38614 Travel Guide

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Who'd You Rather: Ike Turner Or John Lee Hooker? The Choice Is Yours In Clarksdale

Where: 615 Sunflower Ave [map], Clarksdale, MS, United States, 38614
August 4, 2011 at 10:31 AM | by | Comments (0)

All this week, Julia Buckley will be taking us down the Blues trail in the Mississippi Delta and giving us the lowdown on the hotel scene. So kick off your blue suede shoes and get comfy.

If you only have time to stay in one Delta town, it’s probably going to be Clarksdale – there’s more to see and do there than the other places. And if the lux Lofts at the Five and Dime are out of your budget’s league, as they were for us, then you should do what we did and go for The Riverside Hotel.

The Riverside oozes blues history - so much so that it even has its own blues marker standing outside. So if you want to immerse yourself in the music, this is where to come. First up, the sober history: the building was originally Clarksdale’s Afro-American hospital, and it’s here that blues singer Bessie Smith died after a car crash (according to legend, she was refused entry to a closer, white hospital).

Then in 1944 the building was extended – think doubled in size – and converted into a hotel by the redoubtable-sounding Mrs ZL Hill. Being Clarksdale’s only African-American hotel during segregation meant that every black artist who came to Clarksdale (and there were many) stayed there. John Lee Hooker, Ike Turner, Muddy Waters, Robert Nighthawk, Aretha Franklin’s dad, etc etc. Even JFK Jr stayed here when he came for a blues festival.

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Clarksdale's Lofts May Cost More Than A Dime, But They're Probably Worth It

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 211 Yazoo Avenue [map], Clarksdale, MS, United States, 38614
August 2, 2011 at 10:26 AM | by | Comments (0)

All this week, Julia Buckley will be taking us down the Blues trail in the Mississippi Delta and giving us the lowdown on the hotel scene. So kick off your blue suede shoes and get comfy.

So you want to visit the Mississippi Delta, but the Tallahatchie Flats seem just a little too dirty, you don’t want a chain motel, and the Alluvian, lovely as it is, could be anywhere. Never fear, though – you shan’t be robbed of your authentic Delta experience. You just have to move an hour north of Greenwood to Clarksdale. There, you’ll find The Lofts At The Five And Dime.

Although the Lofts are the swankiest places to stay in Clarksdale, they’re not exactly a hotel – they’re six mini apartments above the old Woolworth's building in downtown Clarksdale. They’re all owned privately but rented out pretty much permanently. All this really means to you is that you get a full kitchen, living room and washer-dryer included with your bedroom (score), that each loft looks different from the next (fine) and that, occasionally, you’ll see marks of the owners (in Loft D, for instance, there was a photo of the family in the bathroom).

You won’t feel all adrift as you might in a normal apartment, though, because the whole outfit is overseen by Bubba O’Keefe (to be honest, it’s really worth staying there just to say you’ve stayed with a man called Bubba). If we tell you Bubba is the epitome of southern hospitality, you probably won’t believe us, so we’ll just tell you that we met him as he was showing a guest – and, now, a friend – round the WROX museum in town, which he owns, and our quick museum tour turned into a two hour sit down and chat on the original sofas upstairs where Ike Turner used to work and Elvis popped in to play. Amazing.

So, yeah, Bubba will be your friend/concierge in town. Don’t worry about that.

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Inside The Shotgun Houses of The Shack Up Inn

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 001 Commissary Circle [map], Clarksdale, United States, 38614
August 24, 2009 at 3:35 PM | by | Comments (0)

After we loved our stay in the Tallahatchie Flats last week, a friendly Mississippi local told us we should see the Shack Up Inn about five miles outside of Clarksdale (home to Morgan Freeman’s blues club, Ground Zero and restaurant, Madidi).

So we popped along and, sure enough, we thought it was great. The Shack Up is set on what remains of the Hopson Plantation (part of the official Blues Trail). It’s bigger than the Tallahatchie Flats – there are 10 shacks, one house, and 10 “bin” rooms in the old cotton gin. Shacks cost from $60 a night, and the bin rooms from $65.

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