Style Destination

Style destination: Aiken, South Carolina

Style destination: Aiken, South Carolina

The grand 116-year-old hotel at dusk Author: The Wilcox

Style Destination

Style destination: Aiken, South Carolina

Style at Home's editor-in-chief travels to the storied town of Aiken, S.C.

 

Style at Home editor-in-chief Erin McLaughlin travels to this storied Southern city just in time for its prestigious annual horse show.

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Style destination: Aiken, South Carolina

Day one: First morning to remember

Check into The Willcox, a grand white-pillared 116-year-old hotel. Each of the lavishly appointed rooms boasts traditional colonial furnishings, comfy linens and luxe soaker tubs. A beautiful magnolia tree grows out front, giving shade to the rocking chairs that line the porch. Get settled in and then start your day here, relaxing and sipping coffee before enjoying a decadent brunch at the on-site restaurant. I had the Belgian waffle with mascarpone maple syrup – so, so good.

Image by: Style at Home By: Erin McLaughlin Source: Stacey van Berkel

Style destination: Aiken, South Carolina

A must-see event

Plan your trip to coincide with the Aiken Horse Show. This April marks the 100th anniversary of the event, which takes place in the historic Hitchcock Woods. Aiken is an equestrian wonderland and has been since the 1880s, when wealthy Yankees discovered the place to have the ideal climate for riding – warm but not too hot – and thus dubbed it the Winter Colony. (You’ll find that horses are, quite literally, everywhere in Aiken!)

Image by: Style at Home By: Erin McLaughlin Source: Anne Hoover

Style destination: Aiken, South Carolina

Keeping with the theme

Take in the prestigious equestrian show and be sure to explore the 2,100-acre woodland studded with paths for horse and carriage rides or walking. If you’re staying at The Willcox, ask the concierge to help arrange riding lessons or a horse-drawn carriage picnic in the woods.

Image by: Style at Home By: Erin McLaughlin Source: Stacey van Berkel

Style destination: Aiken, South Carolina

Maybe just one more

After the show, head to Mellow Mushroom for your fill of delicious Southern-style pizza (try the House Special) and pints of craft beer. Then have a nightcap at The Willcox’s lobby bar. Sip on The Great Gatsby-inspired cocktails, including my favourite, The Parisian: vodka shaken with St. Germain elderflower liqueur, cranberry juice and fresh lime.

Image by: Style at Home By: Erin McLaughlin Source: iStockPhoto

Style destination: Aiken, South Carolina

Day two: At your own pace

Sleep in and then enjoy breakfast at New Moon Cafe.

Image by: Style at Home By: Erin McLaughlin Source: Stacey van Berkel

Style destination: Aiken, South Carolina

Make sure to fill up

Order the healthy and hearty quinoa bowl and a cup of house-roasted MoonBeans coffee before embarking on a day of exploring and shopping.

Image by: Style at Home By: Erin McLaughlin Source: Stacey Van Berkel

Style destination: Aiken, South Carolina

It's time to shop!

The cafe is located in downtown Aiken, which boasts treelined parkways, stately Winter Colony mansions, quaint shops and diverse restaurants. Walk the main drag, Laurens Street, where you’ll find souvenir, crafts and antiques stores as well as some of the best equestrian boutiques I’ve ever seen, including Equine Divine – it has an amazing selection of jewellery and housewares.

Image by: Style at Home By: Erin McLaughlin Source: Stacey van Berkel

Style destination: Aiken, South Carolina

You'll only find them here

And don’t miss the exclusive Aiken china at Plum Pudding, a shop that sells high-end cooking equipment and serving pieces. In the afternoon, visit Hopeland Gardens, a 14-acre estate shaded under 100-year-old oak trees.

Image by: Style at Home By: Erin McLaughlin Source: Stacey van Berkel

Style destination: Aiken, South Carolina

Dinner (and dessert) are served

The land, which belonged to Hope Iselin, “the great lady of racing” who spent winters in Aiken, was gifted to the city after her death in 1970. Head back to The Willcox and have a bite at its restaurant. The dinner menu is upscale, fresh and innovative, mixing varied worldly flavours. Finish off your meal with the pear, almond and ginger cake.

Image by: Style at Home By: Erin McLaughlin Source: Stacey van Berkel

Style destination: Aiken, South Carolina

What to pack

Sport chic equestrian ware and you’ll fit right in with Aiken’s horsey culture. Woven belt - The Derby On Deck Belt, Hunt Club, $32 US. Chic bracelet - Paloma Picasso leather and 18-karat rose gold knot wrap bracelet, Tiffany & Co., $2,650. Perfect jeans - Belvedere jeans in Sorento Dark,Fidelity Denim, $200. Weekend tote - HBC Collection x Herschel Supply novel duffle bag, Hudson's Bay, $135. Comfy boots - The Foxhunt boots in Black & Cognac, Poppy Barley, from $498 US. Refreshing spray - The Mist face mist, La Mer, $80. Quilted jacket - Ariana superlight jacket in Orange, Horseware Ireland, $150 US.

Image by: Style at Home By: Erin McLaughlin Source: Style at Home
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Style Destination

Style destination: Aiken, South Carolina