Charleston is just one year shy of a decade-long sweep.
For the ninth year in a row, the city has been named a No. 1 destination by readers of Condé Nast Traveler. This year, Charleston also received the highest score of any destination, earning it the distinction of the top city in the world.
The Holy City has also secured multiple No. 1 rankings at Travel + Leisure, Southern Living and Afar magazines. The Conde Nast reader survey is the longest-running in the travel industry, and it’s also the publication where Charleston has its lengthiest streak.
The city’s success with Travel + Leisure readers isn’t far behind at seven years with Charleston in the top spot!
Conde Nast Editor-in-Chief Melinda Stevens said Charleston has “a bit of a glow around it” in the travel world, and particularly in the U.K., with a reputation for holding true to itself.
“No one seems to have just one layer in Charleston,” said Stevens, who has spent time exploring the city. “People have their fingers in many different pies, as we say, and it gives a richness to it. There’s a sophisticated ease.”
In August 2018, Stevens became the magazine’s global editor when the publication combined its editorial teams for the U.S. and U.K. editions.
British travelers have long been the Holy City’s top demographic among visitors from overseas, but the relationship was heightened in the last year with the launch of nonstop British Airways service from Charleston to London’s Heathrow Airport.
The inaugural flight took off in April, and the airline’s initial commitment ends Oct. 24. But British Airways announced last week that the service would return again in the spring.
This year, responses from readers of both the U.S. and the U.K. editions were merged into one compilation of preferred destinations, lodgings and other travel features, giving Charleston the new distinction of earning the top spot among global destinations not in the United Kingdom.
Though that honor, and the distinction of being named the best small city in the U.S., was released Monday morning, Charleston tourism leaders were surprised to also receive an award for being the top city in the world at an official ceremony that evening.
Charleston had the highest cumulative score of any city featured, earning 94.73 on a 100-point scale. Merida, the capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán, had the next highest score at 94.54.
Charleston has been appearing in Condé Nast Traveler’s top 20 U.S. destinations since the early 1990s and has been climbing since then.
Before Charleston’s reign, San Francisco held the crown for nearly two decades.
This year’s awards also included a ranking of the top 10 hotels in Charleston. The French Quarter Inn led the list, followed by the HarbourView Inn, then Belmond Charleston Place.
Charleston International made the magazine’s list of the best airports in the U.S., coming in at No. 7. (Credit: Post & Courier)
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