Historically Chic

Summer is here and these seven boutique hotels within driving distance are calling your name.

As summer days stretch on, the weekend feels longer and the idea of a quick getaway beckons. Inspired by MB’s History Issue, we’ve curated a collection of lodging options that make the most of the bones of the past and celebrate the architecture of times gone by, updated with modern luxuries in mind. 

Henry Howard Hotel 

New Orleans, LA

New Orleans is a day-trip destination much frequented by south Alabamians, but just 15 minutes from the hustle and bustle of the French Quarter lies a thoroughly relaxing escape. A parlor with 12-foot ceilings, rooms supplied with plush cotton-terry towels and a balcony patio overlooking New Orleans make one thing clear: the Henry Howard Hotel has the perfect mix of old-world elegance, modern day luxury and Southern hospitality. Built in 1867 and located in a quiet neighborhood in the Garden District in New Orleans, this boutique hotel offers 18 rooms. The Henry Howard Hotel is perfect for a long weekend stay and is within walking distance of several restaurants and shops. Leave the kiddos at home and enjoy a coffee or cocktail while relaxing on the front porch. During your stay, be sure to wander down Prytania Street to gaze at the gorgeous mansions that line the lane.

Did you know?
Henry Howard was an acclaimed Irish-born architect in Louisiana in the
mid-1800s. Over 40 years, he built 280 buildings in the state and designed many townhouses in New Orleans after the Civil War, including his townhouse-turned-eponymous-hotel.

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The Russell

Nashville, TN

Like the East Nashville neighborhood in which it resides, the Russell Street Church of Christ building has seen it’s share of ups and downs. Built in 1904, the brick edifice has endured epidemics, fires, natural disasters and poverty, taking care of its church members and area residents through it all. After a 1998 tornado ripped the steeple off and caused extensive damage, the church was purchased by a developer who repaired the structural damage and restored the prominent stained-glass windows. Today the neighborhood, like the former church building, is alive. With many stylish eateries and historic homes, the area was named “Nashville’s Coolest Neighborhood” by Vogue Magazine, and The Russell is the most unique boutique hotel in town. The Russell has 23 rooms full of character and original features— stained glass windows, old brick walls, and the pews as headboards— which adds to the guest’s historically chic experience. 

Giving Back
The Russell gives away a generous percentage of each night’s stay to local nonprofits who are helping those experiencing homelessness in Nashville. The average weekend stay provides one of the following to a person in need: 16 nights in a bed, 100 free showers and 30 free meals

Lily Hall 

Pensacola, FL

Bottom Photo by Steven Gray

Only about an hour’s drive away, Lily Hall is the newest places to stay in downtown Pensacola. Though the 15-room boutique lodging house opened earlier this year, its building has a storied history as the former home to Mount Olive Baptist Church. Lilies, the symbol of rebirth, were chosen in the hotel’s name to represent the transformation of the church after it was revived after a fire in 1924 and hurricane in 2004. The “assembly hall” feeling emphasizes the communal tradition of the building. The hotel invites guests to escape into a whimsical fantasy in which, through a series of 18 letters placed throughout the hotel, historical figures, both famous and infamous, stayed at the hotel and communicated with one another. Dine al fresco at Brother Fox, Lily Hall’s Spanish-style restaurant, with much of the menu cooked over a live fire for an unforgettable experience. And when you saddle up for a nightcap at Sister Hen, the hotel’s speakeasy bar, you can almost imagine outlaw Jesse James toasting Mae West in the corner.

Did you know?
Lily Hall is just a few minutes from Palafox Street. Built in 1763 when the British control led Florida, the street contains 250 years of British, Spanish, and American influence and was named one of the Great Streets in America by the American Planning Association in 2013.

Monmouth Historic Inn & Gardens

Natchez, MS

Monmouth Historic Inn & Gardens

Just a state away to the northwest lies Natchez, a quaint riverside Southern town bursting with history. As the oldest city in Mississippi, Natchez has been marvelously preserved since its founding in 1716 with a real draw of monumental architecture from a bygone era. Natchez’s only AAA Four Diamond Hotel offers a history- and nature-centric experience with a touch of luxury. Monmouth Historic Inn & Gardens is a 19th-century historic hotel set in the middle of a sprawling gardens and grounds of oak trees. Guests can stay in the Federal-style-turned-Greek-revival main home, or in one of the seven outbuildings; all the rooms are adorned with period-appropriate furnishings. Don’t forget to take a tour of the home and, for a literal breath of fresh air, stroll amongst 26 acres of manicured gardens. In the evening, pay a visit to Restaurant 1818, and dine in the original men’s and ladies’ parlors bejeweled with authentic period Waterford crystal gasoliers. 

True to history
In the early 1980s, the 26-acre garden was designed by Bill Garbo, a Mississippi horticulturist who specializes in 19th century garden design, lending a deeper degree of authenticity to Monmouth Historic Inn & Gardens.

Shack Up Inn

Clarksdale, MS

Shack Up Inn Clarksdale, MS

For those craving a stay just a hair shy of roughing it, the Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale fits the bill. Guests select from a variety of formerly dilapidated buildings transported across the cornfields of the Delta. Each unique stay includes modern amenities while maintaining rustic charm. A visit to Clarksdale is not complete without stopping by the Delta Blues Museum, which explores the history of the genre. Take the 5-minute drive Downtown to visit nearby restaurants, including Ground Zero Blues Club co-owned by local legend Morgan Freeman, Head back in the evenings, though, because a trip to the Shack Up Inn isn’t complete without grabbing a beer at the bar and listening to live blues played by a rotating roster of artists. 

Inn at the Old Jail

New Orleans, LA

You don’t have to be a prisoner to enjoy a night at this award-winning, Victorian-style guesthouse located in — you guessed it — a former jail and neighborhood police depot. Standing in the iconic Treme neighborhood and listed on the National List of Historic Places, the inn balances antique charm with modern amenities. The nine guest rooms feature soft, welcoming bedding juxtaposed with brick walls and exposed beams to create a cozy respite from the vibrancy of New Orleans. A full-service kitchen serving breakfast and gourmet coffee fuelf you before a day of sightseeing. Before you make your escape, look for an inmate’s name carved into the wall — a reminder of the building’s intriguing past. 

Recovery from Ruin
The Inn at the Old Jail served as a community center until it was decimated by Hurricane Katrina. Trees and plants sprouted from the floors, and it was set to be demolished. But in 2013, the current owners, visitors to New Orleans from Venezuela, renovated it and brought it back to life.

The Roost Hotel 

Ocean Springs, MS

The Roost Hotel Ocean Springs, MS

Boasting one-of-a-kind rooms, an outdoor plunge pool and property surrounded by 200-year-old oak trees, The Roost Hotel is a historic landmark in the heart of Ocean Springs, a tiny Fairhope-like town made for strolling, shopping and dining. Housed in a restored building originally constructed in 1894, the hotel provides guests with a rustic yet modern atmosphere — perfect for relaxation. The rooms are stylishly furnished with hardwood floors and decorated with woodblock art by local favorite Walter Anderson. The Roost is a the ideal home base for a day of shopping and dining, followed by a sunset on the water. Or, enjoy a quiet day lounging by the pool, followed by a cozy night spent by the fire pits. Stop by hotel’s restaurant, The Wilbur Bar, for a classic cocktail or glass of wine to toast your perfect weekend.

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