When I was a child learning to count and spell, I never thought I would visit Mississippi, the word used to measure time and to prove how good I was at spelling. But, I took a chance on Clarksdale. It’s a small town located in the north part of Mississippi, about an hour south of Memphis in Tennessee, and right in the middle of the Delta region. Clarksdale claims to be the birthplace of blues music – Robert Johnson famously sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads there – and arguably all iterations of rock and roll since, and hosts tourists at The Shack Up Inn.
When you visit the Shack Up Inn website, they tell you “The Ritz it ain’t!” setting it up as a rustic, no-frills place to stay. You can choose between a one-bedroom room in an old cotton gin, or a stand-alone shack. But even though there isn’t any room service, extra amenities like a gym, phones or wake up calls, the rooms are clean, the TV works, and they are decorated with old concert posters and newspaper clippings.
The generally accepted sentiment towards Clarksdale is that people come for the blues and return for the people. I found this statement to be mostly true of the people I met, but definitely accurate of The Shack Up Inn staff.
When I realized my drive from Atlanta, Georgia was going to take two hours longer than planned, and that I was likely to run into a storm on the way, I called the hotel to ask them to leave keys in case I arrived later than 8pm. The woman who answered my call gave me very detailed instructions which I forgot as soon as I hung up the phone and resolved to hope for the best when I got close. My Google Maps took me on a detour back onto the highway instead of just telling me to turn around when I missed the turn into the hotel driveway, but I managed to make my way in over the bumpy dirt road and through the potholes.
There was nothing happening at the hotel bar when I arrived late Thursday night, but on Friday it hosted Lightnin’ Malcolm – an incredibly talented guitarist and singer, whose bio boasts collaborations with The Black Keys, Robert Plant, and Gary Clark Jr – and Shawn Williams Band on Saturday. The bar fit in with the rest of the hotel’s aesthetic – rustic, functional, and authentic – and offered standard American beer alongside local craft beer.
If you want a luxury stay in Clarksdale, this is not the hotel for you. But if you want to meet locals, have a chance to watch some bands play, and interact with very friendly staff, then you will enjoy your stay.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
There is a two night minimum stay on weekends, and the rate may increase during peak times, but for most of the year, the cost starts at $70 per night for a room in the cotton gin, or $75 per night for a shack.
Address: 001 Commissary Cir Rd, Clarksdale, MS 38614, USA
For more details about the hotel head HERE or book using the form below!
The writer stayed at their own expense.