Come on. As if I wasn’t in love with New Orleans enough. Now I’ve stayed at the Ritz and there is no possible way that I can be away from this enchanted city for more than a few months. Weeks. Hmm. Loving you, Ritz Carlton. And New Orleans. Where shall I begin? The doorman who read my Mom 2.0 conference nametag and had it memorized for the rest of the trip? The front desk staff (who were shocked that I didn’t do the ‘American thing’ and demand compensation because I tripped on the carpet in my room) and the housekeeper who organized my makeup by colour. THANK YOU. SO MUCH. (And for not knocking on my door at 8am like the other places I stayed in NOLA.) Yeah. The Ritz wins.
But really? Even if I weren’t staying at the hotel, I would be at the bar every night. It’s kind of like a wedding. You know – vibe, stylish dress, where you WANT to be. The courtyard is romantic and packed all the time (even at lunch. Especially when there’s an old-fashioned New Orleans Crawfish Boil). The bar though. OOOh. The bar. The Davenport Lounge (named after Jeremy Davenport, the enchanting “top 10 bachelors in the USA” trumpet player who lent his name to the space) is rife with swing dancers, stunning brides and chic patrons. But I actually didn’t pay much attention to the clientele. Even though I was there EVERY night. Because the jazz was So good. Davenport was suave and super-talented. And the band? Wow. I had the good fortune to befriend saxophonist Aaron Fletcher. He took my husband and I to a couple of authentic NOLA restaurants and shared incrediblr stories. Not only supremely talented (check his own show Sundays at Sweet Lorraines), but a down-to-earth, passionate man who loves the history of jazz almost as much as he loves his own city.
Right. Back to the Ritz. I had a chance on an earlier visit to taste the cuisine at M Bistro. Chef Matt Murphy (a father of 5) brilliantly combines creole flavours with the best ingredients and perfect technique. (Dear Matt – would you like to adopt me as a sixth?) The Bistro was authentic, innovative and perfect in every way. True New Orleans flavours and Matt’s penchant for ‘meet the farmers’ ingredients were clearly defined in the taste of the food. (Travel and Leisure ranked the Bistro one of the Top 10 Farm-to-Table Hotel Restaruants in America, January 2011). I should just live there.
The Spa? Unlike the Guerlian spa at the Roosevelt across the street, the Ritz had a more feminine, nurturing feel. The apothecary bar was super neat – you could choose ingredients for your own scrub. Staff maneuvered you through the space in a gentle, seamless way, and the fountain at the entrance alluded to the relaxation you’d soon experience. You also had the opportunity to shop for unbelievable stuff when you leave. But why would you ever want to?
What do I miss? Coffee in the lobby. The pillows. The ‘undefined’ customer assistants who seemed to be everywhere, anticipating my every whim. The amazing outfits you saw at the bar. The creole perfected my Matt. Free wireless. And the fresh flower arrangements EVERYWHERE that were nicer than those at my wedding. But I’m not bitter. I’m now planning a 10 year renewal of vows. (Which will be held at the Ritz Carlton New Orleans.)
921 Canal Street
– Jill Amery is a sucker for beauty, gracious southern manners, soft sheets, world-class jazz, and the perfect cuisine. But she’s not picky.