After a long summer, indulge yourself with a few days to recharge at one of the South's luxurious inns. We chose three of our favorites, each quite different in appearance, but all perfect for an easy weekend retreat. Revel in the stately hospitality and romance of a Natchez mansion. Explore 200 wooded acres at an ultra-lux ranch resort in Texas. Enjoy the long evenings of August in a cool garden in Delaware. Whichever you choose, be careful: A yearly end-of-summer trip to these seductive places may become habit forming.
Sleeping Inn in Natchez
No Southern city provides respite from a steamy August night quite like Natchez, Mississippi. In an area rich with enchanting inns and award-winning accommodations, Dunleith Plantation encompasses all that's pleasurable about the region. Here, lodging isn't merely a place to lay your head but rather a truly stylish, truly Southern experience.
A grand porch with whitewashed columns welcomes guests to the structure's front entrance. Acres of green grass beckon visitors for a barefoot stroll among the wispy blades. And live oaks stand at attention as their branches bow in the breeze. Soaked in charm and romance, this Greek Revival-style mansion underwent a massive renovation in 1999 to restore the property to its original luster.
Twenty-one guestrooms reside on the 40-acre property. Guests may choose from rooms in the main house or the courtyard wing. Individually decorated, most are outfitted with whirlpools, gas-burning fireplaces, period antique furnishings, and even claw-foot tubs. Because August is a slow month, less expensive rates start at $89 for the courtyard rooms and $175 for the main house.
Antique beds make sleep an event all to itself. In the morning, guests look forward to a complimentary full breakfast at the property's on-site restaurant, The Castle. With choices such as eggs Benedict, country ham, and buttermilk biscuits, it's hard to leave the table.
The Castle shines brightest at dinner (entrées range $12 to $25). Exposed brick, Elizabethan tapestries, and a large fireplace add a touch of medieval elegance. The menu changes regularly, but you can't go wrong with the Pan-Seared Sea Bass and Godchaux Salad, a delicious blend of fresh greens, bacon, and sprinkles of blue cheese.
Later, a tour of the home showcases fine antiques and lore about its past residents. Pay special attention when the guide
talks about brides of Dunleith families who would etch their initials in the windowpanes. Visitors can still see their handiwork
Dunleith Plantation: 84 Homochitto Street, Natchez, MS 39120; 1-800-433-2445 or www.dunleithplantation.com.