentary WiFi, and a yoga mat for guest use. Larger rooms have fireplaces and suites are named for the famous guests who have stayed there, namely the Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, and Roosevelt suites.
All rooms include complimentary breakfast. The hotel also has an in-house bar and restaurant offering Sunday brunch for non-guests. Additional amenities include an outdoor saltwater pool, fitness center, and award-winning spa. And as a pet-friendly hotel, both your dogs and horses will be cared for here with specialty concierge service.
If You Go
The Willcox Hotel is located at 100 Colleton Avenue SW, Aiken, South Carolina 29801. Parking is free on the street in front of the hotel. Rooms start at $189 per night and go up for suites. You can book your stay by calling (877) 648-2200 or visiting their website.
My stay at The Willcox Hotel was arranged by South Carolina’s Thoroughbred Country and Laurie Rowe Communications.