As I drive along the Mississippi River Road and turn down the pathway towards Nottoway Plantation, I have to stop for a minute and just stare. I've seen the photos, but viewing this incredible estate in person takes my breath away.
Nottoway is located just south of Baton Rouge in Iberville Parish. An area rich in history, Iberville is known for its magnificent antebellum mansions, mighty oaks and stunning waterways. The mighty Mississippi runs right through the parish, and the stunning Atchafalaya Basin (the largest wetland and swamp in the United States) is right there, waiting to be explored.
Back in its heyday, Iberville was the state’s leading producer of sugarcane. Wealthy sugar plantation owners built opulent show homes to flaunt their affluence. Completed in 1859, Nottoway’s 53,000 square foot palatial white mansion was a sight to see then, as it is now. The home features 64 rooms and countless extravagant features like 22 massive exterior columns, 12 hand-carved Italian marble fireplaces, exquisitely detailed plaster frieze moldings, enormous 11-foot doors and a lavish pure white oval ballroom, as well as unheard of innovative features, like modern bathrooms with running water and a gas plant providing gas lighting throughout the home. It is the largest and most magnificent remaining antebellum mansion in the South.
Nottoway has survived the Civil War, a variety of owners, and years of decline and disrepair to become a favorite destination for visitors. Lovingly restored to her days of glory, the mansion is now also a fully-functioning luxury hotel, with such accommodations as two elegant ballrooms, a salon, golf and spa packages, basketball and tennis courts, a fitness room and much more. Here you will experience a unique blend of Southern history and hospitality.
My visit to Nottoway was truly awe-inspiring as I stepped back into the 19th century. I was struck by the size of this “American Castle” and its breath-taking grounds. I decided to go for the full, immersive experience by staying overnight. There's a wide variety of room choices, including some lovely cottages and a carriage house, all with luxurious amenities. I opted to stay in one of the beautifully renovated private Bed and Breakfast rooms in the main mansion because I wanted a real antebellum experience.
On the ground level is the wonderful Mansion Restaurant, which serves up fresh and delicious Louisiana cuisine daily. I especially liked their breakfast buffet, a great way to start a day of exploring in beautiful Iberville Parish. A tour of the mansion was included in my room rate, and all I can say is realization exceeded expectation! My guide was very knowledgeable and friendly, and learning about the history of the mansion and the plantation was quite fascinating. There’s also a museum, and though it is on the small side, it is still very interesting and well worth seeing.
Besides being a lovely place to stay, Nottoway is open to the public for guided plantation tours and is a much sought after destination for weddings, social and business events, parties and retreats.
I highly recommend a visit to Iberville Parish, and if you want to experience old-world charm and Southern hospitality at its best, make plans to stay at the amazing Nottoway Plantation.