N’awlins. NOLA. The Big Easy.
I just spent 4 incredible days in New Orleans, Louisiana and whatever you choose to call it…it is AMAZING.
I am excited to share my experiences as part of our TNL Travels series. I will be sharing my New Orleans experience in three posts, based on the hotel, entertainment, and of course the incredible Cajun food. I hope that when you read these posts you will feel like I gave you a snapshot of NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) , and gave you some ideas and suggestions that could be helpful if you have the opportunity to visit for yourself.
I travelled to New Orleans from Toronto with three friends. We were meeting my sister, brother-in-law and another four friends from Hamilton and Montreal. This meant that we were rolling ten deep on vacation, sure to be a good time.
My hotel experience on this trip was surely a hit. However, one member of our party was not as lucky. Although things ultimately worked out, Id like to share our NOLA hotel hits and misses in this post.
Six of our group stayed at the Inn on St. Peter, located in the French Quarter area of the city. My sister had nothing but fantastic things to say about this Inn after staying there last year.
Inn on St. Peter is an affordable option that is very centrally located. It is part of a chain called French Quarter Guest Houses, and these include the Inn on St. Ann, Inn on Ursulines and Lamothe House.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Inn on St. Peter was originally constructed in 1805 with its design influenced by the Spanish style of architecture during that period. Gorgeous private courtyards are nestled throughout the property and provide ambiance and charm.
We found it particularly interesting that the Inn seemed very traditional and plain from the outside, but was actually extremely modern and beautiful inside.
The staff were welcoming and friendly. Walking the few steps to my friend’s room one morning, two hotel staff members stopped to say hello and remark on what a beautiful morning it was. How lovely. People don’t really do that much in Toronto. I don’t know about you ,but I’m taken aback if someone even makes eye contact on our busy streets. My friends and I particularly adored the front desk receptionist that checked us in and out on our visit. She was exuberant and fun, I only wish that we had gotten her name!
The Inn on St. Peter’s location was wonderful, just a short walk to all French Quarter attractions. What I particularly appreciated, was the fact that although the inn was very close to Bourbon Street ( under 5 minute walk), it was far enough away to escape it’s crazy noise ( and stench). That’s something that we didn’t read in the travel guides about New Orleans…Bourbon Street smells like sewage. It is stronger at certain times of the day, but it is always there. For that reason alone, I would not want to stay in a hotel on Bourbon.
A nice feature of the Inn on St. Peter, is that it featured a number of beautiful, lush little private courtyards. Since we had temperatures above 30 degrees (locals called it a cold spell!) the courtyards were nice places to spend some time and enjoy a drink or two in the beautiful weather.
Our room was on the small side, more than enough space for us as we were mostly just sleeping there. The furniture was modern and sleek. A large television with digital cable featured 700 channels, not that we ever had time to watch it! A Tassimo coffee machine and bottled water were in the room when we checked in , but the water was never replenished. The washroom was clean and spacious, both water pressure and temperature were fine. Towels were plentiful and replaced daily.
There are lots of cockroaches on the street in New Orleans..big ones.
However, I am happy to report that there were none in our very clean hotel.
I was thoroughly impressed with Inn on St. Peter and Inn on Ursulines ( my sister and brother-in-law stayed here) , but not everyone in our group had such a stellar hotel experience. One of my friends had booked at the Empress Hotel and be warned, it wasn’t pretty. Stay far, far away from this place.
Here is what she had to say about Empress:
“The Empress Hotel on Ursulines in New Orleans was the most vile place that I have ever laid my eyes on. The bathroom ceiling was caving in and the floors and walls were falling apart. The bathtub looked as though it had stored dead bodies for over a century and was stained with a brownish colour and all of the faucets were rusting off. The mattress on the bed was stained and had water damage. The covers on the bed were filled with cigarette burns and must have been at least 40 years old from the wear. The woman at the front desk notified me that she had no other room because the owner had instructed her that those that were not for rent were not to be opened as, they were ‘under renovations’. She also insisted that she had no authority to give me a refund because none of the employees were allowed to view reservation information or make changes as the owner hides this information from them. When I showed her the room, she told me that she wouldn’t allow her dog to sleep there and that anytime they have a complaint, the owner ignores it. I was also told that she would lose her job because she talked to me about the place and the owner watches everyone on video from her home. This proved to be true when she called the owner to get a refund for me and was hung up on. The owner called back, not to address my predicament, but to yell at us for being in the lobby discussing her wretched hotel. She hung up on us again. I later witnessed a screaming match between a crack addict and the receptionist, as I had no choice but to camp out either in the lobby or outside by myself at 4 am. Due to the atrocity of the room, I opted for outside. I was on the phone with Expedia for three hours trying to get my money back. ”
Yikes! What a nightmare. Luckily, she was able to get out of there and into a wonderful room at the Inn on Ursulines after the first night.
So, bottom line…if you are looking for an economy option hotel in The French Quarter of New Orleans, the French Quarter Guest Houses chain is fantastic, I can particularly vouch for the Inn on St. Peter. No complaints! Do your research beforehand , hopefully this post will help ensure that people steer clear of the Empress.
New Orleans is an incredible city full of rich history and fun. There is an incredible time to be had there , so you don’t want to have your trip ruined because of poor accommodations.
Stay tuned for upcoming posts about the entertainment ( you haven’t partied until you party on Bourbon Street. ) and yummy food ( umm…BEIGNETS and OYSTERS galore!) in ‘Nawlins.
If you’ve stayed in New Orleans , please let me know about your hotel hits and misses below!