Mardi Gras is an exciting celebration, known around the world for its colourful parade floats and beads thrown into the crowd. This exciting event is a great time to experience the personality and culture of vibrant New Orleans, held every February. The colourful masques, costumes and parade floats are only one of the reasons to visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras. It’s a once in a lifetime trip, and to make it happen for 2017, you need to start planning now!
Imagine your happy place. If you need one, check out the lounge at Soniat House New Orleans, a quaint and luxurious 30-suite hotel in the French Quarter of New Orleans frequented by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. (And it’s not just about the honour bar with great wine). I found myself lolling over coffee table books about the great city’s architecture, and realized the room was more relaxing than most spas. The art, many pieces loaned by the New Orleans Museum of Art is incredible, and the antique furniture throughout the townhouse hotel is exquisite. The carriageway entrance, with it’s flickering lanterns and stone walls feels like you are entering one of America’s secret treasures. Perhaps you will meet a free mason, or maybe the ghost of a US President. We did run into Nicolas Cage on the street, but he wasn’t searching for a National Treasure.
Rooms are all unique, and our suite was breathtaking. A hallway with a crystal chandelier, king canopy bed draped in lace, and.. oooh.. that ruby red silk sofa. Sitting on it was a sacred experience. The traditional windows slid up, revealing a balcony graced with wicker that overlooked Chartres Street. Gracious sliding doors separated the bedroom from the sitting room, and if the city of New Orleans hadn’t been so fabulous, I would have stayed in the room all day. I did do a mini-excursion to the antique shops nearby and found incredible mardi gras costumes (including a 20 foot silk cape handpainted with Jack and the Beanstock motifs). Of course I bought it. Did you really wonder? The room was the perfect setting to model my finds for my husband.
The courtyard provided a breakfast oasis under banana trees and sugar cane. Classical music is piped throughout, and the staff ensure that candles are lit on each table at dusk.
One of the highlights of our stay was Jessie – a 71 year-old porter, with a huge smile and kind eyes. He has worked there since he was 19, and makes the biscuits every morning. (The recipe is secret but we’ve been trying hard to replicate it). Breakfast is served in your room or the courtyard on a silver tray and the preserves are homemade.
Families traveling should request the carriage house. With it’s private courtyard, kitchen and exclusivity it would be perfect for the little ones who are learning about the graciousness of the south. Take them to City Park and the Louisiana Children’s Museum and they’ll sleep like kings – as will you in the softest linens you’ve ever felt.
One evening before our short trek to swing dancing and original jazz on Frenchmen Street, we spoke to a few staff members about their beloved city, and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Their southern manners combined with their passion for all affected people held us in a trance. We left the hotel, passing horse-drawn carriages and lanterns at each door thinking that there was nowhere more authentic and heartfelt than New Orleans. And if you are lucky enough to experience the warmth of Soniat House, you will be touched by the enchantment the minute you creak open the heavy doors and step into the carriageway.
1133 Chartres St.
New Orleans, LA
From time to time we visit a very special city, where people, food, attractions, accommodations and the arts are all so exceptional that the place has its own soul. (We’ve been trying to find a North American locale to match Paris for a while.) Success! It is without a doubt, New Orleans. When I travel I take notes. How’s this for an interesting list.. Cuisine – turtle soup, jazz, horses and buggies, gracious southern manners, gas lanterns outside every building, mardi gras beads laying in the streets, voodoo, fortune tellers and cheap fedoras.