I had hoped to get to New Orleans around dinnertime, but due to a 4 hour flight delay it was almost midnight before I arrived. The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans is located in a great spot. It’s right on Canal Street on the edge of the French Quarter, just a block from all the action on Bourbon street yet far enough away where you can sip a mint julep in the hotel’s quiet courtyard and watch the gas-lit lanterns flicker.
A doorman welcomed me as I made the transition from the muggy night air to the coolness of the hotel, which occupies the historic Maison Blanche building from 1908.
The check-in line was nonexistent, and I received keys for a Club King room. Even though a Deluxe King room had been booked, my husband had contacted the hotel in advance to let them know we were celebrating a special occasion and they gave us a complimentary upgrade to the Club Level! When some people think “Ritz-Carlton” they automatically assume it is terribly expensive. It can be, but isn’t always. That’s like saying Southwest Airlines is cheap. Just because they’ve had $39 one-way deals, Southwest often comes out to be just as expensive if not more than their competitors for many routes. Pricing for the Ritz is usually on par with other quality hotels in the area and I usually find that service is top-notch and rooms synonymous with luxury. I encourage readers to do a price check sometime, if they haven’t stayed at one before.
In this case, the rate was under $200 (which is still available under the “Paris without the Jetlag” promotion where you also get two free cocktails and discounted valet parking of $29 which is reasonable considering valet is usually $45). After receiving keys I was given information about the Club Lounge and the host carefully explained how to get there. From the reception desk I’d take the elevators to the right, get off on the 4th floor, make a left, then a right, then go through a blue door to the Club Lounge.
It wasn’t too difficult to find, and since it was late I just grabbed a bottle of water and took a quick look before getting back in the elevator to go up to the 8th floor where our room was located. It was nice that there were chocolate covered pretzels, granola bars and chips available 24 hours in case of a snack attack.
Just inside the door there was an amenity of French macarons (which I adore) and some cookies with an orchid added as a flourish. There was also a stack of bathroom towels, and the envelope was addressed to a different guest. I called out a few times to make sure Mr. M wasn’t in the room, and then dialed the front desk to ask if I was in the right room. He assured me I was, and said I could keep the amenity as a Platinum and to just slide the letter under the door and an employee would be by shortly to retrieve it.
I took a look at the map on the back of the door, and used the half-sized mini-fridge to put my bottled water in that I’d taken from the Club Lounge.
The bathroom had a huge tub, and some large romantic candles were set up in the corner. The sink had plenty of counter space, and a lighted magnifying mirror swung out from the wall. The shower had Asprey amenities all lined up in a row, and there were even more bath towels.
The bedroom was beautifully decked out in shimmery silk curtains and smooth dark hardwoods, while a fan spun lazily overhead.
The closet offered an umbrella; helpful in a city prone to sudden rainstorms.
Bookshelves lined one wall, and as a nod to the mystical nature of Nawlins titles like “Spooky South” and “The Black Hand” were available for a late night read while tucked under the covers. Good thing there was a fireplace in the room to ward off any supernatural chills.
Like something out of a fairy tale, the bed featured luxuriously soft sheets like those at the Park-Hyatt Milan and a blue-tinged light on the pillows emanated from somewhere up high inside the fringed canopy.
I moved over to the bed to take a closer look. They were reading lights that could be individually controlled by a simple switch on each side of the bed.
An outlet was spotted just behind the desk and I set up the area as the electronics charging spot and then climbed into bed.
The room was dark and cool in the morning, which belied the 97 degree temperature outside. I headed to the Club Lounge on the 4th floor for some breakfast before going out.
Full of light-catching chandeliers and ample seating the lounge oozed with Southern charm. “Would you like a mimosa, Miss?” asked a lounge attendant brightly in a slight drawl.
There were pastries, eggs, potatoes, bacon, juices, coffee, etc. Nothing stood out to me foodwise but the surroundings sure were grand. There was also a concierge that was very helpful when I was planning my daily excursions. She called companies, quoted pricing, and snagged a reservation for a popular Sunday jazz brunch.
Once my plate was full, I had my choice of seating. The Club Lounge was large with two entrances and 4 rooms, including a Library. The strains of light jazz gave it a relaxed feel and because the space was so big even if the room got busy it didn’t feel rushed or too noisy.
After breakfast I took the elevator straight down to the first floor. A bucket filled with ice and bottled water had thoughtfully been placed on a small table as respite for guests coming in from the torturous heat outside. Exiting the building I saw the entrance to the Courtyard by Marriott’s driveway, and it took me a minutes to get my bearings and figure out I was now on a side street.
After enjoying some time in the richly cultured city I returned to the hotel for a bit before the evening. This time I entered through the set of double doors to the right of the main entrance. There is a lot of construction going on right now around Canal Street, and reportedly workers are on the job round the clock until it is all finished in about 30 days. In the meantime though, traffic is quite slow and some sidewalks are blocked off or difficult to access.
Once inside the oasis of the hotel, I stopped by the Club Lounge again. Each day there was a printed menu presented near the food so you could read about the offerings, and the afternoon and evening spread had just the right mix of delicious foods.
When I got back to my room it had been cleaned by housekeeping, and since I’d arrived after turndown the night prior I could now see the room all made up. Several decorative pillows had been piled on a nearby armchair so I’d missed seeing it properly the night before.
The view from the windows stretched all the way from the tall buildings nearby to St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square. One afternoon the humid sunny day turned overcast with a sudden downpour and I found the armchair to be a good place to watching the rainstorm.
Evenings had a separate spread of goodies in the Club Lounge, and if you couldn’t make it to touristy Cafe Du Monde for Beignets the lounge had them too. What’s a Beignet? A deliciously hot, powder-covered deep-fried sweetened dough square.
I didn’t know what to expect with this hotel, and came out of the weekend loving my stay.
One thing I didn’t care for was the location of the room. It was at the end of a hall which was great, but there seemed to be a staff entry just two doors down so I could hear a door slamming closed often. The doors also have a wide gap underneath them which is difficult to modify but it let light and noise in. You could hear when someone was taking a bath or shower in the upstairs room, and though I didn’t hear talking in the room next door I could hear vacuuming clearly. There was only one robe in the room even though there were two of us. Yes, I could have called to request one but there should have been two to start with. The shower water pressure fluctuated, as did the temperature. Also, in many Ritz-Carlton Club Lounges the breakfast features a lot of local items. To me the buffet had pretty standard items but nothing that made it stand out.
On the positive side, every staff member I encountered had much more than just a perfunctory greeting, from housekeeping to front desk to Club Lounge staff and Concierge. It must have been good ol’ Southern hospitality, and each one was genuinely friendly and helpful. There was also attention to detail everywhere I looked, and wifi was fast and great. I spent the good part of one of the afternoons in the room, but when I left for barely an hour in the evening I was pleased to find that when I returned I found that housekeeping had slipped in and taken care of things. From the lovely room to the location of the hotel to the customer service, it was almost a perfect stay. I would return in a flash.
Tier 3 property, requiring 50,000 points for a free night.