La Belle Esplanade is a speck of a place in New Orleans, just one small photogenic Creole manor house in the middle of the 2nd-most beautiful street in a city full of beautiful streets. La Belle Esplanade is a heck of a place in New Orleans, too. 2216 Esplanade Avenue. Get yourself a Google street view if you’re interested. If that’s too much trouble for you, here’s what it looks like:
We keep some custom leather-bound guest journals in our suites for guests to write in for future guests to get advice. We aren’t the only small boutique inn that does this. When we stayed in Natchitoches last month, the B&B we stayed in also had a guest journal on the nightstand next to our bed.
When we stayed at that B&B in Natchitoches, I took the time to read the guest journal on the nightstand. There were a lot of ripped out pages! That didn’t bode well, but it reflected what I already thought about the place. I read all the entries. What the innkeepers thought were complimentary enough to keep in the journal didn’t bode well for the place either. I read them aloud to Frau Schmitt instead of engaging in our usual pillow talk. There were only eight uncensored entries so it didn’t take long. “We already know this place isn’t that great,” Frau Schmitt said when I was finished reading aloud. Frau Schmitt is usually right about these things.
As I’ve said before in this forum, we don’t think of La Belle Esplanade as a bed and breakfast. I know I need to change the sign we had made four years ago.
When we stay in B&Bs we leave them non-plussed. I, for one, am not interested in staying in somebody’s house who is running the inn on the sideline or as an amateur. I talk with a lot of innkeepers who run B&Bs. Here is what some of them say:
“We can’t offer top class amenities, or top flight service, or be flexible, we’re too small.”
“This is only a part time job to help us pay our mortgage.” Or: “I didn’t retire to have a full time job. That’s why we have a B&B.”
“I have a life and I can’t spend all my time taking care of guests.”
“We can’t afford to compete with the big hotels. We just have a couple of rooms in our house.”
—None of these places are places I would want to stay. None of these sentiments are what guided Frau Schmitt or your humble narrator when we set out to be innkeepers. We like to think that we run the kind of place we would like to stay in. Ours isn’t a job. For us, it is a profession, a vocation. How often do you get to talk with a hotel’s owners for an hour at breakfast? You can do that at La Belle Esplanade. We are interested in what you have to tell us, and we are interested in sharing what we know about our city.
We don’t call La Belle Esplanade a B&B. La Belle Esplanade is a boutique experience inn. Staying with us isn’t like staying in somebody’s house. We have a museum in our lobby. In fact, we have a lobby that we call a lobby rather than a ‘common area.’
Staying at La Belle Esplanade is making your adventure’s headquarters in a small hotel that is staffed by two people who are passionate about what they do. We are passionate about this remarkable city we call home. We love to share what we know about New Orleans so that our guests can get a grasp of what it is like to live in what is, arguably, the best place on earth. We know a lot about New Orleans. A lot. Just ask what you want to know about anything. We are happy to talk about whatever you want to talk about. There are freewheeling conversations in our dining room every morning, all of them interesting, none of them out of a can.
We know we need a new sign. I just haven’t decided on a new design.
Anyhow, we keep guest journals in our suites for our guests to write in. Unlike that gussied-up flophouse in Natchitoches, we’ve never felt the urge to tear out a page from our guests’ journals. Some entries are prosaic, a list of things guests have done during their stay, pointing out the highlights or pointing out some things in the city that aren’t as intriguing as the guide books say (we warned them). Some entries are illustrated with sketches that our more artistically inclined guests have made of things that have stuck in their minds after their strolls about our fair city. Some entries are written using the Palmer Method, while others are printed in capitol letters only. Others are written in calligraphy. No matter how the message is scrawled, the bottom line is that La Belle Esplanade is a heck of a place in New Orleans for your New Orleans adventures. A trip to New Orleans isn’t a vacation; it is a trip to another pleasant world altogether.
Cher and Joey stayed with us when we first opened, almost four years ago. They are native Louisianans. You can tell because their accents are as thick and sweet as sorghum. Plus, they are as plumb nice as everyone from Louisiana is. You can tell they aren’t from Connecticut.
They know New Orleans well. They have been back to New Orleans since they visited us that first time but they haven’t stayed with us. Why? Because they have a large family. We are not the least expensive option for lodgings in the city and we don’t accept children under the age of 13.
Cher and Joey came back to visit us again, for too brief a stay. It was just last weekend. Where does the time go? Here is what they wrote in the guest journal in La France Suite, where they stayed this last weekend. Their thoughts were expressed with impeccable penmanship:
“La Belle Esplanade will remain our favorite…
a beautiful memory,
and a beautiful dream…
until next time.
Only a churl would rip that page out of the journal. Cher and Joey, if you’re reading this, you always have a headquarters on Esplanade Avenue. You have two friends in New Orleans. Count on that. Bet your bottom dollar.
As we tally opinions, we can only conclude that La Belle Esplanade is a heck of a place in New Orleans. You can find out for yourself. There is only one place to make reservations. It’s on this website. We are a boutique experience inn. You’ll get a bed and you’ll get breakfast, but we’re not so much a bed and breakfast. If you are looking to learn about what it is like to live in New Orleans, visit like you belong here. Come stay at La Belle Esplanade.
À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade
Good memories are made on our street.
August 19, 2016: Frau Schmitt and I went to the National WWII Museum today. We recommend it. Frau Schmitt is usually right about these things.