Normally, I don’t plan on reviewing hotels in Small Town USA. After all, if you’ve seen one Hampton Inn, you’ve seen them all, right? I will, however, make occasional exceptions for hotels I consider especially good values. After all, road trippers need quality places to stay. One such exception: the Magnolia Bluffs Casino Hotel in Natchez, Mississippi. We just needed a place to stay for a night on our way home, but ended up very pleasantly surprised with our visit.
We booked our room via Priceline and paid $93, which included a $10 casino credit in the room with the deposit via phone games. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to actually visit the casino. I probably saved myself a lot more than $10 by staying away, though. The rate beat the Hampton Inn next door by about $15.
Magnolia Bluffs Casino Hotel
- 645 South Canal Street, Natchez, Mississippi
- Website: http://www.magnoliabluffscasinos.com/hotel/
- Features: salt water pool, free hot breakfast, fitness center, business center, free WiFi, free shuttle to casino
Directions: at the east end of the Mississippi River bridge as you enter Natchez. From US 84, cross the bridge and take the first left (Canal Street). The hotel is on your right. It is roughly one mile south of downtown Natchez on Canal Street. Natchez itself is roughly 175 miles north of New Orleans and 100 miles south of Jackson.
Date of stay: Friday, April 28, 2017
Check-in and Common Areas
We arrived at the Magnolia Bluffs Casino Hotel around 6 pm, and were welcomed by a friendly agent. She handed me a voucher for our casino credit, then provided our keys to our fourth floor room. Next to the check-in area is a large, spacious lobby with plenty of natural light.
Though the hotel features a full-service bar behind the lobby, it’s apparently open only from 5 to 7 pm. Besides breakfast, you’ll have to head elsewhere for food and drink. More on that later.
To the right of the lobby is an outdoor, salt water pool (open seasonally). It gets warm in southern Mississippi by late April, so the pool attracted quite a few families. I managed to grab a couple of good photos in the morning, though, before the crowd arrived. In the morning, you can bring your breakfast poolside or to a cabana if you want some fresh air.
Further back behind the lobby is a small business center. Really, just a computer, printer, and oddly placed TV.
Next to the business center sits the fitness center, though I couldn’t get a good photo.
Compared to our massive rooms at the Phoenix All Suites and Hotel St. Marie, the rooms at the Magnolia Bluffs Casino Hotel seemed small. Nevertheless, it was fine for our party of 3 adults and a baby. Our room had two double beds. Helpfully, the space between the beds made a perfect spot for the travel crib. In addition, I thought the hardwood floors gave the room a touch of class you don’t often find in a $90 hotel.
Meanwhile, on the nightstand – a useful set of two plugs and two USB connections. Easy and convenient no matter which bed you choose. The hotel provides free WiFi, which was reasonably fast.
All rooms feature a microwave, large refrigerator, and flat screen TV. The TV was nicely centered between both beds, making it easy to watch from either. The TV stand also provides ample storage space.
In the corner next to the TV is a decent-sized desk with a very decent office chair. A coffee maker occupies the left-hand corner of the desk.
The room also contains a sitting area with two high-backed chairs by the window.
All guests receive two complimentary bottles of water and a package of cookies in the room as a welcome amenity. I consider that a very nice touch for the price point.
Meanwhile, an open closet storage area resides by the door. The upper shelf came in handy to baby proof our computers and shoes.
The bathroom is pretty standard for a 3-star property, with generic toiletries and a tub/shower combo.
Breakfast/Food & Beverage
Yes, yes, I know. Hotel breakfast is an overrated benefit. After all, I said so myself. In this case, though, the Magnolia Bluffs Casino Hotel provides breakfast to all guests free of charge, and offered a lower rate than the chain hotels next door (Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn) that also offer it. So, I though it worth discussing in that context. For a free offering at a small property, I found the spread pretty impressive. First, you’ll find a selection of cold cereals and breads, along with a toaster. You can also try your hand with the waffle maker. Endless fun for Ashok in a few years, I’m sure.
The spread also offers a selection of juices, milk, and yogurt, and a bowl of fruit.
Finally, a quite decent selection of hot items. No, it’s not the most glamorous selection, but everything tasted fresh. As a connoisseur of Southern biscuits and gravy, I can testify that the cream gravy makes the grade.
Of course, since Natchez is within spitting distance of New Orleans, you can get your Community Coffee fix. One minor disappointment – no coffee and chicory blend.
Overall, while there’s no one spectacular thing about this breakfast buffet, it adds up to a solid offering, especially given the price paid for the room. I’ve gotten skimpier buffets at hotels charging far more. For a road trip warrior trying to stay within budget, it works out well. Interestingly, the Magnolia Bluffs Casino Hotel opens its buffet to the public for $5.95 a person. That seems like a really good deal for what you get. Maybe that’s why the breakfast room was so crowded.
Breakfast is the only meal available directly on property, though. You’ll have to head to town for other offerings. The good news – it’s only about a mile to downtown Natchez, where you can find a variety of eateries. You can walk it in about 15 minutes if the weather is nice. Of course, you might notice something missing…
Where’s the Casino?
The name “Magnolia Bluffs Casino Hotel” is something of a misnomer. Why? There’s not actually a casino on-site. The casino sits about a mile and a half north along the river near downtown. I don’t know the whole history behind the split locations. But, it probably has something to do with the law authorizing casinos in Mississippi in the first place. The original law mandated that casinos could only operate from “float-worthy vessels”. That meant riverboats, albeit boats effectively in name only since they didn’t actually go anywhere. I guess it’s a throwback to those days, when hotels popped up adjacent to the boat. Anyway, the hotel provides a free shuttle service to and from 24/7. (In this case, not having a blackjack table to walk downstairs to undoubtedly saved me a bunch of money…)
As mentioned, the Magnolia Bluffs Casino Hotel is roughly one mile south of downtown Natchez. What’s there to see and do in Natchez? Primarily artifacts of the old, old South, especially a collection of pristine Antebellum homes that survived the Civil War. If you enjoy exploring these homes, many now operate as bed and breakfasts. Natchez also lies on the Blues Highway (US 61), a scenic alternative to drive between New Orleans and Memphis. It also marks the beginning of the Natchez Trace Parkway, a historic byway operated by the National Park Service that meanders northeast to Tennessee. Within a short drive of Natchez are several historic sites, ranging from Native American burial grounds to Civil War battlefields.
I thought the Magnolia Bluffs Casino Hotel provided excellent value for just $93. As a frame of reference, we paid more than that for an average Quality Inn off the interstate in Lake Charles earlier in the trip. The lack of an actual casino is a bummer if that’s what you’re coming here for. But if you’re a road tripper passing through trying to stay within budget, the Magnolia Bluffs Casino Hotel is a great choice.
This post is part of my trip report series about our first vacation as a family to Gulf Shores, Alabama. Click here for the trip report index and introductory post.