Prita and I in front of Linden’s famous front door
During our recent road trip to Natchez, Mississippi, my wife and I decided to do something different and stay in a bed and breakfast. I shouldn’t say completely different, because a long weekend in a B&B is something we enjoy doing once in a while. But Natchez provides a unique B&B experience that made us specifically want ot stay in one while we were there – the city features several antebellum homes that have been restored and converted into hotels. We ended up selecting the Linden for our short stay, based on a combination of good reviews found online and a decent price for our desired dates.
NOTE: this is Part 2 of my trip report series about our long weekend in Natchez in April. Other installments in this series:
- A Taste of the Old South – The Antebellum Homes of Natchez, Mississippi
- Hotel Review – The Linden Bed & Breakfast, Natchez, Mississippi (this post)
- A Driving Tour of The History of Natchez, From Native Americans to the Civil War
- Restaurant Reviews – The Cuisine of Southwest Mississippi
Linden Antebellum Bed & Breakfast
- 1 Conner Circle, Natchez, MS
- Features: free WiFi, free Southern breakfast, free tour of home, city tour information available upon request
Approximately 1 1/2 miles east of downtown Natchez, near the “Forks of the Road” historic site. From US 84 east, turn left at South Canal Street (first traffic light after crossing the river), then turn right at State Street. The road will become John A. Quitman Blvd. Shortly thereafter, turn right at Melrose Avenue, then quickly left on Linden Drive. Immediately turn left into the house’s driveway (Conner Circle). From US 61 north, turn left at Melrose Montebello Parkway, which becomes Melrose Avenue. Turn right at the SECOND intersection with Linden Drive, then right on Conner Circle. From US 61 south/US 84 west, exit at Devereaux Drive and continue straight towards downtown. Just after the road splits into two one-way pairs, turn left at Junkin Street, which soon becomes Melrose Avenue. Turn right at Linden Drive and again at Conner Circle.
Natchez itself is 90 miles north of Baton Rouge via US 61; 170 miles north of New Orleans via IH-10 and US 61; 95 miles south of Monroe via IH-20 and US 425; and 105 miles south of Jackson via State Highway 18 and US 61. The nearest commercial air service is via Baton Rouge (BTR), with more options available via New Orleans (MSY).
Date of Stay: April 24-25, 2015
If you’ve never stayed at a B&B, it’s a decidedly different experience that staying in a traditional hotel, especially the major chains we typically review. B&Bs tend to be very small; it’s unusual for one to have more than about 20 rooms, and the Linden has six, each with its own name instead of a number – The Feltus Room, Dick’s Suite, Marjorie’s Room, Celice’s Room, Charlotte’s Room, and Conner Room. The names derive from the name of a family member that lived in the particular room, another practice that is common at B&Bs, especially in the South. The primary advantages of a B&B are personalized service, historic ambience, and of course, a full hearty breakfast each morning at no additional charge. The downsides? Since B&Bs are targeted at people traveling for special occasions (especially romantic occasions like anniversaries), they’re generally not ideally located for business travelers. In particular, most B&Bs don’t have a clerk staffing the desk after hours, so they either may not permit late check-ins or require you to call ahead and make special arrangements if you will be late. Since each room tends to be unique, you don’t have the consistency you would find in a chain hotel. Also remember, many B&Bs are situated in historic houses or buildings, which can occasionally get cranky maintenance-wise.
We arrived about 4:45, and as we pulled up, the house manager, Ann, actually came outside to greet my wife and I personally and welcome us to the Linden. After checking us in, she gave us a quick tour of the facilities, then took us upstairs to the Conner Room, which we had booked. Only one problem, though – the toilet didn’t flush, and she couldn’t fix it (the manager often doubles as maintenance man at smaller properties). Luckily, they weren’t full, so she upgraded us to Marjorie’s Room, a considerably larger room, at no charge.
If you’ve never been to a Southern antebellum home – they’re huge, both inside and out. The home originally sat on more than 150 acres, which was eventually whittled down to the 7-acre footprint of today. It consists of three separate wings: the main portion of the home built by 1790, and the east and west wings that were added over time. Unlike some other antebellum homes, all of Linden’s rooms are located in the house itself, with none in outbuildings or detached wings or additions. When Jane Conner purchased the home in 1849 (the current owner, Mrs. Feltus, is a descendant of Mrs. Conner), she planted seven Lebanese cedar trees in the front lawn, five of which still stand today. The home’s most famous piece, though, is its front door, which was copied for the front door of “Tara” in Gone With the Wind. Needless to say, the house is pretty incredible to look at.
View of front of the house
View from the rear, with the main house flanked by the two wings added later
The famous front door, used as the model for “Tara”
A common feature of Southern homes, a huge front porch
Side view of front, with the five remaining Lebanese cedars
Landscaped back yard with view of old servants’ quarters (not open to public)
You may be wondering why there’s such an expansive breezeway behind the main building. Keep in mind, this is the Deep South; before the days of electricity and air conditioning, breezeways were used to “catch” the wind coming in from the south, thus providing conditions slightly less oppressive. In fact, many residents would sleep out on their breezeways, rather than in their bedrooms, to escape the stifling heat and humidity of summer. Today, the big breezeway is used as a place to socialize and sip coffee in the morning before breakfast is served.
Our room, Marjorie’s Room, is on the second floor of the main house. This is a larger room, featuring both a four-poster queen canopy bed and a single bed in the corner, a bathroom with sitting area, and replica period furnishings. Aside from a persnicketty door lock – blame the late April humidity for causing the door to expand – our room was great, and the plush bed was mighty comfy. Surprisingly, there are plenty of plugs for laptops and phones, though a couple of them didn’t work. If you need to do some web surfing, the WiFi is tolerably fast; it was good enough to make a couple of calls with my Vonage app, anyway. Closet space is extremely limited due to the TV taking up most of the room (more on the small closets later), but given that most guests only stay 2-3 days, it’s not really an issue.
Comfy canopy bed
Fireplace and replica period furnishings
Closet with flat-screen TV – NOT a period furnishing
Bathroom with sitting area
Extra bed in the corner
Of course, the “breakfast” part of a bed & breakfast is perhaps even more important than the “bed”, and the Linden didn’t disappoint in that regard. Breakfast is served at 8:30 A.M. daily in the original main dining room at a real dining table, giving you the opportunity to mix and mingle with other guests. A traditional Southern breakfast is served here – scrambled eggs with grits, bacon, mini-buttermilk biscuits (a Natchez specialty I’d later discover), and fruit cocktail with orange juice and water.
A delicious spread
The spacious dining room, with a real dining table
This was a good breakfast. Grits are something of an acquired taste, but I like them, and these were buttery and rich. The little mini-biscuits were great, flaky and exceedingly tasty with a little butter. Scrambled eggs are scrambled eggs, and the bacon was cooked nicely, not overdone to the point of being burnt like is too often the case. The one complaint I had was the fruit cocktail, which pretty clearly came from a can. In this case, the can had been in a refrigerator that was set too cold and thus the cocktail was still partly frozen (both mornings), not a pleasant experience. In case you’re wondering ab0out the bell-shaped fixture above the table, Ann explained that it’s a primitive ceiling fan. Servants would take turns pulling a rope on each side, causing the fan to wave back and forth across the table.
After breakfast each morning, either Ann or the home’s owner, Mrs. Feltus, provides guests with a tour of the home. If you’re not a guest, tours are offered to the public Wednesday through Saturday at 11 A.M. for $15 per person; the tour includes all common areas, plus two bedrooms downstairs that are not rented out to guests. A note about the furnishings: we were told that many pieces are, indeed, originals from the 19th century. Much of the furniture eventually passed down to the Conners’ descendants, at which time they would be removed from the house. However, Mrs. Festus has apparently succeeded in buying back several items.
Living area adjacent to the dining room
Living area across the hall
Other side of the living area
Hallway in the main wing
An unused bedroom, used by one of the Conners’ children
You will notice in all of these photos that closets are conspicuously missing, something I alluded to earlier in this post. The reason – in pre-Civil War Mississippi, property taxes were assessed based on the number of rooms in a home. A walk-in closet was considered a room, thus, houses were typically built without them.
Only breakfast is served in the hotel, but there are several restaurants to choose from in downtown Natchez. Speaking of which, though it’s a long walk to downtown from the house (about a mile and a half), it’s an easy 5-minute drive. One of the benefits of small town living.
- You’re in a 200+ year old home, which is a pretty cool experience
- More personal interaction with the house staff and other guests
- In a quiet residential area, but close to downtown and Mississippi River attractions, and easy to get to from the major highways
- You’re in a 200+ year old home, and houses that old can get cranky maintenance-wise
- Few attractions or restaurants within walking distance
- No loyalty points for points junkies
My wife and I love going to a B&B once in a while, and this was a great experience. I have a weakness for historic homes and smaller towns, and enjoy being personally greeted and being made to feel welcome by the manager without holding Super Platinum Titanium status in a loyalty program. I also enjoy the enhanced personal interaction you can have with other guests by, for example, sitting down for breakfast at the table like you would at home. However, be aware of what you’re getting into – if you’re a points junkie, need a fully equipped business center, or just don’t like the slower small town experience, a B&B probably isn’t for you.