Creole Plantation B&B
The day after Mardi Gras, Don and I continued our Louisiana celebration!
After a few days of parades in New Orleans, we found ourselves relaxing in a totally different Louisiana setting. Our B&B in Lafayette, was a peaceful oasis, in the heart of Cajun Country.
Home from 1820
We arrived late afternoon and found the 200 year old home, tucked into the Sterling Grove Historic District. The peaceful house and grounds, sat just one half mile from downtown.
I crossed fingers, as we pulled into a gravel lot. It looked awfully empty and quiet and I hoped there hadn't been a glitch with reservations.
200 Years of Stories
Don and I have never spent a night in a 200-year-old plantation. I was happy about having another first for the Notable Night list. But I felt a tiny bit anxious, as I allowed myself to wonder about some of the history and stories.
I knew the Moutons built the home in the early 1800's, but who were the people who labored to create this home? Who were the women who cleaned and cooked... the men who worked in the sugar plantations? As we approached the side of the house, I realized we probably would never know those stories.
Finding the Door
We parked and headed towards the walkway. I spotted moss growing on the roof of the carriage house. The grand oaks seemed to dwarf the house and other buildings.
We headed past the carriage house and followed the covered walkway.
The weather was a little chilly, but the brick patio with fireplace, looked inviting. There was a chiminea, loaded with wood and ready to be lit.
We headed towards the red-brown door in the rear of the old house. There was a sign saying "Check-in at 4". My watch said 4:01. Yay!
Our host Eric, met us at the door. He didn't have an Acadian accent like Charles Mouton, who built the house. But Eric had a wonderful French Canadian accent. He was from Quebec.
We entered the bright breakfast room, which was actually an addition. But it could have been added 100 years ago. I'm not sure.
I loved the feel of the area between the breakfast room and kitchen. There was a mysterious curving stairway, beside the white brick wall. I really loved the old pie safe, standing nearby. The gigantic bottle of Tabasco on top, reminded me that we were in Louisiana.
Erik checked us in and gave us a key. The key wasn't for our guest room, since there was no lock on that door. The key was for the exterior kitchen door, if we came in late.
Through the House
Eric led us through the downstairs, towards the front of the house.
The breakfast room opened into another eating area. Then we passed through an interesting, wide door.
That door led us into the parlor. Another set of blue doors took us to the front porch and garden.
We headed up a narrow set of stairs, to the second floor. The wooden steps were comically warped and worn. They didn't look a bit like the grand staircases from movies like Gone With the Wind, and I liked that.
The second floor had a set of doors leading to the balcony and another set of stairs heading to the third floor.
The second staircase looked like it had been added in later years. We took a peek upstairs at the cozy rooms, with slanted ceilings. Who once slept there?
The Voorhies Suite
Our room was one of two second floor guest rooms, on the front of the house. I believe our suite was named for the previous owners, a few years back. Mr. Voorhies was a descendant of the Mouton family.
I loved our tall skinny doors, even if there was no lock and we had to trust our fellow guests. The blue paint was soothing.
Chandelier and Fireplace
I haven't a clue who slept in our cozy rooms, 2 centuries ago. I loved imagining it.
Our front room had the fireplace, chandelier and balcony door. The middle room had a sweet four poster and closet, with coffee maker and fridge. The bathroom in the back had plumbing. Yay for that! Who knows when that was added.
Mr. & Mrs. Mouton
I liked imagining Charles Mouton and his new bride, enjoying this fireplace during the cold winter months.
For most of the year, I'm sure all the windows were open and the balcony got lots of use.
There was lots of sunshine coming through our 5 windows.
But the balcony was a little chilly, with wind and temps in the low 50s.
We had the whole balcony to ourselves, since no one had booked the other room. We should have taken a quilt from the rack in our room and enjoyed the view.
But we did take in the garden view for a bit. The trees were just beginning to flower and I spotted daffodils and some blooming azaleas in the yard.
We took a walk around the property and tried to imagine what it was like when Charles first built the house. It was a nice, reasonable size. I like to think that the Moutons weren't pretentious.
Trees and Land
The home was built on property, that had been part a 300-acre plantation, owned by Charles' father.
I wondered about the age of the grand live oaks. Were they there, 200 years ago?
When Eric checked us in, he let us know there was a social hour around 4:30. It had been so quiet at that time, we wondered what a social hour would be like, with the two of us and Eric. But, I was game. We could ask some questions about the house. Learn about the Moutons...
We headed down at 4:30 and Eric invited us to sit at the large wooden table. He put out some crackers and pate and asked if we'd like wine or the house special. We of course went for Mint Juleps. We sat at the table near a festive display of flowers and Mardi Gras beads.
When Eric went off to prepare our drinks, we introduced ourselves to Bobby, who sat at the end of the table.
Bobby apologized for his raspy voice. It was of course the day after Mardi Gras and he had spent the last few days performing and celebrating. He sang some Cajun tunes while he stomped and fiddled. And he shared stories with about growing up in Lafayette.
Before long, the table was full of guests. Some were staying in the other buildings. A family of 6 from Switzerland, was staying in rooms above us.
Eric greeted most of the guests in French. Bobby spoke Creole French, that he'd learned from his grandparents. As it turns out, Lafayette has become a travel destination for many French speaking tourists. We shared conversations with guests from Montreal, French Basque Country, Leon, Switzerland... and Atlanta. My photo fails to capture the warmth and fun of this group, all trying our best to communicate with one another!
Don and I headed to dinner and found downtown Lafayette a little quiet, on the night of Ash Wednesday. It was only about 9 when we returned, but all was quiet. The table was set for breakfast and the other breakfast room was set as well.
We tiptoed up the stairs and opened our room. No key. I think that might be a first for a hotel or B&B. But we felt totally fine. We had met so many nice people at the social hour. I felt like we were sharing a home, like family.And when the Swiss family returned a while later, we were again glad we had met our "neighbors". The old floors were squeaky. They seemed to be moving chairs around or unpacking and laughing and talking softly. Funny. It just felt homey and quaint. I went to sleep feeling like a mom, "Oh good the kids are home."
The whole gang (and a few more) showed up at the breakfast table at 8:30. We had been asked the night before if we wanted the American breakfast or a Creole.
Don and I chose both. He claimed his crawfish eggs with spicy Cajun sauce was excellent. Normally we would share, but Eric had encouraged us to spread out and our socializing distracted us from plate swapping. All in all, a great breakfast experience!
We were totally surprised with our stay! The website was a bit vague, so we weren't sure what we were in for.
The house and grounds were charming and the people (host and guests) made the stay memorable. What a treat to experience a culture so different than our own (in Texas) just a few hours away!
#249- The Kendall, in Boerne
Texas Hill Country Inn
This is how "Ye Kendall Inn" looked nearly 2 decades ago.
Don and I ate lunch with our kids in the hotel's restaurant. That was long before we were searching for "Notable Night Hotels". But we were intrigued by the inn and the small town... pronounced like Bernie.
The Kendall Hill Country Inn
In January, Don and I returned to Boerne and spent a night at the hotel. The canopy was no longer green and a sheep had been added to the logo. The "Ye" was gone.
There was also a new set of critters. A sweet mama and baby buffalo, greeted us out front!
Then and Now
The town has nearly tripled in size, since we first stopped through, in 2003. I knew the town had grown, but I was eager see what had changed at the inn.
We arrived on a sunny January afternoon. The town of over 17,000 was buzzing with activity. The exterior of the 160+ year old hotel, had changed little... except for the entrance.
Home & Hotel
The hotel history goes further back than this aged image. The old photo was taken after Mr. & Mrs. Reed's Southern Colonial style home (from 1859) became the Boerne Hotel. The original Reed House is in the center.
Early on, the Reeds ended up renting out rooms in their home, to travelers. The Reed Hotel became the Boerne Hotel in 1878. Wings were added to both sides of the old house.
The black and white photo shows lots of land. It's nice that some of that open land has been preserved in a city park.
If we'd had an upstairs room, we could have looked out over the park.
But near the main doors, we found lots of open rockers... and a pair of dogs. We could have rocked away and pondered history for hours! We could have thought about all the activity that occurred on that open property. Instead we wandered and pondered.
Cowboys, Cattle, Horses... Camels!
The grounds around the hotel were used as a key stopping point for cattle drivers and military men. Cowboys and horses camped out on the land.
Before the Civil War, camels also spent some time on this land. Jefferson Davis stayed as a guest in the hotel, while 33 camels from Tunisia were tied up outside. It was part of Jefferson's experimental "Texas Camel Drive"!
Into the Inn
It was about 3:00, when Don and I headed inside to check in.
Clearly, the hotel had spiffed up since our last visit. There was a great blend of old and new.
Then and Now
It felt brighter! When I pulled up some of my old photos, I could see changes. Lots of light paint and fewer rugs.
Don headed for the desk and I checked out both sides of the lobby.
Nicole checked us in. She was wonderful, showing us around and sharing a little history. All the staff seemed enthused about our interest in the hotel's past.
I wanted so badly to stay in one of the original Reed House rooms, at the top of the stairs. But out of 34 guest rooms, only a few are available in the old section.
Out We Go
We weren't sure what we had booked... except that we usually go for the lower priced rooms. We followed Nicole out back.
The hotel doors opened to the back porch. There was no view of the park, but there were nice sitting areas, overlooking the courtyard.
There were tables and trees and strings of lights, to make things festive at night.
And there was a long, one-story addition that made me think... motel?
I was a little bummed when I realized our room was in this new addition. I had hoped for a 160 year old room. But once I learned the addition was from the early 1900's, I was fine.
Our sweet-suite at the end of the porch, was a pretty nice deal!
It was January, but nice enough that I sat on the cushioned chair with a little ivy for privacy.
The suite was small, but we could sort of spread out in two rooms for a bit.
I used the little sofa for some reading. The horse kept me company.
Comical Heating System
The room with queen bed, was cozy and quiet... except when the heat went on.
The sound came on with a distant clanking. The sound made me think of kids, racing up a metal fire escape. Then a rumbling roar, like a jet liner taking off... followed by a simmering, humming vibration in the wall. The sound was more amusing than annoying. Don and I had a hard time falling asleep, because we were giddy with anticipation. Honestly, I've never fallen asleep on the verge of laughter. But somehow we both slept!
The bed was comfy and the bathroom had nice marble and tile. The robes were just the right weight for Texas weather. I can't handle heavy robes.
The cozy, clean space gave no hints of the past. Most guests probably appreciate that, but I kind of missed having creaky doors and floors.
Luckily there was lots more to experience around the hotel.
Right outside our door, we spotted a fireplace. We wondered if some of the fireplace could have been part of the original kitchen.
We found some additional guest house buildings, past the courtyard.
The carriage house was original, but the church and school had been moved to the property, in recent years. All can be rented. We didn't get a chance to use the little soaking pool.
Food and Drink
The hotel's restaurant changed hands and had a new name, since our lunch years ago.
It was Friday, so we peeked in early to see about dining.
This photo shows just one end of the dining room. On a warmer day, there would have been extra dining options on the wraparound porch.
I remembered the cozy bar from our last visit. The colors and decor had brightened, just like the hotel.
There were a few people getting the weekend started before 4.
Past the bar, there was a classy little lounge space, with a scary critter. Without guests, I could get a good look at the puzzle of limestone, covering the walls.
Restaurant or Bar?
We returned at 6 and the restaurant was filling up. We were able to get a table in the bar, where we watched lots of regulars, greeting and gathering together.
We shared a dish of Mac-n-Cheese and devoured Chef Bohanan's, Chicken Fried Quail. An amazing dish, with cornmeal Johnny-cakes and Maple Cayenne syrup!
Night at the Inn
After eating, we stepped out in front to see the building lit at night.
Then we grabbed some coffee from the lobby and headed for the courtyard.
The winter chill, meant we got to enjoy the fireplace! The winter season also meant, we didn't have to share the courtyard with family reunions or wedding parties. I'm sure it's not always so quiet.
We scooted the chairs closer and enjoyed a real wood fire. My camera flash made things way too bright!
Nice Stay and Town
In the morning, we walked a block to town and had breakfast. We strolled through shops and studied old buildings. What a curious history with the town and hotel.
I wish we'd had more time to learn about the community's past. It was first inhabited by German "Free Thinkers". That's an interesting tangent right there! Around the turn of the century, Bourne was attracting visitors with health concerns. The hotel became sort of a health resort for guests suffering lung ailments. So much to think about!
So what will I remember most? Our one night stay was a good combination. Our welcoming inn, plus a quaint town, along with some intriguing history. Having our hotel a block from town, meant we got sort of a package deal. Hotel, Town & History! Perfect!
Don and I spent a few days over Christmas, in New Orleans! We decided Nola would be a festive place to celebrate, since our kids were on the west coast. We couldn't decide between the historic Hotel Monteleone, or the classic Roosevelt. So we booked both.
On Christmas day, we left the Monteleone in the French Quarter and lugged our bags down Canal Street to the Roosevelt. It was not actually dark (like photo) when we arrived. But this is the tall Roosevelt sign we headed towards, when we turned down Baronne Street.
The entrance beneath the glowing tree, didn't match my memory.
I remembered flags and a bold marquee, from 9 years ago. I was a little confused, until I realized there were entrances, at opposite ends of the building.
Years ago we stopped in with our kids, to see the spectacular Christmas decor. Of course, I had to snap a couple photos.
This photo makes me smile and miss the kids. This photo also made me wonder. Where were the crowds that evening, in late November?
Golden Revolving Door
This is the ornate entrance, that took us into the crowded lobby on Christmas Day.
We fumbled and rumbled our bags through the crowds. I didn't pull out a camera until much later!
Hidden Desk Counter
I didn't get any photos of the all the people swarming the lobby, although I wish I had. I've never seen so many decorated trees or so many families posing for pictures.
We must have looked lost. One kind man pointed us in the direction of the desk. It was hidden behind decorations and crowds.
Across from the desk, I spotted a brass mailbox.
In 1950, my grandmother stayed at the Roosevelt with her mother. My mom was in college when she received this letter, written on hotel stationary. It's funny to read my grandmother's description of New Orleans, "America's Most Interesting City! Those are actually the hotel's words on the envelope, not my grandmother's.
We lucked out. Our room (one of 504) was ready early! We headed up to the 9th floor.
The room wasn't huge, but it was a clean and comfy, corner room! I love extra windows!
Just like 1950, there was no fridge or coffee maker in the room. However, recent renovations meant there were plenty of outlets for technology. And there were comfy robes and good lighting in the bathroom. Simple pleasures. When did they start providing robes in nice hotels?
I liked the framed photographs, that took me back in time.
The photo on the left shows the hotel in its earlier days. The Grunewald opened in 1893, then expanded to 14 stories in 1908. It became The Roosevelt in the 1920's.
The view from the 9th floor, was entertaining! We could see the Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church, from one window. From another window we could look down on Canal Street, lined with palms.
And far to the right, we could spot the roof sign, for Hotel Monteleone. We could also see a sign for, "Oriental Sauna Spa Body Rubs". Hmmm. Interesting area!
I've never gone to a bar on Christmas... except when the car broke down in 1981 But, this was a New Orleans Christmas and were staying at the Roosevelt. It's an absolute must to visit the Sazerac Bar, if you're staying at the hotel.
It's highly possible my grandmother and great-grandmother did not enter the bar in 1950. However, they could have. In 1949, the bar opened its doors to women for the first time. Each year they replay this event, with a celebration called, "Storming the Sazerac".
It was 2 p.m. when we entered the crowded Art Deco bar. My eyes were drawn right away to the WPA murals, painted on the curved walls. When Paul Nina created them in 1939, they were meant to focus on the working people of the area.
No one in the crowded bar seemed to be paying any attention to the art, or the plaque that addressed concerns about the stereotyped images.
Celebrating at the Bar
Someday, I would like to come back and study the murals longer and learn more. But on Christmas afternoon, the Sazerac Bar vibe was not about contemplating anything.
We were lucky we got a standing spot, near the rounded, bar. Oddly there seemed to be more locals than tourists enjoying the iconic lounge. We had a fun time getting to know a few... while we nursed a Sazerac and a frothy,
Ramos Gin Fizz.
Eventually, Don and I each got a foot on the foot railing. We were able to admire the impressive 1878 Ascot Cup!
But that was not nearly as awesome as watching the skilled bartenders, juggling, shaking, stirring... and remembering orders! These guys were sharp!
Don and I suddenly realized we needed food. The hotel's Fountain Lounge Restaurant, was packed at 3:00, unlike my 6 am photos.
We didn't attempt to dine there. Instead we searched the internet for nearby restaurants.
We only found a few places open on Christmas day and they looked pretty sketchy.
The wait for a table was long, but we were able to grab 2 stools at the bar. The young staff, in festive floral shirts, was friendly and attentive.
We were served the most delicious pizza, with "Happy Hour" prices! Our check for $13. came with a complimentary, mini chocolate dessert!
Dinner and Back
Later in the evening, Don and I headed back to the French Quarter for dinner.
We could have Ubered, if the streets had looked deserted or eerie. But, there were plenty of people out and about. Walking to dinner added to the fun. We dined at the iconic 162 year old restaurant and meandered back around 10.
The lobby was still lively and loud! A tipsy couple asked if we would use their phone and snap a photo. That meant we got our posed pic, out of the deal. We headed up the elevator after that and our room was a quiet oasis.
We only had one night at the hotel and I was determined to experience the lobby without crowds. On December 26th, I came down the elevator before 6 a.m.
I felt like a kid, sneaking downstairs on Christmas morning. The elevator doors opened and I stepped out and grinned. The tree lights glowed and Christmas music played softly.
Just like a hotel ghost, I floated towards one end of the lobby to the next. I could finally take it all in, without distraction!
From Floor to Ceiling
I stared down at the mosaic tile, which I hadn't noticed, when it was covered with feet. Evidently it had been covered by carpet, until renovations that took place after Hurricane Katrina.
The coffered ceiling above my head, was equally impressive.
Doors and Windows
Without throngs of people, I found doors and windows I had missed earlier. Sadly the doors to the Blue Room were locked. What was room like in the 30's and 40's when Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller played?
I took time to study the display window, of the hotel's gift shop. Did any of the famous guests ever get a chance to browse through the lovely store. I doubt Elvis or JFK ever got to shop anywhere.
Chairs and Stairs
Down one hall, I found a most theatrical looking throne. I later chatted with the gentleman who would have shined my shoes, if I'd worn something worth shining. He was delightful and shared such a genuine enthusiasm for the hotel's history.
I also found a lovely, but modest staircase. I wondered why a grand hotel wouldn't have something larger. Maybe I missed some others stairs. Even though I explored, I missed plenty of things, like 23 ballrooms and the rooftop pool!
Most of all, I just couldn't stop studying the amazing display of lights and trees!
There was a day when I rolled my eyes at flocked trees. But the tradition of decorating the block-long lobby, goes back to 1925. I now love the Royal-Retro look! Looking from one end to the next was like staring into an infinity mirror.
I read that the decorations include, 46 decorated trees, 135,572 lights, 2,200 glass ornaments and 698 hand tied bows.
The trees and branches were dazzling, but I was sort of curious how the lobby looked when the decor was gone. Maybe Mardi Gras colors invade the lobby in February? I'm guessing, the statue on the pedestal, (which is actually a pendulum clock) gets a lot more attention when the decorations are taken down.
Before heading back upstairs, I stepped outside, into a foggy, eerie morning.
This time I felt like the teenager, sneaking out the house. Was it wise to be out, where I'd seen some questionable characters, the night before? But it didn't seem at all daring. Everyone in all of New Orleans seemed to be off sleeping, somewhere far away.
Coffee with Don
By the time Don and I had showered, we could smell coffee from Teddy's Cafe, just off the lobby.
We grabbed two cups and wandered the lobby, in search of the perfect sitting area.
We sat along the wall, sipping and chatting... and peeking out through the lit trees as the lobby came to life.
We couldn't linger long, with a drive ahead. We grabbed our bags and checked out before 10.
Don took a picture of me with the holiday decor. I took a picture of him, just before we headed back to Texas.
We stayed at a hotel with 125 years of history. Our stay felt glamorous and festive. In fact, I don't think we've ever stayed in a hotel, with such spectacular holiday decor!
What will I remember most? The giddy crowds, the entertaining Sazerac Bar... and my quiet morning with the Christmas lobby!
We finally stayed! This hotel in the French Quarter, has been on the list for a while! Don and I arrived at the magical hotel, on December 23rd.
We were ready to absorb all the festive frills the hotel had to offer!
I first fell in love with the idea of a holiday stay, in 2014.
We were in New Orleans visiting family for Thanksgiving. While wandering the day after, we came upon the fabulous Monteleone, already decked out for the holidays. Since my daughter was also decked out in her new hat from a nearby shop, I begged her to pose. The hotel went on my mental list, that day.
Five years later, Don and I found ourselves facing a Christmas without any kids! Instead of pouting, we looked into hotels in New Orleans. Monteleone had special Papa Noel rates! $136 !!
I was giddy as we headed toward the French Quarter, on Christmas Eve-Eve! Our hotel on Royal Street, looked as Royal as I remembered... with its flamboyant, Beaux-Arts style. In fact it looked like it had been plucked from a street in Paris and planted in New Orleans!
Royal Street was bustling when we arrived. Even our Uber driver was surprised by the mini traffic jam.
We were glad not to pay $40. a night for parking, but the parking garage couldn't have been cuter!
In We Go
We headed inside and awkwardly rolled our baggage up a few stairs. There was a ramp from the parking garage, evidently.
The space was not empty, like my photo!
There were lots of people in the lobby. Just off the lobby in the the Carousel Bar, there were even more people. The coveted seats at the rotating bar were all taken, with plenty of hopeful guests lurking nearby.
Looking in the Lobby
Our room wasn't ready, so we lounged in the lobby and took it all in.
First I admired the lovely Christmas decorations. Then I took in all the permanent decor, from chandeliers, painted ceilings, arched windows and ionic columns.
I heard the beautiful clock chiming, before I even spotted it.
The side of the classic antique clock, had a some sweet carved surprises!
The Monteleone Family
There were plaques and portraits to remind us, that the same family has owned the hotel for 133 years.
Antonio, a cobbler from Sicily, switched from shoes to hotels in 1886. Five generations and five major additions later, the hotel is still in the family. That's amazing.
Before long, our room was ready and we headed to elevators.
The elevator took us up in a building, that was one of the 5 additions.
Our Papa Noel rate didn't get us one of the fancy suites in the grand, older section. But we got a 15th floor room, facing Royal Street.
I loved the small lion, greeting us from the door plaque. Our room felt cozy and classy. I appreciate it, when TVs are hidden.
There was a soft, reading chair. Two would have been nice.
The linens were freshly pressed. The gold trim and lion logo, added to the royal feel!
The fridge and Keurig coffee maker came in handy. The bathroom was small and a bit dim, but there was a tub!
I was sort of amused to realize the 15th floor view was too high, for observing the street below.
However we weren't too high, to be free from the street noise. But that was fine. The distant sounds of street music and occasional honking and voices, just added to the flavor.
After unpacking, we headed down to the Carousel Bar, but it was of course jammed. We wandered back up, to explore the roof deck.
The roof top pool looked inviting, even in December. The poolside, Aqua Bella Bar was closed but would have been fun. We peeked again later and the water was warm and lovely. Bring suits next time!
One of the biggest treats of our stay, was enjoying our location.
We could step out our door and easily walk to all our favorite places. Being so close to Christmas Day, meant we didn't deal with bachelorette parties and crowds of frat boys. The sidewalks were felt busy and friendly. What a nice surprise.
Staying 2 nights, meant we were able to enjoy nearby dining AND the hotel's restaurant.
On Christmas Eve, we had reservations for Criollo.
The restaurant looked formal and quiet, when I peeked in earlier.
The lounge was not empty. Later, there was live music. Don and I laughed over our Christmas Eve dinner, when we heard a jazzy version of "Do the Hustle".
Dinner with the Writers
Our reservations weren't until 8:30. I'm sure that would be considered early dining, by the famous writers who used to dine and drink at Monteleone.
We were seated in a small, side room. The space was decorated with curious art and objects, related to authors like Hemingway and Faulkner, who have histories with the hotel. I loved the framed image of Tennessee Williams (with rows of books) looking down from the wall.
Criollo is the Spanish word for Creole. The menu got me excited about tasting all those Creole flavors... Spanish, Italian, French, African and Caribbean!
Here I am, ready to dig into my filet mignon, with scallop and shrimp. Merry Christmas Eve to that!
It was after 10 when we finished dinner. We peeked into the Carousel Bar.
Forget it. We thought the tourists would disappear on Christmas Eve and we'd finally get a seat. We gave up and I posed with the Christmas trees instead.
Morning at Monteleone
I was determined to see the hotel without crowds. On the morning of Christmas Eve I headed down the elevator before 7.
It was fun to see the street without cars and people. I was glad the holiday lights were still glowing.
Then I headed through the quiet lobby and found my way to the fitness room.
All trips to Nola involve consuming lots of calories. I enjoyed a little workout with a view of the Mississippi.
I finished up and returned to the lobby in my grubby state. I peeked into the quiet lounge.
As I snapped a photo of the empty bar, I was greeted by Michael Dupree, the hotel's beverage manager. I asked him for Carousel Bar tips and he laughed. He said there is always a line outside the door, when the bar opens at 11.
Morning at the Carousel!
I couldn't have been more thrilled when Michael invited me into the closed bar to take photos.
It was so much fun to see the cushy couches and the colorful bar, without a single guest.
Michael seemed incredibly relaxed for a manager, ready to face the holiday crowds. He talked about his love of New Orleans and the parades and the people.
I thought about Truman Capote who claimed his mother gave birth to him at the Carousel Bar. Not true, but she did live at the hotel, when she was pregnant with him!
Michael and I shared a few stories about St. Louis and Texas and by the time I headed up for a shower, I was holding tickets for drinks at the bar. What a sweet guy!
Don and I didn't bring presents to the hotel, but we did bring our stockings. We decorated with lights the night before.
And we filled each others stockings in the morning. Instead of calorie burning, I focused on calorie partaking. We enjoyed coffee and muffins... and candy for breakfast.
After numerous attempts, we finally had the Carousel Experience! First Don and I lurked, like we learned from others.
Then a zebra seat suddenly opened! I sat and Don awkwardly walked beside me as I traveled on the platform. We learned quickly that people are drinking and no one cares. He squeezed on and rode next to me.
Don eventually got the lion seat, next to me. He had a Sazerac and I tried Carousel Bar's famous, Vieux-Carre. We enjoyed the people watching as much as the drinks.
Catching a Ride
We chatted with a number of carousel travelers. We snapped pictures like tourists.
We also jumped up and moved out of the way when there was a shift change. The bartenders have to hop over the bar, to get out of their circle!
It seems ridiculously obvious, what is notable about a stay at Monteleone. The location, the Carousel Bar, the history, the decorations... We got so much, without paying big bucks!
Mostly I'm happy that our stay exceeded my expectations. I was worried I might be disappointed. I was worried that we'd be surrounded by a strange crowd of tourists, escaping to New Orleans for the holidays... like us. But the travelers and the locals we met, all seemed to be enjoying themselves. The hotel felt festive and the city felt welcoming. The only thing that could have improved our stay... enjoying it with the kids!
Fresh Look for The Fredonia!
Our night at The Fredonia, was a perfect ending to a weeklong road trip.
But the historic town of Nacagdoches was right on our route. And one peek at the hotel website, showed me that the place had made some recent changes. We booked.
November in Nacogdoches
The drive into town was a breeze. The lack of SFA State University students, could have played into that. It was the Sunday, before Thanksgiving.
We arrived to find the sun shining, on the sprawling brick building. I could just imagine the excitement in 1955, when The Fredonia opened. The community got the first-class, modern hotel that they'd craved.
The People's Hotel
As we approached the entrance, I admired the "Creole Modern" wrought iron. I didn't know the term at the time, but I recognized the style. I'm pretty sure my Great Aunt Marguerite had some of that white-painted iron work, with acorns and leaves. I had no interest in it that look, as a kid in the sixties. It totally amuses me now.
The plaque near the door, reminded us that the hotel was built by the town! In 1952, residents saw the need for a modern hotel and the residents came together and raised funds. Could that even happen today?
I altered my photo to look like an old postcard. I love motel and hotel postcards from the fiftie & sixties. Actually the stylish white lettering is new. The hotel changed names from the 1970's until it closed in 1985.
It regained its Fredonia name when it reopened in 1989. That was back when mid-century modern was not so hip. The 1950's decor disappeared.
We checked in at about 3. The staff was welcoming and pretty cute, in their purple checked shirts.
I was thrilled to see the photo mural, spotlighting the swimming pool (with bathing caps!) in the fifties.
I noticed the glowing, pink terrazzo floors, later that evening. I'm glad they were saved, during recent renovations. I was also glad to see the mid-century furnishings were back... at least the style.
I liked the retro look of the stairs. I'm not sure where the stairs went and I'm not sure why I failed to find out. I'm usually a better explorer.
And then there was the purple guy on the wall, near the bar entrance! The angry Lumberjack, was a reminder that we were in a college town.
First City Cafe
The hotel's spacious, main dining area was recently given a new look. A new name was given, to put a spotlight on Nacagdoches, which claims to be the oldest city in Texas.
I loved the bright, space age feel. It looked like it could have been a dining room, at the NYC World's Fair in 1964.
The curved shape of the room was extra mod. The view of the kidney-shaped pool and patio, was pleasant on a sunny afternoon.
It was close to perfect weather, for dining outside near the pool.
I liked the critter, watching over the pool and garden. I asked the desk staff if that was a bunny and if so, did it have a name? They laughed and said no one had ever asked about a name. I will name him Astrobunny, after my one and only bunny pet.
The pool/patio was totally enclosed by the restaurant, hotel and the one-story motel addition.
We wanted to stay in the tower section, because it was the part of the original building in 1955. But, the motel came soon after. I would pick the motel experience, next time. There are 10 "Cabana Suites" overlooking the pool.
Staying in November, wasn't the best time for enjoying the pool area. But there were a number of standing heaters and a fire pit.
And the trees still had some leaves. There were about 3 amazing trees, on that patio! They obviously built around them, in 1955. Beautiful.
We always ask for higher floors when we book. We hoped our room on the 6th floor might have a view.
We stepped out of the elevator on the 6th floor and found a nice little sitting area. There was hot coffee available in the morning.
Our room was small but luxurious. (We usually book the cheapest) The bed linens were lovely, with simple, green stripes.
Don graciously gave me the side, with the desk. There wasn't room for two bedside tables. small room, meant the TV felt huge. There was a nice soundproofing feature.
The bathroom was also small, but very sleek. I wore a comfy robe and enjoyed coffee in the cute mug. The serious owl watched from above.
My favorite renovations, don't remove all reminders of the past. The room felt fresh and new, but that funny window, happily took me right back in time. Why did they place it so high?
The height and the condensation, made it hard for me to get a perfect view. But it was a fun one, when I stood on my toes. I spotted a few fall colors and church steeple.
Autumn in Nacagdoches
One of the nicest things about our stay, was being able to step outside the building and explore the historic old town.
We had the most glorious afternoon walk, as the sun lowered. Next time, we'll take in more of the town's history.
9 Flags Bar and Grill
In the late afternoon, we peeked into the hotel's bar. The sun was illuminating the glass bottles in the window. There was some very intriguing decor, that was very 21st century. Copper stools and lights, dripping from the ceiling like Spanish moss...
We weren't able to peek in the hotel's other restaurant, Republic Steakhouse. It was closed on Sunday. For dinner, we had to decide between the Cafe and 9 Flags Bar.
We decided on 9 Flags, since it seemed cozier and had an interesting crowd at about 7. The menu looked intriguing. We ordered a chicken Caesar salad and "Gruene Chicken Enchiladas". The cornbread croutons on the salad were good enough to be an appetizer. The Mexican dish was an amazing mix of sophisticated flavors! I can't begin to explain! Yum!
After dinner, we headed out to the patio and enjoyed the view across the pool and building, bathed in pastel lights.
The temps had dropped quite a bit, so we asked at the desk about the fire pit. It took a little while, but before long the fire was lit. What a treat! We sat outside on that chilly night, talking about our past week traveling through OK, MO and AR. A nice way to wind down.
We were pleasantly surprised with our stay! We got to enjoy a retro modern hotel, in the oldest city in Texas!
I'm glad the the DeWitt family stepped in, to bring this hotel back to the community in 2017! What a great job.
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!