Modern Luxury Meets Southern Charm at City Loft Hotel

By Wendy Pollitzer

Featured in The Island News

March 10, 2011

Question: What is it about Beaufort, SC that attracts you?

Answer: Its authenticity. The people and the place are authentic in nature.

That question was asked to a corporate traveler who was the President of  International Business for Coca-Cola  for many years. He’s also a friend and mentor to Matt McAlhaney, owner of City Loft Hotel, City Java & News and CityFIT on Carteret Street in Downtown Beaufort.

For a businessman who has seen the world, that’s a nice compliment to our beloved town and the smiling faces who call it home.  And McAlhaney and his strikingly beautiful wife, Laura have found a niche for global travelers who appreciate gracious hospitality coupled with a distinctive urban feel.  City Loft Hotel, located in the center of one of the most historic cities in the Southeast, is a stylish boutique hotel equipped with modern luxury accommodations.

As economic stewards to Beaufort, it’s time we let the world know what we have to offer.  Our Southern charm, sophisticated tastes and authentic “setting” are ingredients for a preferred destination among global travelers and regional tourists alike.

Stop by The City Loft Hotel Complex and witness these authentic ingredients at work…. you’ll see a number of folks “telecommuting” at City Java & News (working at home but not really), chatting, reading newspapers (The Island News is the preferred choice- of course!) drinking espresso and coffee, dining on ham and cheese biscuits, muffins, and scones…  It’s a scene, the urban vibe McAlhaney strived hard to create. City Java and News is home to such a variety of people every morning. Frequent visitors include writers, musical directors, clergy, judges, teachers, students, and local businessmen, even a 4-Star General.  The energy in City Java from the hours between 7am and 10am is contagious and encouraging.  The ritualism of a morning cup of Joe is partnered with a welcoming sense of community.  Many Beaufortonians start their day at City Java with optimism and camaraderie…. Tourists too.. You’re  likely to see the corporate traveler rushing out the door after a brisk workout at CityFIT ( great gym with ellipticals, freeweights, treadmills and steamshowers to die for) to meet that first client of the day. By the way, keep City Loft in mind the next time you have a vendor or business associate coming to Beaufort to do business, they have special rates and with a 24/7 gym, coffee shop that opens at 6:00 a.m., and two of Beaufort’s finest restaurants just across the street (Breakwater and Wren) they’ll be glad you booked them at this little gem.

McAlhaney said he would be remiss not mention Stephanie Fairbanks, manager of City Loft Hotel, who plays a pivotal role in maintaining relationships with guests and locals,- he says, in short, it’s her job to keep the vibe alive.  He says she truly does anticipate people’s needs rather than reacts to requests or demands.  She and her staff will arrange dining reservations, workout sessions, historic tours or simply coffee delivered to your room.  She understands the City Loft visitor before arrival and assists with the uninterrupted flow of their experience.

Whether he’s sweeping the floor at City Java & News, carrying a guest’s bags or even cutting the hedges at City Loft, McAlhaney maintains it’s all about trends and vibes; a vibe supported by excellent service and real value. Speaking of trends… Fairbanks and McAlhaney are seeing a pretty cool trend developing lately more of City Loft’s visitors traveling by way of the Intracoastal Waterway.  Groups of boaters -day-trippers from Savannah or Charleston plan a trip to Beaufort in their watercraft, dock at the Downtown marina  and stay at City Loft  overnight.  City Loft Hotel will cater to the boating crowd by assisting with luggage and arranging transportation if needed.

McAlhaney and his wife, Laura, created City Loft Hotel with the idea in mind to bring urban design to a historic community.  There are pockets in a number of cities where this model of “transitional” design works well.   Fusing modern and traditional elements in a renovated structure is not only “green,” but innovative and artistic as well.

Creating a space that appeals to visitors and locals is tricky. But, the McAlhaney’s have found a way to form the ideal union of sophisticated travel and hometown warmth.  Its authenticity is quite attractive. For information regarding hotel rates, City Java & News and CityFIT memeberships please contact the staff or Stephanie Fairbanks at 843-379-5638 or visit them on the web at

About Wendy

Wendy Pollitzer is a versatile writer living in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

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"I love Wendy Pollitzer’s writing. Her instincts are remarkable, her nose for truth infallible. I can’t pick up a journal or magazine that she’s written for without going straight to the table of contents in search of her piece. What I think is so interesting about her work is that she really believes in what she’s doing, in getting it right. She’s very, very good. "— Pat Conroy (Prince of Tides, South of Broad) 1945-2016