By Jennifer Campbell - Just Chasing Rabbits
The Mississippi Gulf Coast is home to so many fantastic attractions and activities that you’ll want to get plenty of rest each night of your stay. After a full day at the INFINITY Science Center, The Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum, and both the Biloxi Shrimping Trip and the Biloxi Fishing Trip, we were thrilled to be heading to the gorgeous Gulf Hills Hotel in Ocean Springs for the night. Read on for our experience and our Gulf Hills Hotel review.
Located on a picturesque golf course and within a distinguished residential community, the Gulf Hills Hotel is quite an impressive sight (especially as we drove onto the grounds after dark and found the hotel beautifully lit). Though the quiet neighborhood and winding roads make the hotel feel spectacularly secluded, it’s only a few minutes away from restaurants, shopping, and attractions.
As we entered the elegant lobby, we noticed an Elvis cardboard standup staring down at us from the balcony overhead, some huge lantern light fixtures, a beautiful staircase, and an inviting dining area.
We approached the front desk to begin checking in, and just had to comment on the size of the “ring for service” bell. This thing is probably a foot in diameter. Did we ring it? Of course. Had to.
During the check in process, we began commenting on the decor, style, and history of the hotel. We knew that it was once known as “The Dude Ranch” and was Elvis’ hotel of choice on the Gulf Coast in the fifties. We were then offered a tour of the suite upstairs, Elvis-themed of course, and known as the “Love Me Tender, Love Me Suite.” So clever, right?!
The Love Me Tender, Love Me Suite:
Each room of the Love Me Tender, Love Me Suite is different, but they all connect and all contain Elvis memorabilia as well as various period furniture pieces. Often, the rooms are rented together by large families or wedding parties.
Don’t think that Elvis was the only celebrity to stay at this location! Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland have also visited. Another well-known name is in the Gulf Hills Hotel history as well: Al Capone. The story says that the hotel, first known as The Dude Ranch, was built in 1927 as a hideout for Capone himself. There’s even talk of a secret tunnel that may lead out to the Old Fort Bayou.
The Oversized Double Room:
Our room was not part of the Love Me Tender, Love Me Suite, but rather a standard oversized double situated on the ground floor with much easier access to the parking lot and our car. The suite was gorgeous, but we do enjoy staying on a first floor near our parking space. Because of some refurbishment, our walk was a bit farther (to get around some construction or wet paint) to and from our car, but this would not be the case for future guests.
The room was clean, except for a few places that needed dusting (frames hanging on the wall), but we had no complaints. It consisted of two double beds, a small seating area with chair and table, kitchenette (including mini fridge and microwave), and a bathroom. The decor could be seen as a bit outdated, but I felt that it fit the feel of the building. More original than modern. I’d actually hate to see this place get a makeover, be modernized, and lose its historic and authentic feel. Note that all rooms are smoke-free!
Other room amenities include iron and ironing board, hair dryer, cable TV, and complimentary Wi-fi.
Outdoor Offerings and Other Options:
Sometime during the night, a rainstorm rolled in and decided to stay. So, the next morning, we were unable to explore the grounds and take as many outdoor photos of the exterior as we normally would. However, we did try our best without getting too drenched or compromising our cameras! Even in the rain, we were impressed by the tennis courts, Olympic-sized pool, and the waterfront view.
Gulf Hills is not only a hotel, but also a convention center that offers space for weddings, receptions, banquets, conferences, and other meetings. The hotel sits on Gulf Hills Golf Course, an eighteen-hole course that was also created in 1927.
Deluxe Continental Breakfast:
After running around in the rain, we stopped by the dining area next to the lobby for a deluxe continental breakfast. Breakfast is served every morning, and we made good use of it by grabbing a few doughnuts and some juice to start our day. The spread includes various pastries/bread, fresh fruit, assorted yogurt, waffles, cereal, and beverages including milk, coffee, tea, and juices.
American Spirit Award:
Hurricane Katrina is such a large part of the lives of the people of the Gulf Coast. The Gulf Hills Hotel opened its doors, during the worst of the hurricane, to people of the community looking for shelter. Working together, jobs were delegated each morning, and the people of Gulf Hills made it through the hurricane. Because of this service to the community, the Gulf Hills Hotel and its manager, Donna Brown, were awarded the American Spirit Award in 2006.
Overall, we enjoyed our stay at the Gulf Hills Hotel. We loved the Elvis connection and the elegant old Southern-style theming of the rooms. The decor is very fitting of the building itself, especially for a hotel with the motto “Small Town Charm and Southern Splendor.” All of the staff was more than hospitable, showing so much kindness from the moment we first set foot in the lobby. Hearing the story of how the Gulf Hills Hotel opened its doors to those in need during and after Hurricane Katrina absolutely warmed our hearts and brought tears to my eyes. Gulf Hills Hotel should be so proud of its employees and community.
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