Two nights, two hotels, and several tours, restaurants and events in tow. Here's what happened when I decided to staycation in one of the best, most unique, cities in the world.
Day one: I found myself in Hotel Mazarin spending the evening touring the facilities. Part of the J Collection, the Mazarin is known as the "Diamond of the French Quarter." The beautiful hotel sits in the heart of the Quarter surrounded by some of the city's most famous restaurants, bars and of course the infamous Bourbon Street. The hotel offers 102 deluxe, spacious rooms with luxury showers and classic furniture. The Mazarin has four meeting spaces for guests and is known for hosting wedding parties, bridal photoshoots and business meetings. Among the meeting spaces is the Queen Anne Courtyard. The 2280 square foot space is a "storybook courtyard" with a fountain as its centerpiece. It's an ideal wedding destination.
While there is no restaurant at Hotel Mazarin, the hotel offers two amazingly unique bars.
If you're looking for a speakeasy-like experience, then look no further than the 21st Amendment Bar. The intimate space is a walk back into time, inspired by the days of prohibition. The bar offers nightly jazz with some of the city's traditional cocktails.
Also attached to the hotel is Patrick's Bar Vin, a wine bar with a worldly flare. Named after former maître d', Patrick Van Hoorebeek, Patrick's Bar Vin is a one of a kind wine haven with a highly curated wine list.
Opened this year, Justine is a casual French Quarter dining space with a trendy vibe. Packing the table with food, we started with; Gulf Select raw oysters, shrimp cocktail and the steak tartare. For the entree we feasted on the wonderfully marinated duck confit, the Moroccan short spiced rib and many more of the fantastic dishes. The night finished with an assortment of desserts from the Banana Creme St. Honore to the honey vanilla pot de creme.
The Jung Hotel & Residences
Day two: it was time to check into hotel number two. After walking into the door of the Jung Hotel & Residences, I was greeted with a glass of champagne as I joined the rest of the crew for an Arts and Champagne tour. The tour is offered to the public and showcases the local art that decorates the entire hotel. Also, a part of the J Collection, The Jung is a modern styled hotel with a long history. The hotel's history dates to 1908. Originally called The Jung, the building itself has been the home of other major hotel chains. The current renovations, completed in 2017, restored the hotel back to its historic value, including the Grand Hall, where many Carnival balls, galas, proms and events were held in the past. The Jung, like all the hotels in the J Collection is locally run and owned.
Located on Canal Street the Jung Hotel offers a comfortable stay with spacious rooms, double the size of the originals. There are 171 guestrooms that ranges in price from $109-169 per night. Along with the guestrooms, The Jung has 36 residential style executive accommodations that are equipped with kitchen amenities and a washer and dryer.
The Jung is aesthetically designed with a dynamic location that is downtown but slightly away from the heavier traffic. The rooftop pool and rooftop terrace offer exceptional views of the city. On site you can find a hotel lobby bar, restaurant, rooftop bar, and The Daily Grind Coffee Co.
That night we dined at the hotel where we thoroughly enjoyed a coarse meal that included Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, Catfish Courtbouillon and Creme Brule with berries.
DAY 3: The Finale
We started our day with a private tour of Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World. The tour starts with a video that shows a bit of the history of Mardi Gras along with the history of the studio itself. Created in the 1930s, the studio tour walks you through the facilities while explaining the thorough process of what it takes to make the city's most elaborate floats and Mardi Gras props.
As a local Mardi Gras enthusiast, I was surprised by the amount of knowledge I did not know about the beloved local holiday. The tour was certainly worthwhile.
After working up an appetite, we headed over to Luke in the CBD (City Business District of New Orleans).
There we enjoyed what is likely the best brussels sprouts I've ever tasted in my life; perfectly buttered and seasoned. After a couple lunchtime cocktails, we indulged in our entrees. The Crispy Oyster BLT did not disappoint. It was flavorful and hardy.
Full and happy, we walked over to the corner of Canal and Magazine Street for a private tour of the newly opened Sazerac House. There we viewed exclusive event spaces, a speakeasy and enjoyed the traditional beverage along the way. It is a spectacular tour as they take you through the history; showing how Sazerac is part of the customs, traditions and culture of New Orleans. The fascinating museum is high-tech, equipped with virtual bartenders and automated historical facts.
The Bourbon Orleans
Also, a part of the J Collection, The Bourbon Orleans Hotel is in the French Quarter on the corner of Orleans Avenue and Bourbon Street. The historic building was once a high-society ballroom and later a convent. The mystery and stories behind this hotel qualified it to be on the list of Haunted Hotels of New Orleans.
There we joined Stanley Broussard, Executive Chef of Roux on Orleans, who gave us a private demonstration of the finer points of making authentic Creole gumbo. Using the freshest seasoning, seafood and special touches, it was delicious.
Shortly after we walked through the lobby over to the O Bar where we experienced a mixology session. The O Bar is attached to the hotel and faces Bourbon street.
Farewell to the Weekend
We ended the staycation with a farewell dinner and Arnaud's Restaurant was a perfect choice. The historic restaurant has been a part of New Orleans culture since the 1910s. Arnaud's is famous for its classic Creole Cuisine and exemplary services. Like the old traditional culture, Arnaud's maintains the southern hospitality that New Orleans has been known for for centuries. Along with excellent service we enjoyed dishes like, the Pompano Duarte, Veal Tournedos Chantal, and the Breast of Duck Ellen. To close out the evening we enjoyed their famous Bananas Foster which you wouldn't want to leave without experiencing. The banana dessert is not only delicious but always provides for an excellent show with the flamed rum providing fire and flames for guests to enjoy.
The staycation was packed with events and it was amazing. If time and money allow, it is always nice to vacay in your city, you truly never know what you will learn.