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Trip Report New Orleans trip report: gumbo, pralines, and maybe Brad Pitt?

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I'm finally getting around to writing this trip report from visiting New Orleans with my husband three months ago. New Orleans had been on our 'maybe list' for the longest time and now having returned, we wondered what took us so long to visit. We had a great time, especially eating!! We ate tons of gumbo and bread pudding. I sampled all kinds of pralines, plus bought boxes and boxes to take home.
Also, the weather was absolutely perfect when we went in mid-March. It was sunny and warm, but not very humid yet.

From the moment we arrived at the airport, New Orleans was hopping. We planned right away on taking a taxi to the hotel and found ourselves in a very long taxi line that wrapped around from one terminal exit door to another. The line was eventually split into two which made things go faster, and when we got into our cab, even the driver was commenting on how busy it was. He thought it was because there were a couple of conventions that week, plus many families were in town because their kids were on spring break. Throughout the rest of our trip, we kept hearing the same reasoning from other locals. I was surprised at how many families with younger kids were there. I always thought of New Orleans as more of a party town where you wouldn't go with your kids, but even on Bourbon Street there were plenty of kids.

Now here are my reviews of our hotel, food choices, and activities:

Hotel:
Omni Royal Orleans
http://www.omnihotels.com/FindAHotel/NewOrleansRoyalOrleans.aspx

We originally were looking at reserving a room at the Ritz Carlton but they were sold out, so we made a reservation at the Iberville Suites. After reading some things about the location and safety (it being on the edge of the FQ 'safe zone'), I was a bit worried so we decided to change hotels. We cancelled the Iberville Suites reservation and booked the Omni Royal Orleans instead. Once we got to New Orleans, we were very happy about the hotel's location since it was so central to everything in the French Quarter.

As for safety, I can only talk about the streets within the FQ during the daytime and at night after dinners (no later than midnight) ... we never walked anywhere outside the FQ and felt safe the entire time. The streets were always crowded and there were plenty of police officers roaming around. The first night we arrived, we also asked the hotel concierge for advice and he highlighted on the map where not to venture to.

Side note about trying to cancel the Iberville Suites: what a pain it was. I wanted to make sure I was clear on the cancellation policy before actually canceling it so I called instead of canceling it online. There's a toll-free phone number for reservations that routed me to their off-shore call center that handles other hotels, as well. The agent wasn't knowledgeable at all about the hotel's policy and it even took a while before he could pull up my reservation on the computer. I must've been on hold for 10 minutes while he tried to figure out the cancellation policy. At one point I hung up and called again hoping to talk to someone else, only to get the same agent, which leads me to believe they only had that one. Finally he gave me the information I needed but I decided to call the hotel's phone number directly to cancel since I didn't feel confident that he would do it properly.

Back to the Omni: While the hotel was clean and service was fine, you're definitely paying a premium for its location, as the rooms are tiny. There was barely enough space to lay out the suitcase rack anywhere and be able to walk around it. The bathroom had a pedestal sink so there was no counter space at all for toiletries. We'd probably still stay here again if we returned to New Orleans, but we'd seriously consider paying a bit more for one of their larger rooms so we could have more space.

Again, the location was excellent ... we had dinner reservations at K-Paul's and Brennan's so on those nights it took us about 3 minutes to walk from our room to the restaurants. I believe K-Paul's even has their patrons park their cars in the Omni Royal's parking garage for validation (although we often saw a sign at the garage entrance indicating it was full and only available for hotel guests).


More to come ...

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