A trend is growing among travelers for more intimate lodging with a bit of surprise
By LYNN LOFTON
Large hotels and chain lodgings sell consistency so travelers know what to expect. However, an increasing number of travelers prefer intimacy and an element of surprise which have fueled the popularity of boutique hotels.
Generally defined as a small hotel with 10 to 100 rooms, boutique hotels are not part of a chain and each one is different. They began appearing in major world cities in the 1980s and the trend continues.
Mississippi has several boutique hotels scattered about the state.
Rickie Lillian, manager of Jackson’s Old Capitol Inn, thinks the more personable feel and service of boutique hotels contribute to the growing popularity.
“It’s like staying in someone’s home. It’s not generic,” she said.
“Our guests return and we know who they are and what they like. We develop relationships with them, and they tell us if they see anything that needs to be done.”
She describes the Old Capitol Inn — now in its 20th year — as a full-service boutique hotel with amenities that include a garden, meeting and reception rooms, and a recently opened rooftop bar with live music that’s open to the public.
Sukie Mollendor, who with her husband David owns Hotel Chester in Starkville, shares Lillian’s sentiments.
“A boutique hotel is bigger than a B&B but not like a cookie cutter chain hotel,” she said. “The Art Deco Hotel Chester was built during the Gilded Age and has a sense of history. Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey said it reminds him of hotels in Europe.”
A brief tour of five of Mississippi’s boutique hotels includes the Alluvian in Greenwood, Hotel Chester, Hotel Whiskey in Pass Christian, Old Capitol Inn and the White House Hotel in Biloxi.
318 Howard St., Greenwood, MS 38930; 866-600-5201; thealluvian.com
The Alluvian features 45 guest rooms and five suites with decor inspired by the Mississippi Delta. The hotel honors the heritage of Mississippi with works by state artists, as well as a library with films, books and music by Southerners. For guests who want to stay longer, the Alluvian Lofts offer two-week minimum stays. The lofts feature Viking kitchens, high speed Internet and more.
OLD CAPITOL INN
226 North State St., Jackson, MS 39201; 601-359-9000; 888-359-9001; oldcapitolinn.com
The Old Capitol Inn offers luxury accommodations with typical hotel amenities, including hair dryer, ironing board, cable TV, high-speed Internet, but toiletries are high-end and housekeeping cleans twice a day. Each room is decorated differently and boast names such as Elvis Sleeps and Magnolia Vale. Jacuzzi/Honeymoon suites, one-bedroom suites and standard rooms are available, and feature views of the city or the garden.
101 North Jackson St., Starkville, MS 39759; 866-325-5005; historichotelchester.com
Historic Hotel Chester is two blocks from Old Highway 82 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel features 37 rooms and suites and offers high speed Internet, luxury bathroom amenities, cable TV and Sealy mattresses. It has two dining options for guests, but is located within walking distance of other restaurants, bars, shops and attractions.
115 Davis Ave., Pass Christian, MS 39571; 228-493-6200; hotelwhiskey.biz.
The state’s newest boutique hotel is located on the picturesque Gulf and has 11 beautifully appointed rooms, including a luxurious 1,000-square-foot suite. Specialty selected cocktails are complimentary at check in. There is a bar and fine dining restaurant on property. Other amenities include free parking and WiFi, non-smoking rooms and mini refrigerators. The beach, harbor and shops are within a short walk.
THE WHITE HOUSE HOTEL
1230 Beach Blvd., Biloxi; 228-233-1230; whitehousebiloxi.com
This historic property was renovated and opened in 2014 with 76 spacious rooms — 16 of which are suites. Guests may use the swimming pool which is complete with a pool bar, fire pits, hot tub and stylish outdoor furniture. In a picture-postcard setting, the hotel sits on a rise among lush grounds and huge oak trees with a commanding view of the Mississippi Sound. Included in the amenities are a lobby bar and Cora’s restaurant.