Hickory Shades Motel: No frills but clean in Brown County, Indiana

No frills near plenty to see

When we headed to Indiana for the Ohio State University/Indiana University football game in October, we aimed for inexpensive lodging with sightseeing potential. The L-shaped Hickory Shades Motel, between Bloomington and Nashville, was perfect for what we wanted. Happily, we hit Brown County during the peak of fall foliage glory. It was a good thing that spending large amounts of time in our room wasn’t part of our agenda. Although it was clean and tidy, it was small.

The two double beds, two-person size table and TV took up most of the space.  But that suited us fine since we didn’t arrive until almost 11 p.m. on a Friday night, headed out for breakfast by 9:30 a.m., and didn’t return for our Saturday night’s stay until almost midnight. Sunday was another early start so we could take in the Brown County State Park and the town of Nashville before heading home.

Although our late arrival was a bit of a concern on our end, the Hickory Shades Motel management was ready for us. An envelope with our receipt and instructions on how to get into our room was taped on the door of the motel’s office. Except for when my husband made the reservation, the instructions taped to the door was the only interaction we had with management at all. 

This is a come and go kind of place where human interaction may or may not happen. I did have a lovely talk with the man who was staying in the room next to ours. Evidently, he’s a longtime guest who lives at the motel for a large part of the year and lets the management know if anything goes awry. He said he does look after the place–but loosely.

As we found out, the Hickory Shades Motel does not have a desk clerk or daily room cleaning service. The rooms don’t have phones either, however a coffee pot with coffee and creamer is an amenity. BUT, we only had enough coffee for one night. Because there wasn’t room service, our beds stayed unmade. There were plenty of towels. 

The Indiana University Marching Band

Despite the no frills approach, I have to say, it was pleasant to be so casual and not feel as if we had to stay around the motel to get our money’s worth. Instead, we were able to spend enough time out and about that what might have been just a quick trip to see a football game turned into a mini vacation of exploration.

If you ever have the chance to visit Nashville, Bloomington and the area around Brown County, here are a few suggestions:

Do spend time in Nashville browsing through the shops. It’s a charming village with a huge artistic bent. My son and I did take the tram ride around town and toured the Country Museum.

Also, pay the $5 per carload entrance fee to get into the Brown County State Park. We had a hearty country buffet breakfast at the park’s lodge.  The park, just minutes from the Hickory Shades Motel, is a gorgeous place of rolling mountains and valleys.

The courthouse in Bloomington's town square

Bloomington, with its courthouse square, is made for browsing. The surrounding shops lean towards the moderately upscale boutique types. We also visited the The WonderLab science museum and the Butler Winery Tasting Room before the game.

Hickory Shades Motel
5714 St. Rd. 46 west,
Nashville, Indiana

To make reservations, click here.  You can phone or email as well. Phone: 812-988-4694; Email: hickoryshadesmotel@att.net 

Current nightly rates for two persons begin at $49.00. (We paid $129 for the two nights, but we were there during the peak season, 9/14/12-11/8/12.)

 If you stay for two nights, the 2nd night is ½ standard rate ONLY if booked online with NO phone calls to motel.

Photos courtesy of Jamie Rhein

About The Author


  1. Carolyn B. Heller
  2. Jamie Rhein