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What Is Southern Hospitality?

sign saying hello neighbor come on in

Southern hospitality is a concept that is known around the world. The phrase is used a lot to describe various values, but southern hospitality itself is often defined in different ways. To properly understand what it means to be hospitable in a southern sense, it is necessary to look to the history and context that has made the phrase so important today. In Atlanta, southern hospitality has become an integral part of service and tourism, with many travelers coming to the Peach State to simply experience its charm. Our guides and drivers at Roundabout Atlanta exemplify southern hospitality through the way they welcome all of our guests and their willingness to go the extra mile to ensure every experience is special.


The History of Southern Hospitality

The history of southern hospitality is complex and not as warm as we typically know the concept to be. Origins of the idea are attributed to biblical notions of neighborly goodness or the parable of the Good Samaritan, with religious ideals becoming linked to good home practices. The phrase first began appearing in references to the planters’ communities in the south as an expression of the expected social practices of white slave owners. However, as it was almost entirely the work of Black slaves that enabled these antebellum societies to so lavishly welcome guests, the phrase is said to stem from the inhospitable and inhumane treatment of Black communities. Wealthy planters began using the term to defend their lifestyle and political system in the lead up to and during the American Civil War, hoping to build solidarity amongst themselves.


In time, the term became used to advertise areas in the south of the U.S. to attract African-American travelers. Being able to adapt and enrich the original concept of southern hospitality is a testament to the strength and resilience of Black women and men during that time.


What Does Southern Hospitality Mean?

Although its past is muddied by racial discrimination, the phrase today has many positive and varried meanings, which also differ among individuals, that can still be linked back to its biblical origins. The most common qualities of southern hospitality include politeness, charm, kindness, helpfulness, and charity. These qualities are seen as aligning with the idea of what it means to be a good host.


For us at Roundabout Atlanta, hosting an Atlanta history tour, providing car service at Atlanta airport, or any other service we offer requires each of these qualities. An additional quality is good home cooking, and although not an aspect of our products, something we firmly believe in. And because of that, we love helping guests find the best local restaurants, bars, and cafes because we know that a good meal is just as important as anything else.



Southern hospitality continues to be used as regularly today as it was in the past, although in different contexts. From Ludacris’ 2000 hit, Southern Hospitality featuring Pharrell Williams,  to the spread of southern cuisine cookbooks and restaurants around the world. Ultimately, in order to really experience southern hospitality, you need to visit the South! If you’re looking for a southern experience while exploring the city, check out our Atlanta tours, or if you’re just stopping by and looking for a car service in Atlanta, see our vehicle options and get in touch. In true southern tradition, we are always happy to help and host all visitors to our hometown. We hope to see you soon!

– your Roundabout Atlanta team

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