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Best Hotel: The Shepherd

Ashleigh Snyder
The Thomas Bar, located on the third floor of The Shepherd Hotel, offers world-class cocktails, a relaxing atmosphere and a piece of Clemson history. Pictured on the backs of the bar chairs are buttons from authentic 1895 military uniforms as an homage to Clemson’s history as a military school.

The Shepherd Hotel has once again taken this year’s crown for the best hotel in Clemson, earning back-to-back Best of Clemson honors despite opening only less than two years ago.

The Shepherd is a 67-room boutique hotel located in the center of downtown Clemson. Starting at $149 a night, guests can enjoy the charm and comfort of Clemson’s best hotel service, complete with elegant décor and modern amenities. Guests also receive access to a stunning view of the Clemson area from the roof of the building.

On the first floor sits Delish Sisters, an in-house restaurant that boasts a unique combination of culture and flavors. One of its most popular items, the breakfast “Sarmie,” contains scrambled eggs, bacon, cheddar, garlic aioli and an onion marmalade. Three stories above Delish Sisters is The Thomas Bar, which is open to the public.

A few years ago, Dabo Swinney introduced co-owner and general manager Rick Hayduk to Rich Davies — a Clemson alumnus and real estate developer — and the luxurious four-star Shepherd Hotel was born. But the business serves a greater purpose, Hayduk told The Tiger.

“Our real purpose, it’s not just to provide lodging and food to visitors to Clemson, but also to train and gainfully employ people with disabilities,” he said.

As a father of two kids with Down syndrome, Hayduk was inspired to work with the ClemsonLIFE program. As a result, The Shepherd Hotel has hired numerous employees who have a disability, with nearly 30% of the staff having one.

“People are the light of the world,” Hayduk remarked.

And his staff shows just how bright those lights can be.

Hayduk has seen the direct impact of his mission recently with ClemsonLIFE graduate Tanner Smith, who works at The Shepherd Hotel and was recently featured on Netflix’s “Love on the Spectrum” show.

“It’s heartwarming that someone with autism is featured and has become a celebrity, and we play a small role in that,” Hayduk said in response to the people who have been visiting The Shepherd to meet Tanner.

The hotel also showcases artwork from the disabled community; even the bathroom amenities, including soap and fragrances from Nest Fragrances, whose founder has a son with autism and is known for supporting the disabled community, pay tribute to individuals with disabilities. Hayduk and Davies’ uncanny attention to detail does not stop there, as the walls inside the elevator contain braille markings.

Meanwhile, the Thomas Bar pays homage to the Clemson family tree with decorations and chair buttons coming from an authentic military uniform from 1895 when Clemson was originally a small military school. The grand spiral staircase even intentionally faces the front entrance so guests “feel that they are welcome” and are invited to stop by the third-story bar, Hayduk said.

With exciting new changes like an updated menu coming in the next few months and The Shepherd’s “spring rooftop event series” debuting soon, Hayduk and The Shepherd Hotel are already in pursuit of next year’s best hotel award and a Best of Clemson three-peat.


Mon-Thu: 7 a.m.-11 p.m.

Fri-Sun: 7 a.m.-midnight


110 Sloan St.,

Clemson, SC 29631

Phone: (864) 635-0100

Instagram: @shepherdhotels

Facebook: Shepherd Hotels

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About the Contributors
Ethan Silipo, Senior Reporter
Ashleigh Snyder
Ashleigh Snyder, Photo Editor
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