You guys have met Nicole before, but wanted to give you a little background. She and I met back at our old pr haunts of PMK, climbing the corporate ladder or at least…hanging on for dear life. Nicole went to Duke and though I can’t say I’m a Blue Devils fan (Sorry Nic), she lived in NC for 4 years, which has to count for something. She now spends her nights on red carpets and days behind a desk at NBC Universal, making sure the world knows what films are hitting the big screen.
On a recent trip to visit one of my best girlfriends in Tampa, Florida, I decided to kick off my weekend with a 12-hour layover in New Orleans. Not knowing where to stay, a search on my company’s travel site revealed International House Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel located in NOLA’s Central Business District. For those of you not traveling solo, or craving a more adventurous (perhaps debaucherous) nightlife, the French Quarter is a short walk from the hotel.
Offering more character than a typical chain hotel, I was immediately enchanted (and slightly relieved) with the low lighting and fresh-scented candles that were carefully placed in the lobby, and the beautiful tile mosaic in the elevators. My first thought was that the hotel reminded me of Westwood’s W Hotel, (but not as loud!). My room was a good size for the amazing rate I was able to snag, and I loved the simple yet comfy décor. The plush bed pillows were a major plus! The small snack menu featured juices and nuts from Whole Foods, which were available for pick-up in the lobby. The hotel doesn’t have room service, but why eat at your hotel when you’re visiting a city with some of the best food in the country?
I’d arrived late afternoon on a Thursday and had a 6:00AM flight the next day, so I opted out of a trip down to Bourbon Street (this 32-year-old can’t pull all-nighters anymore!). Instead, a friend and I grabbed a drink at the hotel’s Loa Bar before walking a few short blocks to dinner.
Connected to International House’s lobby, Loa Bar is strewn with comfy, yet upscale furniture and a bar covered with various tchotchkes and fresh herbs, giving the décor an antique market vibe. The cocktail menu’s first three pages list Loa’s signature drinks. After having briefly explored the amazing architecture of the buildings neighboring the hotel in muggy, 90-degree heat, I opted for the Moscato and Aperol signature drink…what I dubbed an “Adult Slushy.” The cocktail was poured over citrus slices, muddled tarragon and crushed ice. If you can believe it, this was the “small” size and only cost $9.00! Despite a brain freeze, it was the perfect beat-the-heat, pre-dinner drink.
For dinner, we decided on Bon Ton Café, a local dining experience with tight seats and tables bustling with conversation and a great seafood selection. My friend, who is a local, told me to “Go big, or go home,” and said that if I really wanted a Cajun food experience, I had to try to crawfish étouffée and the bread pudding with whiskey sauce. I tried both, and after a few glasses of wine and too much warm, delicious, still-dreaming-about-it bread pudding, I was grateful for the sobering walk back to my hotel.
International Hotel House. 221 Camp Street. New Orleans, LA. 70130. 504-553-9550