Thursday, March 8, 2012

New Orleans Trip #8: Lodgings

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Tourists mostly stay in the big hotels at the south end of French Quarter, which is noisy, dirty, and overrun with tourists and drunks. Rooms there are generic and expensive. The better area is at the Quarter's northern edge, bordering on the Marigny. There are no hotels thereabouts, but plenty of B&Bs, and they are leave-you-the-heck-alone B&Bs (diligence not being one of the local fortes, anyway), so they amount to rented apartments more than a room in someone's quaint house.

After much research, I settled on Banana Courtyard B&B, which is in a quiet, residential, charming, tree-lined street that's an easy walk from the main interests (the Quarter, and Frenchman Street for music), and a manageable walk from everything else (Treme, up-and-coming hipster-rife Warehouse District, Downtown).

Banana Courtyard's web site (and their emails...and the many files they sent me) are like Dr. Bronner labels, crammed with non-linear compulsive musings and disjointed details. I like that. And their accommodations are well-reviewed online, and reasonably priced. Unfortunately, they were sold out, but offered, instead, nearby Camelback Townhouse, a property they manage for friends.

A camelback is a two story narrow house, with the second story receded back (legend has it that this is to escape the higher tax assessment of a second floor flush with the curb). Here is Camelback Townhouse's web page - abandon hope all ye who enter here. In addition to giving little actual information, the photos (e.g. the one I stole, above) don't do justice to the place, and include some features not actually there, e.g. the mosquito netting over the bed.

But it was awesome. Charming front parlor (with sleeper sofa), full kitchen and half bathroom, upstairs bedroom and shower/bath, and a lush private garden out back. No obnoxious drunken tourists anywhere to be seen. Quiet. Good vibe. And it's $140/night, including all taxes and charges. Minimum booking is three nights, and there's no maid service.

It's only reasonably clean, sheets and towels are fairly cheap and the hot water is mis-set to about 190 degrees (bring aloe vera gel for the burns). The tissue box held exactly one tissue, and I had no reason to think a new one would be forthcoming. Or new toilet paper. Or anything else, really, given that during my brief orientation meeting with the owner - a charming woman of a certain age named Angela, who, dressed to a "T", handed me a business card, and, when I asked "Is this the number to call if there are problems?', bristled, and replied "Honey, I hope there's no problems."

Got it, loud and clear. "Breakfast" consisted of a couple of iffy pastries and some cloying juice left in the fridge on the first day, never to be repeated. But the place? The vibe? The nabe? The price? Man, this was a score!

It's also booked up nearly always (I was very lucky). So if I can't get it nnext trip, I may resort back to Banana Courtyard. But a warning about them. As I said, they inundate you with prose - a profusion of quirky, wonderful, opinionated, messy, disorganized emails, web pages, and files about their rules, policies, philosophies, tips, and suggestions on every facet of your stay. Yet they have trouble remembering when, exactly, you told them you'd be arriving, or leaving, and what your name is, and other stuff like that. They don't read emails or really listen on the phone, and the various people in charge seem not to share information with each other. They all just sort of broadcast characterfully. Which, I'm starting to see, is not uncommon around here...

Read the next installment (#9)

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