I would say, in my grammatically correct way: ‘A New Orleans B&B At Which You Should Definitely Stay.” I talk this way, too. Not all the time, but sometimes there’s no need to leave a participle dangling without an object, if you know what I mean. What’s this all about? My WordPress mentor, Emily, brought an article to our attention in which our boutique experience inn is mentioned, and in the #1 slot, at that. The article, on ‘Thrill List,’ is called “American B&Bs You Should Definitely Stay At.”
Why not “Definitely Stay In?” I don’t know. I guess that’s why I’m not an editor—as if you needed more proof after reading this blog long enough.
While I’m not one to complain about free publicity, I would like to editorialize about some of the statements in this article. These things are written with only a cursory amount of research. No one phoned me to ask how the inn is furnished or what we serve for breakfast. It was cribbed from our website or from other articles. I have no problem with this. I used to write articles like this for the internet so I know the author was pressed for time and being paid pennies on a deadline. I’m going to cut and paste the text of the article below and add my commentary in red. I hope you don’t mind.
Let’s break all this text up with some photos from the South Jefferson Davis Parkway neutral ground. I was going to use these for an installment about S. Jeff Davis Parkway, but this subject came up. Don’t worry, I’ll use these photos again and explain them later.
Before we get started, though, I would like to make some general observations. I’ve stopped referring to La Belle Esplanade as a ‘bed and breakfast.’ We are one in the strictest sense of the term. We are a small operation of five suites and we are owner-occupied. We have a permanent staff of two, the owners, Frau Schmitt and your humble narrator, with an occasional assist during busy seasons from Tammie the Housekeeper. I think we offer something decidedly different from what most people think of as a B&B, however. We are not overly fussy or fusty or old-fashioned. I’m a curmudgeon, but stepping into our lobby isn’t like stepping into someone’s house. Stepping into our lobby, you’ll find yourself in The New Orleans Odditarium, a makeshift museum that looks more like a museum in it’s homegrown way than it looks like your great-grandparent’s parlor. This is the whole point of the article, but I wish it were more clear.
The article below also focuses on the two things that people associate with B&Bs, namely: beds and breakfasts. Believe me, we put a lot of attention to the beds and to the breakfasts we offer, but when you stay at La Belle Esplanade, a New Orleans B&B you should definitely stay at, we hope you are looking for more than a place to lay your head and a place to stuff your pie hole in the morning. We are much more interested, now that we are established, in the experience we offer our guests, the concierge services and recommendations we have at the ready, and the adventure of staying in a real New Orleans neighborhood and learning what it is like to live in America’s Most Interesting City. If you want a bed and complimentary breakfast, you can get that at the La Quinta off the interstate highway exit ramp in your town. It won’t be as good, but there will be a bed and there will be a kind of a breakfast before you check out.
Now, on to the article itself:
LA BELLE ESPLANADE.
“The five suites at La Belle Esplanade match the inn’s eclectic façade [True dat!] — each is painted a different color [Every room, and every ceiling for that matter, is a different color.], and furnished to reflect the building’s 1883 roots with clawfoot tubs, marble top tables [I find this a little misleading. The 1883 architecture is the same and there are claw foot tubs, but there are very few antiques in the house; fewer every year. The antique furniture just isn’t comfortable. There are historical artifacts throughout the inn, but the décor is more a celebration of all things New Orleans and my eccentric interests and tastes (with a dash Frau Schmitt’s better sense) than being true to 1883.] , and artwork all over the place (they trust you). [If you stay with us, we had better trust you. The inn is full of original artwork, some suites have more than others, but no one has absconded with one of our ‘priceless’ oil paintings. The one in the Clio Suite is 4’x5′—try getting that on an airplane! We like to think of the whole building and all it contains as a large piece of performance art in progress. It isn’t dull within these walls.]
“La Belle Esplanade doesn’t have a license to cook. “How the hell is it a B&B?” you ask. [Why does the author have to say hell? I introduce questions in the text all the time and I never interject the word ‘hell’ unless I’m talking about Hell, which I don’t think I’ve ever done in these pages.] Well don’t panic [Phew!]; they turn to local markets, pastry shops, and neighborhood artisans to churn out the chow [Our breakfasts are really much, much more appealing than the meals you’ll find in a boot camp mess hall.]. You never know what you’re going to get, but it’ll have been picked/baked/created that morning. Favorites include Italian Creole sausages that come from a shop that’s been making them for nearly a century, and buttermilk drops, a local specialty. They’ve even got a jelly lady. [We do have a jelly lady. Her name is Jane. She drives her white pickup truck from St. Bernard Parish, downriver from New Orleans, to deliver jellies and pickles when we’re running low. She usually brings her granddaughter with her.]”
All in all, I haven’t much to complain about. What am I complaining about? Nothing, I suppose. I just don’t get the tone of the piece. It isn’t exactly a New Yorker profile, nor is it meant to be, but there is so much left out. My wish is that one of these days someone from the New Yorker will call. Patience is a virtue.
When we appear in these online lists, it’s always a pleasant surprise. It’s much better than being on the “Worst Place to Stay in New Orleans” list. I’ll post this link about bad New Orleans neighborhoods because I find it interesting that most of the responses are full of measured praise for this magical city we call home. I didn’t read all 41 entries but I can tell you that Frau Schmitt and I walk around all parts of the city at all hours of the day and night. Nothing untoward has ever happened to us. New Orleanians are the friendliest people on Earth. I admittedly make this statement as a native New Englander so the bar is set pretty low from my perspective. I have lived here long enough, however, to believe that this is true.
If you are wondering who Jose Marti was, here’s a helpful close-up of the plaque on the statue’s base:
If you are still wondering who was Jose Marti, well, that’s an article for another day. I thought I would spend today clarifying and expanding on what La Belle Esplanade is all about, exactly. We may well be one of the American B&Bs you should definitely stay at. In fact, I’ll go on record and state, unequivocally, that we are the one New Orleans B&B you should definitely stay at. How’s that?
We offer more than a bed and a breakfast. We offer a headquarters for your New Orleans adventures. You can spend time in the French Quarter and on Frenchmen Street, but there is a whole wide city to explore down here. Come and see for yourself.
I would like to offer a tip of my fedora to Kate Sitarz, the author of the piece quoted above. Thank you for including us, Ms. Sitarz. We really do appreciate it and we will do our best to live up to your recommendation.
À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade
…where every morning is a curated breakfast salon.
July 5, 2016: about 93 degrees F and as pleasant as any other day in New Orleans.