Saturday, September 20, 2014

New Orleans Hotel vs. New Orleans B&B (Part III)

World's Largest Cuckoo Clock
I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking how long can he drag out this "New Orleans Hotel vs. New Orleans B&B" series?  Probably to a part IV.  Sometimes, it's a long slog to cover all the bases, but it's worth it when you finally reach home.

I know what else you're thinking.  You're thinking why is he using the same pictures from last post?  What do these pictures have to do with anything, anyway?  I could give you the easy answer, tell you I'm lazy, but that isn't it.  I have my reasons.  I'm an artiste.  It doesn't have to make sense.
Does voodoo work?
So, if this your first time reading our blog and you don't know what's going on, here's the skinny: a recent guest from Iowa, of all places, sent me a comparison of what it was like to stay at La Belle Esplanade B&B and what it was like to stay at the Hyatt down in the Central Business District.  She kindly gave her permission to reprint it here.  I'm doing it in installments.  Why installments?  I'm a little light on material at the moment---plus, I'm an artiste.  Timing is everything.
Voodoo works
Hotel:  Free water if you turned on the tap in the bathroom.  Everything else cost money.  They nickel-and-dimed us after we checked in.

B&B:  A small refrigerator stocked with a complementary selection of local beer, some wine, some juice, a bottle of New Orleans own sweet Big Shot soda, a carafe of filtered water, and some whatnot like a praline. 

Hotel:  A large screen TV.

B&B:  A small TV with basic cable.  We never turned it on.  In New Orleans, life is too interesting for TV.

Hotel:  Industrial carpet glued to a cement floor.

B&B:  Refinished original hardwood floors worn smoothly dimpled by uncountable tiptoed footsteps since 1883.  No splinters, either.

Hotel:  Standard furniture designed to pack tightly into a Chinese shipping container.  Furniture store art.

B&B:  Lovely antiques mixed with some comfortable modern pieces.  It wasn't grandma's house, but it wasn't pre-fabricated, either.  Historical prints mixed with original oil paintings by a local artist we got to meet.

Hotel:  No surprises.

B&B:  One delightful discovery after another.  Personality.
Joy Theater, Canal Street, New Orleans
I'll be honest with you, the inside of the Saenger Theater on Canal Street is breathtaking.  The sign outside is a showstopper, too, but I still prefer the Joy Theater.  When those three letters light up over the marquee, I always think, "This is New Orleans."  I even think this during broad daylight.  For me, the Joy marquee sums up the city.

I still prefer the inside of the Saenger, and Frau Schmitt agrees with me.  She is usually right about these things.  They did a bang-up job in there.  If you ever have a chance just to go into the lobby, you should.  The Joy, not so much.

So, there is still one thing left to compare between staying at a New Orleans hotel and staying in a New Orleans B&B (our much anticipated conclusion).  This list doesn't apply to all B&Bs, of course, only the one in which our far-flung correspondent spent her too-short time in this magical city we call home.  To learn what that is, tune back in later this week.

Until then...
A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

New Orleans Hotel vs. New Orleans B&B (Part II)

A sign in the Weisbaden, Germany, City Hall
Neither Frau Schmitt nor myself are big believers in voodoo, but we know a lot about it.  You can't not know about voodoo if you live in New Orleans.  I don't want to lead you to believe that occult arts are everywhere or that voodoo queens are still around for consultation---they are, especially in Jackson Square.  We just don't go there often.  I'll admit, neither one of us has had our palms read.  

Here's what I know:  There is magic in New Orleans.

There is magic whether you stay in one of the chain hotels in the Central Business District, what we call the CBD down here, and there is magic if you stay in an eccentric and colorful New Orleans B&B.  Is it there's more magic in a B&B?  Some people don't believe in it, but we know one person who wrote a comparison between the features she found in a hotel she stayed in after staying at La Belle Esplanade:
World's largest cuckoo clock, Weisbaden, Germany
Hotel:  View of a busy street from the window.  Cars stuck in traffic.

B&B:  View of lush gardens from a private balcony facing the back.  A living neighborhood made up of old small homes lit every morning by a citrus sunrise glow.  

Hotel:  Standard fiberglass tub and shower.

B&B:  Antique cast iron claw foot tub equipped with a shower head.  Inviting for a long relaxing soak; efficient for a quick rinse, when desired.  

Hotel:  Credit card key.

B&B:  A house key.  It was our home for the duration of our stay, after all.

Hotel:  A dark room with neutral walls and anonymous furniture store artwork presumably purchased by the square foot.

B&B:  The glow of soft lights welcoming us at night, up the stairs to a room painted different colors, with a sky blue ceiling, and original artwork, prints of historical maps, and an antique mirror, and ceiling fans.  
A live oak in City Park, New Orleans
A lot of people come to New Orleans, and, if they only visit the places listed in guide books, they'll see a part of New Orleans, but they won't get a real grasp of everything this great city contains.  People live out rewarding lives in New Orleans.  There is magic here, and it isn't just the kind magic that can be packaged and sold. 

City Park is almost twice the size of Central Park in New York.  You don't need to walk all over it to know that City Park is special. One place you probably won't walk if you're here for a short visit is the abandoned golf course in the middle of the park.  That's where the picture above was taken.

There are more secrets than anyone can possibly discover, even on the longest weekend.  Those are for the people who live here to know.  They know them, and they share them.  Some of them work in hotels, of course, but they don't have the time to share.  Corporate frowns on it, anyway.  The policy of a big chain hotel is, "get 'em in, get 'em out, keep 'em quiet."  

We do like our guests to be courteous to the other guests, but we also encourage everyone to explore, to ask questions, to go where few other tourists go.  That's where you'll find the magic that makes New Orleans great.  Everything else is the gravy that spills over the side of the plate.

Part III follows in a few days.  Until then...
A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

We look forward to meeting you and sharing what we can about this magical city we call home.

Friday, September 12, 2014

New Orleans Hotel vs. New Orleans B&B (Part I)

This is a pelican
It might surprise some people, but we sometimes get email about the contents of this blog.  Thanks for stopping by.  We sometimes get postcards in the regular mail, too.  That's always nice.  Who doesn't like mail, digital or pen-to-paper?

Remember last entry when I said I would be sharing some observations from a far-flung correspondent about the differences between a blocks-long and blocks-wide and several-floors-tall chain hotel in the New Orleans Central Business Distract and an all-too-humble picturesque boutique New Orleans B&B located on Esplanade Avenue?  Well, the time has come to share a little of that.  Here we go...
No two pelicans are exactly alike
Hotel: Elevator to the 6th Floor.

B&B: A well worn, winding staircase to the second story that brings back wonderful memories of homes of childhood friends, current friends, a favorite uncle and aunt.

Hotel:  No breakfast.

B&B:  New foods from around the neighborhood that awaken the palate and prompt the salivary glands to anticipate what else a great culinary city has to offer.  Pleasant conversations that lead to discovery and common understanding between people of diverse backgrounds who meet, if only for a few days, in a place where good memories are made.  Cloth napkins.

Hotel:  King bed.  I couldn't find my husband in the middle of the night.

B&B:  A beautiful antique canopied bed where we slept close and contented in each other's company, with the kind of easy familiarity that it takes years to acquire.  We cuddled.  We snuggled.  He snored.  I smiled. 
New Orleans is for lovers
Some people say Virginia is for lovers.  Frau Schmitt is usually right about these things, but I've never heard her say that about Virginia.  She hasn't been.  She's been to New Orleans, though.  She lives here... with me.  We love it here.  You will probably love it here, too.  

There a few more comparisons to go through and your humble narrator is a tad short of material this month.  We'll be stretching this theme over a couple of entries.  It seems to have brought out the poet in our far-flung correspondent, at least when she's talking about the New Orleans B&B experience.  This is Part I.  Stay tuned.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.
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