Discovering the Qualities of a Boutique Hotel at Inn on the Square in Greenwood, SC

Find out why I think Inn on the Square is one of the best boutique hotels in South Carolina.

Written by

Jason Barnette

on

August 26, 2020

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COVID-19 has changed the world. The tourism industry has been one of the hardest hit areas of the global pandemic. Local restaurants, museums, state and national parks have all changed hours of operation, procedures, and some have gone out of business altogether.

Please verify current operations of any places you want to visit mentioned in these articles, and contact me if a business has permanently closed so I can update the article. Thank you and stay safe out there!

My eyes traveled upward through the three-story atrium flooded with natural light, with live plants dangling from interior balconies, and the echoes of a trickling water feature nearby. How could this be the lobby of a hotel? For the next few nights, I would embark on an adventure to discover the qualities of a boutique hotel at Inn on the Square in Greenwood, South Carolina.

I’ve visited Greenwood on three occasions now. It’s an off the beaten path destination well worth the drive through the South Carolina countryside to get there. On two of my visits to the city, I was hosted at the only boutique hotel in the small city.

But just because it’s the only boutique hotel does not diminish from the qualities. I’ve stayed at a lot of boutique hotels over the years. But this particular one? The Inn on the Square boutique hotel is one of the most charming and comfortable in South Carolina.

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Inn on the Square

In the early 1900s, two buildings were constructed on Main Street with a narrow alley between in Uptown Greenwood. They invariably housed a funeral home, grocery store, and furniture store through the decades. In 1985, after years of neglect, local developers Bob Coleman and Ben Lawrence connected the buildings, enclosed the alley, and opened a forty-eight room hotel.

That first attempt at a downtown hotel didn’t last long, though. After more years of neglect, the building was purchased by developers Wesley Oldham and Jim McGuinness. McGuinness and his wife, C.J., moved to Greenwood from New Mexico to manage the hotel. After a year of renovations, Inn on the Square opened for its first guest in October 2015.

The Inn on the Square is walking distance to all the shops and restaurants in Uptown Greenwood. A day trip drive away are the charming towns of Abbeville and Edgefield. Ninety Six National Historic Park and Lake Greenwood State Park are options for outdoor recreation. The hotel is in a perfect location at the heart of the Old 96 Tourism District.

104 East Court Avenue, Greenwood, SC | 864-330-1010 | https://innonthesquare.net

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At top, the Uptown Executive Suite is the perfect room for the tourist or business traveler. Bottom, the Studios @118 is a private retreat with a gorgeous custom stone shower.

Guest Rooms and Suites

Inn on the Square features four types of guest rooms for various travelers. Typical of boutique hotel design, all the rooms included home-style furnishings, comfortable beds, and real wood furniture. Each room had unique and quirky bedside lamps, various artwork on the walls, and plush carpeting inviting you to take your shoes off.

During my first visit, I spent a few nights in one of the Studios @118 guest rooms. Located in an adjacent building behind the hotel, these rooms offer private entrances directly from the parking lot. The large rooms include a king bed, a sleeper sofa with a coffee table, and a small desk. The ensuite bathroom was the best at the hotel with a walk-in stone shower, two vanities, and a jacuzzi tub.

During my second visit, I spent two nights in one of the Uptown Executive Suites. The corner room had three windows with views of the downtown area and could be connected with the room next door to create a suite for families. The large desk with built-in outlets and the comfortable desk chair was perfect for getting some work done.

The Uptown Rooms are located around the perimeter of the building with a single window. These rooms include either a single king bed or two queens. They are smaller rooms and don’t feature a fridge and microwave like the Uptown Executive Suites, but the ensuite bathroom is just as lovely.

The Atrium Rooms are the only interior rooms at the hotel. The three-story atrium has skylights that flood the building with natural light, and the single window in the Atrium Rooms offers a bit of that daylight. It’s still darker than the other rooms, but it’s also cheaper and comes with the same fine furnishings.

Follow the link to book a room at the Inn on the Square.

My Favorite Feature of the Guest Rooms

Everyone has that one particular amenity of a hotel that is a deal-breaker. For me, it’s the climate control. I despise wall-mounted air conditioning units that are quite often noisy and difficult to control.

At Inn on the Square, the integrated climate control uses a digital interface similar to what you probably have at home. But my favorite part of the control was the temperature range. Most hotels limit how cold the air conditioning can be set to save money on the electric bill and overuse of the system.

Inn on the Square allows the temperatures to be set as long as 62 degrees, my favorite temperature for sleeping at night. Along with the comfortable bed and pillows, I slept better at this boutique hotel than just about any place I’ve ever traveled.

The expansive lobby was filled with comfortable seating for friends and family to enjoy some time in a public space.

Incredible Staff

With a fresh coffee in hand, I left my room to begin a day exploring Greenwood. As the door clanged shut behind me, I could hear bubbling laughter like someone had just told a great joke. I turned to the corner to see a gaggle of cleaning ladies smiling. You might think this was inappropriate, but to me, it was important. When was the last time you saw a happy cleaning lady at a hotel?

Everywhere I went at the Inn on the Square, I saw a happy staff. My waiter at the complimentary breakfast. The lady behind the front desk. The managers were walking the property. When people love where they work, they work better.

During the day, the concierge desk was staffed in the lobby. Brochures and maps were readily available, along with tips for the best place to find coffee or get lunch. A tip led me to the farmers market on nearby Maxwell Street. Having a knowledgeable staff means you won’t miss much during a visit to the city.

Follow the link to book a room at the Inn on the Square.

Claire Griffith, the Lady GM

Claire has had a long history with the building occupied by Inn on the Square. In 2009, she worked a catering job with Lander University, who used the building as a dormitory. During her first experience in the building, she couldn’t help but see the potential for something greater.

In 2014, Claire was working at the front office for a local plumbing supply store. One morning, her mother called and excitedly announced, “Did you see the front page of the paper? Somebody bought the inn!”

That afternoon on her lunch break, Claire walked over the dilapidated building and handed her freshly polished resume to Jim McGuinness. Seven months pregnant with her daughter at the time, Claire made a case for why she was perfect for a job at the new boutique hotel.

Claire reenacted a conversation between co-owners Jim and Wesley Oldham. Jim said, “So, this female came in here today for a job. She’s pregnant. But I think she might can do it.” With a smile on her face, Claire nodded after retelling the conversation to me and added, “You’re right, I can do it!”

Two weeks later, Claire was offered a job. Today, she’s the top person in the building as a general manager. Smart, likeable, and dedicated, I could not imagine Inn on the Square without this general manager. Or, as she is also known, the Lady GM.

Complimentary Breakfast

I have come across various types of free breakfast at hotels in my travels. The most basic includes nothing more than stale bagels and waffles you make for yourself. The best free breakfast I’ve had at a major hotel chain yet has been Hampton Inn by Hilton; their hot breakfast made fresh every morning is served buffet-style and includes an assortment of breakfast foods.

But the best complimentary breakfast I’ve ever had at a hotel came from the Carriage House Restaurant at Inn on the Square. A leather-bound menu includes about a dozen items like two farm fresh eggs, hand-cut brioche French toast, applewood smoked bacon, and stone-ground grits await diners; you can pick four made to order.

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Locals love the Fox and Hound Lounge, so that should tell you something! And I don’t know why an Arnold Palmer was the first thing that came to my mind, but fortunately the kitchen had just made a fresh pitcher of sweet tea.

Fox and Hound Lounge

One quality of a boutique hotel is a bevy of in-house services. An on-site restaurant is always great, and having a fitness room to get in that morning mile is very much welcomed. But my favorite addition to any boutique hotel is a well-stocked bar.

The Fox and Hound Lounge is a favorite local watering hole. Every evening, the locals stop for a drink or two before continuing their evening throughout the town. For hotel guests, it’s a great place to unwind after a day of exploring the region.

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For the business traveler like myself (am I really considered a business traveler?), the Fox and Hound Lounge is the kind of place to get a drink, get some work done, and not get drowned out by the typical noise of a bar with a jukebox in the corner. The leather-wrapped chairs and black linen tablecloths added a touch of elegance to the lounge, but nothing more so than the bartender who made a perfect Arnold Palmer for me. All three times.

Sunday Brunch

On Sundays, the Inn on the Square goes all out with a Sunday brunch to rival any brunch, anywhere. The ballroom, generally reserved for weddings and special events, is laid out with about a dozen stations for a buffet-style brunch.

The omelette station greeted me through the double door entrance. Servers stand ready to assist with made-to-order portions of the meal or to help with getting a serving of meat, but otherwise, it is very much do-it-yourself. After the lady placed the freshly cooked omelette on my plate, I slid over to the toppings bar for an assortment of bacon bits, salsa, sour cream, and shredded cheese.

The most challenging part of any buffet is deciding what you want. All the options looked terrific, and I think I could have turned it into a food eating challenge to try it all. A meat carving station, tender pulled pork, pancakes, and dessert bar were some of the options I skipped that day. If anything has given me a great reason to return to Greenwood for a weekend getaway, it was this brunch.

Follow the link to book a room at the Inn on the Square.

Uptown Greenwood

Most boutique hotels are within walking distance of downtown, and Inn on the Square is no exception. Uptown Greenwood shopping is just a block away from the Court Avenue entrance to the hotel. Sugar Boutique, Sweet Teas Children’s Boutique, and Main & Maxwell are all less than ten minutes walking distance.

You might want to hop in the car to visit the farmers market on Maxwell Avenue or get dinner at The Mill House. I certainly recommend a car to visit The Railroad Historical Center and the Benjamin Mays Historic Site.

But whatever you do in Uptown Greenwood, it is easy to reach while using the Inn on the Square as your base. 

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