I’M the kind of woman that has always loved a good hotel. An intimate ambiance plus elite service has always been a major turn on for me, even as a young girl; yet, my lifestyle, since college graduation, has been focused on professional development and working as an accountant. About three years ago my labors shifted to an uncomfortable, but productive pursuit of personal growth that revealed that I have commitment issues with relaxing on my own terms (meaning adequate finances and chillin’ without guilt). Then, a sweet friend, with similar terms, encouraged me to follow through on one of our many talks about going to the Essence Festival in New Orleans, and I did!
I flew via Delta Airlines from the Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) to the Louis Armstrong Airport (MSY) for the first time on June 30, 2016. After landing in New Orleans, my friend and I linked up and split a $36 cab to the 3.5 star St. James Ascend Boutique Hotel located in the Central Business District and 1 mile from the historic French Quarter where we received a warm, southern welcome from our bellman; unlike any other check-in I’d ever experienced before, the receptionist sat behind a bare brown desk in the bright and elegant lobby. At first glance, room 404 was not the modern and posh designed space that we expected; we were hesitant about our 3 night stay because it seemed old and the wooden ceilings resembled a cabin; wood typically attracts mosquitoes, dust, and has a pine like scent. We just knew that our friend with the greatest affinity for superior services would totally object to it when she joined us, but either way, it was non-refundable; so, we got dressed to impress for an all white boat party. As we navigated through the humid days and late nights in the Big Easy, room 404 became a place of refuge, laughter, and design.
After a sophisticated boat ride and long night on Bourbon Street, we started our day dining at the Oceana Grille on Conti Street for brunch, where I devoured Cajun Jambalaya pasta with alligator sausage and local crab cakes. As a southern girl, pasta and sweet tea are my favorites, but it was my first time ever eating alligator. I would describe it as very tender meat with a chicken flavor. In addition, my crab cakes were huge with authentic Cajun seasonings and covered in mushroom cream sauce! Next, we hailed a cab to the convention center to experience the free information sessions. To our surprise, we were extras in an upcoming film that is set to debut in summer 2017, featuring Queen Latifah and Regina Hall. Furthermore, I’ll admit that I don’t watch The Real, but I thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the audience during their live taping, as well. We spent the rest of our evening shopping with organic skincare, fashion, and food vendors on the streets of the French Quarter and Central Business District. Local residents advised us to “be careful” during our late night cab ride to the 7th ward for what turned out to be more of an ole-skool party with the locals at Zulus. Once again, we found rest in room 404 from New Orleans’ oppressive heat, where we relaxed in silence and then, talked about how we liked the antique mirrors and brick wall. We let our guards down a little more and slept comfortably on the “cushy” beds with ample pillows. Personally, I was disappointed that room service was not granted, unless requested.
At this point, we stopped complaining and embraced the dark hardwood flooring and West Indies inspired orange, white, and green bedding color scheme. Curling irons and cosmetics covered the desks and marble bathroom counters, as if we had officially moved in; the rooms were large enough for 3 feminine women with luggage, shoes, and seductive dresses. I requested the complimentary European style breakfast of croissants, preserves, and orange juice for our room (they were so warm and flaky!)
Our last day mimicked day 2 with seafood at the Redfish Grille on Bourbon Street, where we ate delicious fried oysters and shrimp and grits with bacon. My grits were creamy, but I am still unsure of what I didn’t like about that dish. Next, we rushed back to the sessions to be inspired by Misty Copeland, Dr. Steve Perry, and the cast of OWN’s new series, Queen Sugar. Our last Cajun meal together was at the historical, cafeteria style Mothers Restaurant on Poydras Street. Finally, I opted for a relaxing evening in front of our flat screen TV, while the ladies enjoyed a night out on the town. Like any sophisticated hotel, the receptionist scheduled a cab to transport me back to the airport at 5:15 am for my 7am flight.
Always one to appreciate a good hotel, I can say that I enjoyed my stay at the St. James Ascend Boutique Hotel. During my early morning ride to the airport, I reflected on my experiences with the cuisine, local residents, and hospitality and concluded that I felt right at home and I may be set free and delivered from my commitment issues. I am a sophisticated, yet down to earth individual that learned to embrace the sophisticated, but down to earth hospitality and spirit of New Orleans………Bey~Bey,