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“Sadly disappointed!”

Phoebe Pember House
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Phoebe Pember House
Ranked #32 of 39 Charleston B&B and Inns
Reviewed 3 November 2006

Do not bother to view the Phoebe Pembe House website since it is misleading, to say the least. It shows a beautiful four poster bed in a spacious bedroom - NO. It indicates piazzas with rocking chairs on which to relax and view the walled gardens - NO. It has photographs of a gorgeous sitting area in the bedrooms and a magnificent bathroom- No. It promises silver service breakfast - NO. And, for all these amenities and more, it asks a healthy price tag for one would gladly pay if it were true. The best part of the House is its location but that in and of itself doesn't make up for its pitfalls.
We have travelled throughout the world and have stayed at hotels, boutique hotels, inns and bed and breakfasts and have learned to 'read in between the lines' of descriptions. We could not have imagined anything but a top notch establishment. Next time, we will also consult Trip Advisor!
We were told that we had to arrive before 5:30 in the afternoon otherwise noone would be there to greet us, so we made sure to get there at least an hour ahead of time. As soon as we showed up, we were told by the owner that she and two others were in the middle of a meeting. The owner gave us a quick and cool welcome and returned to her meeting. She handed us over to the manager, who was new but quite sweet. She then showed us upstairs to our room. We felt a bit like intruders or distant cousins arriving unwanted at the front door.
Things seemed to turn around when the manager offered to leave breakfast for us since we had to leave early for golf the next morning. She showed us the inside way through the sitting area to the kitchen and advised us to double lock the front door since we were the only ones staying there, that night. The next morning, we went downstairs only to find someone sleeping on a pull-out in the sitting room that connected to the kitchen and when we went outside to see if we could get in another way, we discovered that the front door was unlocked. It turns out that the owner's son uses the sitting room when he gets in too late. Well, there went breakfast.
When we asked for ideas for restaurants and tours, the new manager again was quite lovely and friendly but had little information to share, so we were relegated to consulting the computer and making our own way. Not so bad but for this type of service, we could have stayed in a chain motel.
It felt as if the bandb had become only an investment or tax write off for the owners who lived in the main house, next door -- the the actual house that appears on the website and has the one room pictured with the magnificent bathroom and sitting area. With love, effort and some major changes in amenities, this establishment could possibly be made into a charming place. Add a chest of drawers in which one could place some clothes instead of living out of a suitcase. Add a mirror in front of which one could dress. Add a shelf or two in the bathroom on which one could put toiletries. Let the guests use at least one of the piazzas on which to rest. Clear the dirty coffee cups and coffee machine on the coffee stand outside the door during the day and leave some creamer for the coffee. Place some books and pamphlets about the area in the bedroom or sitting area...
Finally, ask your guests if they need anything and if they had a good time.

  • Stayed: November 2006, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
5  Thank partnersintravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
innkeeperpph, owner at Phoebe Pember House, responded to this reviewResponded 25 September 2007

In an effort to ensure that guests have
excellent experiences staying with us, we employ an innkeeper, an assistant administrator, a housekeeper, and part-time staff. In the case of this guest's dissatisfaction, we admit and regret that she was not greeted with the degree of personal attentiveness we would have wished, largely for the reasons she stated, that the owner was in the midst of a meeting and the innkeeper was in training. It should be noted that the guest arrived early, not during the usual appointed hours for greeting guests. However as a consequence, the guest's attitude soured out of proportion almost immediately, and she became overly critical concerning nearly everything.
Concerning the criticism of our website, our website absolutely does offer an accurate pictorial representation of our accommodations. The photos do show the actual rooms and spaces that guests reserve and enjoy, and we do in fact encourage our guests to relax on the very piazzas (porches) and gardens shown on the website. In Charleston, the owners are required by ordinance to reside on the premises, and their quarters are the only restricted area on the property.
As for the owner's son sleeping the sitting room, in reality he is an independent adult who came home for a visit, pure and simple. He was resting in the sitting area waiting for the household to become active. It has not happened before or since, and is no more noteworthy than if another guests were caught napping, unless of course one is laboring to come up with complaints.
However, all of this is really beside the point. The most important point to remember is that less than one percent of the guests who stay at Phoebe Pember House ever have a complaint. Because our accommodations are often reserved by retreat participants attending Sophia Institute functions, our atmosphere is different than the usual venue catering to partiers and commercial tourists. Our atmosphere is more contemplative, holistic and conscious.
We are hosts to some of the nation's most celebrated teachers and leaders who come to Charleston specifically to stay at Phoebe Pember House and facilitate programs at The Sophia Institute. It's not unusual to be rubbing elbows with best-selling authors, Poet Laureates, renowned psychologists, anthropologists, and so on. It makes our guests' stay more rewarding if they can appreciate the type of environment, where, for example, you just might arrive when the owner is meeting with a guest presenter. My advice is to check out the Sophia Institute website and see for yourself whether staying at this location is a good match.

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36 - 42 of 42 reviews

Reviewed 24 October 2006

When arrived at Phobe Pember House the manager was not on site and had left for vacation. We were charged double the price quoted by Anne. That started our stay on the wrong foot. After a few nights and my persistence the owner finally agreed to decrease the price by splitting the difference quoted (so I still ended up paying more). Lesson learned - get the confirmation in writing!
We stayed in the coach house. Our room was fine however the shutters were broken, the shower door kept falling off and our sheets were so wrinkled and had holes in them that I wondered if they were clean. There was bare minimum of bathroom supplies.
The common area in the coach house has a kitchen but isn't usuable. The fridge never got cold, the microwave was so greasy and stove top dirty that I would not have used it even if there were supplies. There were dishes but not a complete set of cutlery for even 2 people. The cutlery that was there was old and rusted.
The breakfast was disappointing. Stale muffins and not even enough croissant to go around. We were given yogurt and granola once in our stay.
I have to agree with the other reviews - the bare minimum was done to run this place. It is definetly not worth the money!!

  • Stayed: October 2006, travelled with family
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6  Thank Awearytraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 June 2006

First let me say that I came across all the reviews of the Phoebe Pember House on the day we were leaving for our trip to Charleston and could not cancel our reservation or I would have based upon what I read. Instead, I called and left a message for Anne Shue, the property’s manager voicing my concerns. This trip was in celebration of my 50th birthday and I wanted things to be very special. I received a message back from Anne assuring me that they would take very good care of us.

Let me also say that Anne Shue is a delightful, charming young woman and an asset to the Pember House. She is, however, an employee and can therefore do only so much.

It is not dirty as some complained. One does not have to climb three flights of stairs to the rooms; it only has two floors so only one floor of stairs is ever required. There was no real street noise and we felt quite safe in the area, which is just outside the historic district. It does make for some very long walks.

The highlight was a Friday afternoon wine and cheese gathering of the guests. Anne also gave us a tour of the front house where Carolyn Rivers, the owner of the Phoebe Pember House, resides. She was out of town during most of our visit.

The web site is a bit misleading. The “blue room” pictured is no longer available to stay in, we did not get the impression that the porch, also shown on the site, is open for guests to use. There is no common room, only the patio that has a lovely wisteria covered pergola, weather permitting. There is also a kitchen/office. So basically, you have your room….which will be small. It is a 200 year old house after all. The bed was very uncomfortable. The bathtub needs some kind of traction as it is very slippery. I don’t know about South Carolina laws, but I believe in most places, hotels must have traction of some kind in their tubs/showers to prevent falls.

Do not come to the Pember House if you want a breakfast. What they offer- some muffins, yoghurt, orange juice from concentrate, some fruit - is mediocre and not worth bothering. Three blocks north on East Bay and you find the Saffron Bakery which offers everything one could want for breakfast and is very reasonably priced.

I cannot recommend staying here. Technically, it qualifies as a bed and breakfast as Ms. Rivers leaves on the property, though as I mentioned, we never saw her, and they have some meager offerings for breakfast. Anne is available by cell phone at any time, so apparently that qualifies too but it isn’t really what we expect when we go to a bed and breakfast.

Also, the owner seems to spare every expense. We had to ask for toilet paper twice, they only ration out one roll at a time. Some of the wash cloths were threadbare. There is not much in the communal refrigerator for guests. As I now think back…I am terribly afraid that we mistook another guest’s bottled water as something that the Pember House provided their guests. Every bed and breakfast we’ve ever been to had bottled water and soft drinks available for the guests and especially in the tremendous heat this would be a good idea, but I am afraid to think that perhaps that wasn’t the case here. If so…we are so embarrassed and sorry if we mistakenly took another guest’s water.

On our last day’s stay, we were the only guests. I went down to start the coffee which we were told would be ready at a push of a button. The day before, there was no water in the coffee machine but on this day not only was there no water but yesterday’s old coffee grounds were still in the machine. It made us feel as though we didn’t matter at all.

Charleston is a fabulous town and we intend to come back often. However, with so many lovely inns and hotels available, we would not come back to the Phoebe Pember House. Why would we? As I said, I told Anne about our concerns before we even arrived so I imagine she did the best she was able to within the confines of her employer. Anne is a delight but she is not enough to bother returning to the Phoebe Pember House.

I have learned my lesson though. NEVER book lodging without first checking it out with Tripadvisor!

  • Stayed: June 2006
    • Value
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5  Thank always anjuli
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 May 2006

We arrived on Friday night at 5:30 and the innkeepers had gone. I found it odd that no one was there to great us but that was ok. Our room was cramped and OLD! The bathroom was tiny and grimy. This inn is very, very, very old. Which is charming.... slightly. If you are going there for a romantic weekend (as we were) do NOT stay at the Phoebe Pember. The walls are paper thin and we were awoke at 7 AM each morning by noise from the office, kitchen and guests outside our room. We felt like we had to whisper when we talked in our room if we wanted privacy. These are all things that are not the fault of the Inn rather just a result of staying in a very old property. What was the fault of the inn, however, is that our room was never cleaned the weekend we were there. You could tell someone had come in as they had taken a breakfast plate and left a dirty towel (from another room). However, the bed was never made and we never received fresh towels. To add insult to injury - we had no hot water for two days. Cold showers... not fun for $200 a night. The plus is the location and that the staff was nice and helpful when asked. But if you are used to staying in bed and breakfasts or inn's (and we are) this lacks many of the creature comforts you may be used to.

Stayed: May 2006
6  Thank ksamson1212
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
Pennsylvania
19
Reviewed 17 April 2005

My wife and I stayed at Phoebe Pember on our trip to Charleston a few months ago. Let me first say that we have stayed in many B&B’s across the country. Unfortunately, this stay ranked pretty low on our list. To be fair, there were good points. But in end, the bad far outweighed the good for us.

Positives:
1) Staff – very friendly, nice and helpful!
2) Location – Great! --- centrally located to the sights and safe to walk to at night.
3) Historic – the house is a piece of history and has much charm.
4) Comfort – room was comfortable… within the context that it is an old house.

Negatives:
1) Breakfast - worst I’ve had at a B&B. Stale muffins and orange juice. See below for more detail. **
2) The house is next to a “Main” road. Cars zooming by every few seconds and through the night. Terrible.
3) Bathroom was very cramped and outdated.
4) The house is old. You really need to want to stay in a place like this to enjoy it.
5) Price: @ 200+ a night, we expected a lot more…

** The event that put me over the edge here was breakfast. The breakfast prepared was very poor. There was basically a selection of cold pastry, cheap orange juice and coffee. The location to eat is outside next to a buzzing air conditioning unit. So, okay… Fine, we thought… we’d eat on the run. Unfortunately, I picked out a blueberry muffin only to find about six big mold spots growing on it. I was so embarrassed and disgusted that I couldn’t bring myself to say anything about it. I’m sorry Phoebe Pember but this really happened. I’m not that picky about things. But, this was a first --- even for me.

I felt I needed to write this review to pass on information I wish I had before arriving. After the experience was over, we really felt we made a poor choice in staying here. It wasn’t for us. I’m sorry Phoebe Pember. I hope you can improve on some points so that others in the future may have a better experience.

  • Stayed: October 2004
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9  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 July 2004

We arrived in Charleston from Georgetown. Where we stayed in a wonderful B&B. We were a little disappointed that it wasnt the same ambiance. But I never slept better during our whole trip. It was comfortable in its own way. We had plenty of closet space,and the bathroom was nice,and clean. But, with so much to see in Charleston we didnt spend much time in the room. It was located in a nice location, we could shop across the street if needed. And we walked everywhere night or day. Shannon was very helpful and nice. And willingly took us on a tour. The house is OLD so dont expect perfection, but the charm makes up for it. The herons roosting in trees were great to watch. As I said if you expect perfection,your not going to get it, but its worth the charm.

2  Thank Wildchild1804
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 February 2004

I usually do not write reviews but I was browsing and came across such a scathing review of what in my opinion was one of the best places to stay in Charleston. Phoebe Pember House is a quaint place hidden behind high walls in downtown Charleston. It is so close to everything yet once you step onto its property you feel that you are so far away. We stayed in what Shannon the manager called her favorite room which was a queen 4 poster room with decorative fireplace and a cathedral ceiling.
STUNNING! We enjoyed yoga in their onsite studio, had a glass of wine everynight with Shannon as she closed up shop for the day and were able to see all the rooms on a tour. Each one was beautiful in their own way, a good mix of old world victorian and new world ambience! The breakfasts varied.. Shannon cooks everything on site: pastries, croissants, to black&white waffles and Poached Peaches with white cheese mousse! It did not matter what was for breakfast as long as she cooked it we did not care! We have already rebooked for next year, and hopefully Shannon will still be there (even though her dreams are to open her own place in Central America).. Don't go Shannon, Charleston needs you! Overall, a great place, great staff, great food!

3  Thank Canynn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Phoebe Pember House

Address: 26 Society St, Charleston, SC 29401-2629
Region: United States > South Carolina > Coastal South Carolina > Charleston
Hotel Style:
Ranked #32 of 39 B&Bs / Inns in Charleston
Price Range: £76 - £152 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 5

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