I always love dipping into the old mailbag but we don’t do it in this format very often.  So, for you regular readers who think I’m getting lazy reprinting correspondence with former and future guests, you know I don’t indulge in this cliché more than I think is enlightening.  The vast majority of the words in this blog are written sizzling-fresh off the keyboard.  Like my person-to-person correspondence, I make it all of this up as I go along, like jazz.  Improvisation is a way of life in New Orleans.  I make an excellent pen pal.  Send us a paper letter via the U.S. Postal Service and see what you’ll get in return.

Matthew King c/o

La Belle Esplanade

2216 Esplanade Avenue

New Orleans, LA 70119

United States of America



The most enjoyable part of our day is sharing what we know about New Orleans over breakfast with the guests who are staying with us on any given day.  The second most enjoyable part is checking guests in and seeing their expressions and witnessing their reactions as we go from room to room and walk around the property.  La Belle Esplanade is housed in a colorful historic mansion on a beautiful block of a beautiful New Orleans street. The first impression is a lasting impression and good memories last forever.

Good memories are made on Esplanade Avenue.  The best New Orleans memories are made when you make La Belle Esplanade your New Orleans headquarters.  La Belle Esplanade is not like any other hotel.

One of the many details that make our day enjoyable is answering queries that arrive in our email inbox.  Yes, we have hairdryers in our suites.  Yes, our antique clawfoot tubs are equipped with showerheads.  Yes, it is safe to walk on Esplanade Avenue.  Yes, we love where we live.  Boyoboy do we love where we live!  Frau Schmitt (who is the better half of this operation) and I are blessed to live in this part of New Orleans.


Advanced placement in New Orleans
The sweetest corner in New Orleans

News of flooding a few weeks ago in our fair city, and news of the hurricane that has dumped a record amount of rainfall in Houston this past weekend has prompted a deluge of letters and well wishes in our email inbox recently.  Frau Schmitt and I would like to personally thank everyone who has written to us and expressed their concern.  We’re well.  A tip of my fedora your way.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your concern on our behalf.  All is well.

Just this morning we received a letter from Cathy (not her real name) and after I responded to it, I thought that the whole exchange encapsulated “The La Belle Esplanade Experience (TM).”  I’m not trying to be funny or make light of Cathy’s and mine exchange, or any fondness we have for each other.  When you boil it down to basics, Cathy and Mick (not his real name) were just hotel guests for four nights in May 2016.  A bond between innkeeper and guest was established during that short time.  I’m not going to suggest Cathy and Mick are bestest friends with Frau Schmitt and your humble narrator, nor that we’re on intimate terms with each other.  As she indicates in her letter, “You may not remember us…”  Au contraire.

As Frau Schmitt will tell you, I am terrible with people’s names but I always remember their stories, where they are from, what they do for a living, who they are and why they are visiting New Orleans.  Both Frau Schmitt and I love to share what we know about New Orleans and we tailor our recommendations to what our particular guests may be interested in.  We live in a city with many, many facets.  All of New Orleans is not for everyone on their first visit.  Staying at La Belle Esplanade is advanced placement.  Frau Schmitt and I aren’t on vacation, we live here, but we try to tailor our recommendations to what our guests may or may not be interested in.  You won’t find that at the Marriott or the Sheraton.  You won’t even find that at the Ritz.

I always say that La Belle Esplanade is like the Ritz, if the Ritz were in a beautiful and colorful, quirky historic mansion and run by two people.  You can’t get The La Belle Esplanade Experience (TM) anywhere else.  We haven’t really bothered to trademark it.  It’s impossible to copy the bond between innkeeper and guest that you’ll get at La Belle compared to Holiday Inn, La Quinta, Marriott, Sheraton, Homewood Suites, Motel 6, or, well, even the Ritz.  When was the last time you spoke with the owner of a hotel?  Here at La Belle Esplanade, you’ll do it every day of your stay.

Nothing is off-the-rack at La Belle Esplanade.  We don’t keep a shelf of tourist brochures in our lobby.  We prefer to talk with our guests, get to know them, and then point them in directions we think they’ll find entertaining and enlightening.  There is a whole wide city out here beyond the French Quarter and off the tourist grid.


Wonderful New Orleans
Esplanade Avenue and Treme Street, New Orleans

To whit, and without further ado or suspense, let’s open up the old mailbag and see what it held this morning…

Matthew and Melanie,

“We have been watching the news this month and especially today, thinking about you two and your beautiful, bright spot on Esplanade. You may not remember us, as Mick and I were only with you for a few days. But we remember you both with great fondness. We hope you are safe and that your home and business will survive the latest flooding. 
Warm regards from Seattle,
—Cathy and Mick.”
To which I replied:


“Dear Cathy and Mick,

It’s windy here today, but the sun is shining.  It has rained off and on, more off than on.  Yesterday was the rainiest day of all.  Tomorrow may be more so but I don’t think so.  No one can predict the weather.
Yesterday was the 12th anniversary of Katrina.  New Orleanians hope and pray for the citizens of Houston and the many souls who live along the Texas Gulf Coast.  Here, life goes on as it usually does.  It is August in New Orleans.  We are used to rain every day, at least for a short while.
Two weeks or so ago we had a heavy freak rain storm and it flooded the streets and the neighborhoods around Esplanade Avenue.  Esplanade Avenue is on the high ground, though it’s hard to tell where the high ground is in a city that seems flat as a griddle when you’re walking around.  It’s not like we have any hills here.  The houses along Esplanade Avenue weren’t flooded when the federal levees broke during Hurricane Katrina, though 80% of the rest of the city was flooded.  Esplanade Avenue didn’t flood two weeks ago when we got 10 inches of rain in two hours and many of the city’s storm drains were clogged and its pumps were broken.  In New Orleans, we don’t expect things to work the way they are supposed to.  Every day is filled with minor inconveniences as well as small-scale miracles.
My mother and nephew were in town for the big flood night.  We walked up the street in the rain and had dinner at Santa Fe.  We dined outside because the rain was on again-off-again.  When we walked home, everyone we passed was in a good mood, telling us which streets were impassable (we were just sticking to a straight line along Esplanade Avenue, anyway) and we shared news and good wishes.  We said to each other, “Stay dry!” even when it the sky was pouring buckets on us.
It’s funny, in New Orleans, situations take on a different perspective.  We aren’t particularly affected by the news on TV so much as the news as we find it on the street.  We had some guests cancel their reservation with us,  they were supposed to check in today, because of the rain.  Melanie and I had lunch today at a Lebanese restaurant on Banks Street.  We sat on the patio in front of the restaurant, enjoying the breeze.  Then, I took my scooter down to the French Quarter for a haircut.  Hardly the stuff of tragedy and not anything that would make headlines.  Those guests missed out on a beautiful day.
People send me flood maps of New Orleans before they make a reservation to ask what I think will happen next year.  I can’t predict tomorrow let alone next year.  All I can say is that every day in New Orleans is a blessing for us.  A bad day in New Orleans is still better than a good day of fishing, in my opinion.
Thank you very much for your good wishes.  We’re grateful for them.  We offer the same right back to you.  It’s like people saying they couldn’t take the rain in Seattle.  Sure, it’s not picnic weather, but it’s never like Houston this weekend in Seattle.
La Belle Esplanade remains a bright spot in this wonderful city we call home, especially to Melanie and I.  I have to admit, I didn’t remember your name when it popped up in our inbox, but I did remember your face from the tiny picture that Gmail appended to your letter, and that brought back the good conversations we had.  Melanie and I are blessed to have good guests that choose to stay with us.  We thank our lucky stars.  Thank you for choosing to make La Belle your headquarters while you were here.
Thanks for writing, Cathy.  It is always nice to learn that we’ve made an impression on our guests’ good memories.  There are more good memories left to be made.  When’s the next time you’ll visit New Orleans?  There is always more to explore and discover here.  It really is like no place else.  Two years away from New Orleans is too long.  When you’re ready, hopefully sooner rather than later, you know where to find us.  Until then…
With a handshake,
Matthew (& Melanie)


And that just about wraps it up, except—

À votre santé,

La Belle Esplanade

Where every day is a brighter tomorrow and it all starts off with a curated breakfast salon of good food and good conversation.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017:  The sun is out.  It’s a good day in New Orleans.   Being in New Orleans is its own reward.