The Willcox was built in the late 19th century for well-to do Yankees seeking warmth, light and high society. Aiken was popular with the swells and dandies of the Gilded Age and they came in such numbers every winter that the town was dubbed the "Winter Colony." Great dances were held and ballrooms glittered with candlelight. Old rivals, fiercely competitive but impeccably polite, settled their differences on the polo field. Grand picnics in Hitchcock Woods were laid out with silver, crystal and linen. Politicians, royalty and captains of industry often visited The Willcox.
The far-reaching reputation of the Southern inn was built on its atmosphere, impeccable service and excellent cuisine. Famous guests included Winston Churchill, Harold Vanderbilt, W.R. Grace, Elizabeth Arden and Count Bernadotte of Sweden. Legend has it that Franklin Delano Roosevelt rode his private train car to the back door and slipped in quietly. It also is well documented that the Prince of Wales was regretfully turned away during Master's week because there was no room.
As grand and graceful as ever, The Willcox continues to draw international guests who enjoy first-class service, gracious accommodations, excellent cuisine and the magic of historic Aiken, South Carolina — unforgettable experiences that won The Willcox a 2012 Best Hotel in the World Award from Travel and Leisure, a 2012 Best in the South award from Condé Nast Traveler and a Best 50 in the U.S. Small Hotel Award in 2011 the same magazine.
The hotel’s owners also received a Stewardship Award for outstanding upkeep of a key historic property by the city’s volunteer Historic Aiken Foundation, and local fans repeatedly have voted it the best hotel in town.
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The Willcox at a Glance