Summer is the slow season hereabouts. It’s hot. It’s humid. It will rain at some point every day, even if the sun is shining, often more than once. That’s just the way it is so a lot of travelers don’t visit New Orleans in July and August. That’s fine. It leaves the city to the people who live here and to intrepid travelers, and to Europeans, who don’t mind heat, humidity, or getting wet. Because it’s slow though, a lot of people expect low summer hotel rates in New Orleans.
The big hotels go along with that expectation. I don’t blame them. They have large staffs, enormous electric bills, a huge marketing budget. If all their 300 rooms are full at half price, they make the same and have the same personnel expenses as when they are half full at full price. Their housekeepers need something to do, after all.
If this is your first visit to our website, we don’t have a lot of rooms. We have five somewhat luxurious and beautifully decorated suites, and we offer very personalized and individual service. We can accommodate 10 people total at any given time if those people don’t mind pairing up in five shared beds, one in each suite, two to a bed max. We don’t host a lot of groups unless the groups are made up of couples. We are a small boutique operation. Sometimes we feel like the fish in the medieval manuscript above (courtesy of Discarding Images, your #1 source for medieval imagery) compared to the chain hotel birds in our particular pond.
We could lower our rates to be 100% full during summer, but we don’t. We don’t lower our rates for a night’s stay, but we don’t raise them either, so there’s that. People call and ask why we don’t offer a summer discount. Other small inns lower their rates for the slow season, after all.
My polite response can only be: We are not other inns. I don’t say this with a supercilious sneer, it just is what it is. When our inn is empty, our overhead drops to next to nil. No air conditioning, no lights on, no food to purchase. Frau Schmitt and I go out for breakfast, ourselves, and, let me tell you, I find her wonderful breakfast company. We’d love to have you, and we do have bills to pay, but during the slow season, we are an army of two. Tammie the Housekeeper has a summer job. I would tell you what it is but she’s sworn me to secrecy.
I can’t speak for other inns, but we do the same amount of work for our guests and we provide the same services during the busy season as we do during the slow season. If you are looking for a bargain, I’m no going to stop you. There is always the Holiday Inn Express across from City Hall. They’re charging $73.00 a night as I write this. I just checked. It’s in a really boring neighborhood.
I’m not writing any of this to seem snide. To each his or her own and you may be on a budget. I can’t begrudge you that. Our slow season gives us a chance to make repairs to the inn and freshen up the decor, and the paint, and change things around for when we’ll be busy again. La Belle Esplanade is like a work of art that is always in progress. You won’t notice when you stay with us, but when you come back a year later, small things will be different. I just added a jar of cigars in the lobby and one of them has a prank explosive charge planted in it. Try one. It’s like Russian Roulette without the danger of death.
If you want to stay with us in the summer, we’re happy to have you. La Belle Esplanade is half full most of this week. Both Frau Schmitt and I are always happy to be innkeepers and do what voodoo that we do to introduce people to the side of New Orleans that they can’t read about in guidebooks. We love our profession and having people stay with us is our chance to shine, especially this time of year when there are plenty of deals and no lines anywhere in the city. But, it’s nice to slow down a smidge after we’ve had a full house for the past 5 months.
There’s one inn near us, about a mile away as the pelican flies, that lowers its rates dramatically during summer. It’s the Oakview Bed and Breakfast. Frau Schmitt and I know Russell, the innkeeper. He gave us a tour of his inn and we spent about an hour and a half chitchatting in his open self-serve bar. Yeah, that’s right, if you stay at Oakview there’s an open bar. Help yourself. We don’t do that and we’ll probably lose business now that I’m telling you, but it’s right there on his website, buried in the amenities listings and his busy season rate is $139.00 a night for the expensive rooms. Russell runs a very nice inn and we recommend it to people when we’re fully booked, which is more often than not during the busy season.
During the summer, Russell doesn’t put out a full breakfast. At least that’s what he told us when we last spoke. With 40 bucks off, no one complains about not getting breakfast, but that isn’t what we’re about. When you stay at La Belle Esplanade you are going to get the full treatment whether you like it or not. Most people like it. That means you will get everything you should get for the price you pay to stay here. We’re happy to see you. We want to spend time with you and share what we know about New Orleans so that you can fall in love with this city as much as we have. You won’t only get to talk to your hotel’s concierge, you’ll get to jawbone with its owners. Try that at a chain.
If you want to visit New Orleans at its slowest, now is the time. Low summer hotel rates in New Orleans are easy to come by but we don’t play that game. We’re running our ongoing Get-What-You-Pay-For Special. There aren’t a lot of places that do that even during the busy season when they jack up the rates but we think this is the best way to conduct our business. When we do raise our rates during festivals and high demand, we throw in even more lagniappe than usual. If you don’t know what lagniappe is, you’ll have to stay with us to find out. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
This really is a nice time of year here because there aren’t any crowds. If you don’t mind the heat, the humidity, and the fact that it will rain at least once a day while you’re here, it’s a paradise. If you want to do it on the cheap, there are plenty of big hotels downtown that will be happy to put your head in one of their beds. We’ll be happy if you stay with us, too, but you won’t be just a head in a bed. You’ll be a guest we will want to take care of and who we will want to introduce to this wonderful city we call home. If we’re full, which is unlikely, you can always stay at Oakview B&B. In fact, I recommend Oakview. It’s right across from City Park and it’s on the streetcar line. I prefer our establishment, and our neighborhood, but Russell will treat you right, too, for half the price.
Tell him we sent you.
À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade
…where every morning is a curated breakfast salon every time of year.