Well, we've been back a week and our #DixieTrip feels about a million years ago. With work already piling up it's fun to look back over what a wonderful time we had. A lot of the wonderfulness was as a result of the hotels that played host to our trip; Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans, The Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale, The Peabody in Memphis, The Hutton in Nashville and Hotel Felix in Chicago.
Full reviews of all these properties will be coming up soon – but in the meantime I wanted to highlight some of their individual strengths in our first ever "Hotel Awards"!
The Shack Up Inn might be off the beaten track – but that track is truly rocking. You don't need to go into the town centre to experience the home of the blues charm, kick back with a Southern Pecan Ale and your porch and chat with your neighbours, or head over to the Hopson Commissary across the way for some live music!
We ate at a lot of amazing places during our trip – and the hotels we stayed at were amongst them – whilst the Peanut Butter Pie at The Hutton and the Delta Donuts at The Shack Up Inn (best donuts ever) were standout, the Shirred Eggs in Parmesan Cream at Criollo in the Hotel Monteleone was one of the best things I have ever eaten – and the chocolate covered strawberries upon arrival were a wonderful touch.
Whilst lots of the hotels we stayed in offered free Internet (The Peabody and Hotel Felix, and as a courtesy to us specifically, Hotel Monteleone) The Shack Up Inn had, by far, the best – not only was it free, it was super fast and completely stable.
This was a hard one to choose as we stayed in some excessively stylish abodes – but The Hutton stood out for it's perfect blend of modern, classic and bohemian stylings. I loved how colourful and serene the hotel was not only in the rooms, and in the common areas too – The Hutton featured one of the most attractive hotel lobby's I've ever seen and despite it's rather sparse and industrial outer shell – it definitely wins the most style points.
In terms of location it's hard to beat Hotel Monteleone – according to legend, the French Quarter starts in their lobby, located right in the hub of Royal Street, mere blocks from Bourbon Street (if that's your thing), a stones throw from the Mississippi and a brief stroll from Jackson Square, The French Market and all the wonders that surround the French Quarter.
The parking situation in most hotels continues to befuddle me – throughout our trip we payed anything from $15 – $45 a night for parking – which is pretty incredible. Especially in places like The Peabody where you're paying $18 to self park overnight in a lot that's a good 10-15 minute walk from the hotel lobby (complete with 7 sets of heavy closed double doors…I counted, I was that miserable)
The parking at The Shack Up Inn was both convenient (right next to our shack) and free. Fantastic.
We had great service in most every place we stayed but the friendliest and most efficient had to be The Hutton. From the valet to the room service – everyone was kind and helpful – and not in an automated way.
The Shack Up Inn was the obvious and stand out value for money, sure, staying in a shack (which for the record was clean, safe and air conditioned) isn't for everyone but where else are you going to find a place that sleeps three, comes with a bar (one in the shack and two on-site), parking, free internet, breakfast (you can't beat those Delta Donuts) and a piano (yes, IN the shack) for $65 a night?!
It was amazing, and simply can't be beaten.
From the 12th floor of Hotel Monteleone you can see the rooftops and colourful facades of the buildings of the French Quarter, the mighty Mississippi River and the steamboats, cruise ships and pleasure crafts floating on by. It's a view you can watch for hours.
Hotel Felix in Chicago prides itself on it's commitment to eco friendly hospitality. As the first eco Chicago hotel with a Gold LEED certification their commitment is clear. From carpet made from recycled materials to low energy lighting and motion sensored heating, air conditioning and ventilation, they do a great job in proving eco can utterly be chic.
The Shack Up Inn isn't only the most original hotel I visited on #DixieTrip – but probably the most original place I've ever stayed. Every shack has a story and a theme, every shack is filled with fascinating knick knacks and the atmosphere is both peaceful and buzzing with energy, and I don't know many places on the planet that can fill that criteria simultaneously – but The Shack Up Inn does, and it's pretty darn awesome.
Stay tuned for full reviews and city tours from our #DixieTrip!
With the exception of The Shack Up Inn, all stays were complimentary or at a reduced media rate for the purposes of review, but, as always, all opinions are my own.