Sunday, July 27, 2014

You never know what you'll see in New Orleans

A live oak tree on Esplanade Avenue
One of your hosts is a licensed tour guide, but he doesn't like to brag about it.  He isn't shy about mentioning it, either.  It just is what it is.  

History isn't necessarily our schtick at La Belle Esplanade.  One of us has a master's degree in something that involves a lot of history.  The other one of us is an autodidact.  We'll let you guess which is which.   We know our history, we live in a historic neighborhood, in a house built in 1883, and we're licensed.  Our inn is full of antiques, but it isn't stuffy or like going to grandma's house.  We don't run a twee place.  Kitschy ticky-tacky isn't exactly our game, either.  There is a stuffed bear, left behind by a guest, but we use it as a chew toy for our pet alligator.  [Full disclosure: There is no pet alligator.]

A lot of history happened in our neighborhood, pretty much as it does everywhere else, but there aren't many signs or plaques to describe it.  We have a picture over the mantle in the lobby sitting room:  
Esplanade Avenue in days of old
It's a picture of a mule-drawn milk cart in our street, diagonally across the street from us.  Most people don't realize it, and not just because the world isn't black and white anymore.
The downtown side of the 2100 block of Esplanade Avenue
Though Mr. Okra drives by every few days, we've never seen a milk cart pulled by a mule.  That said, I was taking a nap this afternoon when I was awakened by the sound of a horse in front of our house.  I went outside.  A jockey was riding his horse up Esplanade Avenue.  You never know what you'll see here.

You'd think the Queen Anne mansion on the North Miro corner has turned into an overgrown lot.  It's a trick of the trees.  When you get close,  you can see that the house is still there.  It's been for sale for the longest time, but the sign isn't up right now.  I don't know if it was sold.
House on the corner of North Miro Street and Esplanade Avenue
About a hundred years ago, there weren't many trees in the neighborhood.  It's different now.  It's very shady on Esplanade Avenue.  There's even a tree in a tree:
Corner of Columbus and North Miro Streets
It's very picturesque.  It's historic and charming, but it's more than that.  It's New Orleans.  If you don't know what that means, you can.  We know a very nice bed and breakfast in the middle of Esplanade Avenue.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Les Saintes Suite (Update)

La Belle Esplanade, New Orleans
That's a picture from this past winter.  That's probably when I started this project of rewriting our suites' descriptions to match the changes we've made since we opened.  I've put buttons for each suite at the top of the blog, in case you want to read them all.  I'm not one to procrastinate, but it's time to put this chore behind me.  Today, I'm going to tell you what Les Saintes Suite is like.
Bedroom from the balcony, Les Saintes Suite
Nothing much has changed.  Some things have, of course, but not too much.  It's always been nice in there.   The orange walls aren't as acidic as this photo will lead you to believe, but it's still pretty potent.  If you ask your humble narrator, he'll tell you this suite is one of his favorites.  Tammy the housekeeper says that, too.

Tammie the Housekeeper
It's charming when a B&B has themed suites.  Les Saintes Suite sounds much better than Room 3C.  You think it's about the New Orleans Saints, right?  The football team?  It's not.  It has plaster statues of saints on the mantles and original artwork by a local artist that incorporates devotional medals.  There is a laminated front page of the Times-Picayune from when the Saints won the Superbowl.  

The bed is an antique plantation-size bed.  Remember what that means?  It's innkeeper speak for a full bed.  It's made to sleep two people, but it's a bit smaller than a queen.  We don't have any king-sized beds and we don't think we need them.  When you have beautiful antique beds like this, nobody minds.
Sitting room view of the bedroom, Les Saintes Suite
Les Saintes is made up of two large rooms on the second floor of the front of the house.  There is a private bath with a claw foot tub. The tub is equipped with a shower head for people who don't like to take baths.  Most people take showers, at least when they stay with us.  The sink is in the bedroom.  I'm not going to tell you that's the Creole way of doing things, but I will say it's more European that way.  

There is a red velveteen upholstered chair in the bedroom and another in the sitting room.  There's also an antique couch in the sitting room.  There are antiques in each room, but the most interesting is the antique radio in the bedroom that still works.  It works better than any new radio and it's all analog and vacuum tubes.  It's a Philco.

There's a small refrigerator stocked with beer, wine, juice, and whatnot.  In summer there's on of Loretta's pralines in there.  In winter, too.  There's a coffee maker and a teakettle.  In case you're wondering if there's a hair dryer, there's a hair dryer.  There's also an ironing board with an iron.  There are other things too.  If you think you might need something extra, please let us know, preferably via email.  We'll be happy to discuss it.
View from the front door, Les Saintes Suite
The walls in the sitting room is more yellow orange, while the walls in the bed room are more red orange.  The ceiling in each is lime green.  

There's a private balcony that has a panoramic view of Esplanade Avenue through the hundred-year-old live oak trees outside of our house.  The trees belong to the city.  They are protected landmarks in the Treme/Lafitte neighborhood and in the Esplanade Ridge Historic District.  I'm afraid that's why we'll never have another street car line on Esplanade Avenue.  The trees make the street too beautiful so nobody wants to cut them down to make way for a street car line.   Some people say just as well; streetcars are noisy.

We live in a city on a main street, but ours is a quiet neighborhood.
Riverside wall of the sitting room,  Les Saintes Suite
Did I mention there's a stuffed marlin?

Though I didn't take a picture of it, there is also a large desk and writing bench in this room.  The set up is a reproduction of my own private desk that most guests don't see.  It's nothing like Willie Wonka.  Instead, it's a desk that allows for plenty of spreading out if you want to check email, research restaurants on Yelp before asking us what we think, lay out notebooks and textbooks while writing a sermon, a memoir, a thesis, or just tomorrow's itinerary.  It's big enough for a map.  Everyone who stays in this suite comments on how great a desk it is.  I can't tell you where I got it because a friend made me promise I wouldn't.

I didn't take a picture of Les Saintes Suite's balcony, either.  I do have a picture of the staircase that leads up Les Saintes and to Le Pelican Suites:
Steep staircase, La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast
Both of the inn's staircases look alike except that one of them has a Louisiana flag hanging next to it.  Some people look at it and say, "Pelican for Pelican."  That's not the reason we put it there, though.  The stairs also go to Les Saintes, and there's nothing pelican-y in the front of the house.

Tammy the Housekeeper says she's worked at a lot of places before she chose to help us out.  "I've never been in a place as nice as this," Tammie the Housekeeper told me.  "Every one of the suites is like a work of art.  Nobody has a favorite because every one of our suites is great."  I looked to Frau Schmitt and she nodded in agreement to confirm that Tammie the Housekeeper was being sincere.  She's usually right about these things.

Please see our website: labelleesplanade.com to learn more about our inn, our policies (the link to which is at the bottom of every one of our website's page), and to make a reservation.  The online calendar we maintain on our website reflects all our suites available in real time.  Go straight to the source.  We're about a 15 minute walk from the French Quarter.  Our street is only the 2nd-most beautiful street in New Orleans, the most beautiful being St. Charles Ave.  What about Bourbon Street?  It depends on what end you want to be on.

We look forward to meeting you.  I took all the pictures with my phone.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Clio, Goddess of Peace, Genius of History

Statue of Clio in September
The last time I wrote an update of our description of our Clio Suite, the only pictures I had of the new bed were from when the bed wasn't even all put together yet.  The bed has been complete for awhile now, so I decided to provide an update of the bed pictures.  I know it's not that exciting, but it needs to be done.  

We put the canopy posts up.  Here's one view from the bathroom.  I may as well show it here.  If you reserve this suite, you're going to see it all for yourself.
Bed in Clio Suite, La Belle Esplanade, New Orleans, LA
You probably don't care about our overhead expenses, but this bed cost a lot of money.  It's a queen.  I know it's expensive because Frau Schmitt and I were balancing the books the other day and I asked what this big expense was.  She showed me the receipt and I stopped squawking.  Frau Schmitt said, "It's for the guests."  I couldn't argue with that.  She's usually right about these things.  If it's for the guests, every expense if justified.
The bed in Clio Suite from the other side, in gauzy light
There are silk flowers and Christmas lights strung over the headboard.  I know.  It makes you think of a honeymoon suite in the Poconos, but it's not.  It's such a beautiful suite.  There's no ticky-tacky.  We're adding new original artwork in this suite.  The whole inn is a work in progress.  If you come back next year, you won't want things to be the same.  You'll want them to be better.   Us, too.

Let's have one more parting shot, this time of the bed from the sitting room:
You get the idea
Twelve and a half foot ceilings make all the difference.  That, and the rooms that are bigger than the average apartment in other world-class cities.  You can do cartwheels in here if you choose to. 

I took these pictures with my phone in the morning, when the sun was coming through the front windows, through the trees.  That's why the walls look more pink this time.  They're really more plummy. 

We look forward to meeting you.

The ceilings are still purple.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

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