Meet the fearless, fantastic Innkeeper of both the Fulton Lane Inn and Kings Courtyard Inn, Lisa Anderson! Lisa recently chatted all things Charleston bed & breakfasts with Emily Gerson of BedandBreakfast.com. BedandBreakfast.com is an incredible travel resource, and one we look to frequently when searching for a great B & B experience. Thank you Emily for such a fun Q&A session.
Emily Gerson: From what I understand, you are the innkeeper of both Fulton Lane Inn and Kings Courtyard Inn?
Lisa Anderson: Yes I am. The Fulton Lane Inn and Kings Courtyard Inn are next door to each other. There are 86 rooms between the two of them; the two inns are divided by an alley off historic King Street.
EG: How long have you worked at these B&Bs?
LA: I’ve worked here on King Street for four years, but I’ve been with the company for eight.
EG: What made you decide to be an innkeeper?
LA: I don’t think it was a decision. I think I fell into this. I went to school at the University of Massachusetts. I had a roommate who was taking hotel travel administration, and I helped her study. I didn’t know what I wanted to do yet. I worked at a little inn over the summer, and I got to do everything. The owners said I could take care of things, said I’ll figure out if I like it or don’t like it. I said, “Why have I not considered this?” I decided to go into it, and I’ve done it for 27 years.
I was previously an innkeeper in Lenox, MA right across the street from the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It was a 35-room property. I’ve also worked at a larger corporate hotel. I’ve been director of sales, assistant GM, and so on, but I like this size, I like the fact that I get to know the people better than at a high-buy environment. We live vicariously through guests and ask things like, “What are you doing today?” It’s so exciting.
EG: On the same note, what do you enjoy most about being an innkeeper?
LA: Probably the total variety. I never have any idea what my day will bring. You just don’t know what it’s going to be. One day I was sewing a 600-foot piece of tulle to make a tree skirt. I’ll try to hook up a computer, paint…there’s nothing I don’t do. Variety is the spice of life!
EG: Can you tell me about the inns’ special history?
LA: Kings Courtyard was built in 1853, and was pretty much like it is today. The inn is a conglomeration of three different buildings. When they were first built, the buildings’ bottom floors were storefronts. Our building has served many purposes throughout the years – the second floor was once even a roller skating rink. The inn has a hidden-away feel. When you’re driving down King Street, it’s actually easy to miss us. There’s just a doorway that leads through to a little courtyard with a lobby behind it. Some people are surprised and think they’re somewhere they’re not supposed to be! Get more history here.
Fulton Lane Inn is newer than Kings Courtyard Inn. It was rebuilt in 1912 [the building was originally erected in 1889]. It was the residence of a Civil War blockade runner. Learn more history here.
EG: What are some of your favorite breakfast dishes that the inn serves?
LA: Probably the eggs benedict—I’m a huge fan.
Also, I’m from New England, where we don’t do grits – but after working here, I learned to love them. It’s even become a traditional Christmas Eve dinner! We have shrimp and grits and make the grits with chicken stock and cream cheese instead of water.
EG: What are some of your best Charleston travel tips you give to guests?
LA: My number one downtown travel tip is to take a carriage tour- which take off about two blocks from us. Our inns are right in the middle of everything, and sometimes people don’t even realize it. The rides talk about the history of Charleston, go past historic homes, the open-air City Market and more. It gives you a giant overview of downtown Charleston and helps you narrow down which places you’d like to return to.
My other travel tip: check out anything having to do with the Civil War. For anyone who isn’t from the South, it’s interesting to delve into it and realize what a huge part of Charleston’s history is related. The Civil War is the reason why things are the way they are—the grit of Charlestonians. Charleston was more affluent than Boston or Philadelphia before the Civil War but after that, we barely existed. For that reason, Charleston is delighted that it has anything or everything—it’s all valuable. Charlestonians are proud of every remaining brick and stone. I frequently send people out to take a tour at Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Anything that gives guests a Charleston view of the Civil War is a fantastic thing. The tour guides I like are born and bred Charlestonians. It’s a very different look at history.
EG: Why do you think travelers should stay at a B&B in Charleston instead of a big hotel?
LA: Here at the inns, we get to know each of our guests. We become invested in their visit and their time. We want our guests to come back. All of us- myself and my staff- love the city we’re in, and we want people to come back to see us.