The Deep South, the region that shaped rock and roll. One of the classic road trips is a drive up the iconic Highway 61 ‘the Blues Highway‘ from New Orleans, Louisiana to Memphis, Tennessee. To complete the Mojo music triangle take the I40 to Nashville, the capital of country music. So if you love blues, soul or country then this is definitely the road trip for you.
But where to stay? These are the hotels we stayed in during our Spring trip. Ranging from the historic antebellum and southern classic to the cool boutique and sleek contemporary. All very different but all highly recommended.
So let’s start in New Orleans, even after visiting we still don’t know how to pronounce the place. Everyone seemed to have a different version from ‘Nawlins’ to ‘New Or-Linz’ but it’s definitely not the way we Brits pronounce it!
Hotel Le Marais, New Orleans, Louisiana
Just off tumultuous Bourbon Street in the heart of the French Quarter is an oasis of calm, the Hotel Le Marais. We loved the mix of classic New Orleans style combined with contemporary design. The pretty courtyard was a perfect place to enjoy an evening cocktail while we enjoyed the sound of jazz which gently reverberated over the city.
We stayed in New Orleans for 5 nights before picking up the car and following the Mississippi River up Highway 61 to Natchez. Don’t forget to take your time and visit some of the plantations on the way, a fascinating yet sombre experience.
Read more about the city and our 5 Reasons Why You Must Visit New Orleans.
Dunleith Historic Inn, Natchez, Mississippi
170 miles from New Orleans and sitting on the banks of the Mississippi is the historic town of Natchez, the oldest settlement on the Mississippi River. Natchez has a large number of preserved antebellum houses and most of these are open to the public.
In Natchez, we stayed at the Dunleith Historic Inn which dates from 1856 and with some original buildings dating back to the 1790’s. We loved its southern charm and sitting on the veranda overlooking the landscaped gardens. We also loved the great accents and southern hospitality of the staff.
Read more about Touring The Plantation Houses.
Our large room at the Dunleith was in a traditional southern style with access to the large veranda, we found out that one of the former guests in this room was Mick Jagger. We couldn’t look at that bed again without seeing that face and lips!
We stayed in Natchez for 2 nights as we explored the area, what was great about the hotel were the southern breakfasts, with biscuits, waffles, cheese grits, deep fried bacon and assorted eggs. Don’t even think about dieting when you visit.
The Peabody Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee
Next stop, we were “Walking in Memphis” and staying at The Peabody Hotel Memphis, a grand old Tennessee hotel built in 1925. From the hotel, it’s only a short walk to the bars and Blues clubs of Beale Street.
For any music fan, must-visits include Sun Studio, the Stax Museum, the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum and of course Graceland, the former home of the king of rock’ n roll, Elvis Presley. A sobering but important museum to visit is the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King was shot in 1968.
The Peabody Hotel is the home of the famous Peabody ducks. Every morning a group of ducks leave their penthouse on the roof and waddle down a red carpet to spend the day in the lobby fountain. Then at 5 pm the ducks leave the fountain, waddle back to the elevator and up to their penthouse for the night. The whole bizarre ceremony is presided over by the ‘Duckmaster‘.
Read more about Things To Do In Memphis.
Loews Vanderbilt Hotel, Nashville, Tennessee
Finally, it was off to the home of country music, Nashville. We stayed at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel in midtown Nashville. Although slightly up from the Honky Tonks of Lower Broadway, it was still a convenient base and also close to Centennial Park, inexplicably complete with an exact replica of the Greek Parthenon.
We like staying at Loews Hotels when travelling in the USA as we find them stylish and contemporary with a local twist and you know you’ll get a great room and excellent service. We can’t really think of a comparable chain in the UK.
No stay in Nashville is complete without experiencing the Grand Ole Opry. The Grand Ole Opry show has been broadcast live on the radio for over 90 years. We really enjoyed our night at the Opry and Mellissa let British reserve down and actually let out a couple of American ‘Whoops!’
As most of the international flights to the South fly into Atlanta, we also stayed at the Loews Atlanta at the start and end of the trip. Instead of getting straight on a connecting flight to New Orleans we definitely recommend spending a couple of days to get over the jet lag and to see a bit of Atlanta.
We are going back later this year and can’t wait to experience America’s Deep South again.
Where To Stay On Your Tour Of The American Deep South – Pin For Later
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Peabody Hotel Building Image courtesy of Trevorbirchett under Creative Commons License 3.0