We arrived late into New Orleans. After waiting at baggage claim (I had to check a bag because a 6 day work trip required a couple suits and sport coats, unfortunately) for about 30 minutes, we hopped in a cab and were headed downtown.
The ride was about 25 minutes and we pulled into the port cochere and were greeted by several valets who were quick to help us with our bags. The entrance is quite grand, with two sets of huge double doors. These automatic doors swing out (watch out – don’t get hit!) and welcome you into this recently renovated property.
The Le Méridien New Orleans was the W New Orleans before the reno and rebranding. I never stayed at the W New Orleans, but I did swing by for a drink and a meal during my first visit. I’m not cool enough for the W hotel, that’s for sure.
Before we fully entered the lobby I was struck in the face with a smell that is unique and draws so many memories back. The smell makes me think of Cambodia. In general, that wouldn’t be a good thing, but after about 5 seconds, it all clicked. The first Le Méridien I visited was in Siem Reap Cambodia. It wasn’t a bad smell at all, it was the LM Signature Scent. It was welcoming, relaxing and reminded me of a great vacation.
No one was in front of us at check-in (we arrived near 23h00). The young woman who helped us, I believe was called Elisa, informed me that we were upgraded to a higher floor room and no Platinum Suite Upgrades were available – because it was JazzFest and if I come down on Sunday afternoon they can move me into a Suite. I didn’t buy it. JazzFest was slowing down during the week, but 12,000 insurance people were descending on the City that same day. We shall see.
We were given a room on the 23rd Floor, which was fine. It was clean, it had an enormous TV on the wall, the bathroom was spacious and most importantly, the rooms had been updated. The rooms still looked a little rough, but not at all like it had been a W in it’s previous life.
That first night, after we dropped our bags off in the room, we head down to the bar for a quick drink. The bar was packed – full of JazzFesters and Insurance Yahoos (me being the latter). It had been a long work day and a slightly delayed flight. I was tired. I drank a local beer, Abita, and headed off to bed.
Two days later, Sunday, I called down to the front desk to inquire about our Sunday afternoon room upgrade. As I suspected, no upgrades were available. I mentioned that Elisa thought she’d get me into one. Go dice. The GM called me back shortly thereafter apologizing for the miscommunication. Honestly, it didn’t matter to me. New Orleans is like Las Vegas, New York and Paris to me: I need a safe room that is clean, quiet with a bathroom with hot water and good water pressure. I have no intention of spending a lot of time in the room. They did offer to upgrade me to a suite on my final night. Better than nothing, I guess.
I grabbed rooms service (which something I never do) twice on this trip. Once for breakfast and once for lunch. I had some work to do, and I wanted the quietness of the room. Even though one meal was at breakfast time, I was able to talk them into making me a lunchtime quesadilla. It was good, but way too much food and it needed some more guac. Don’t trust a hotel with a French name to properly make a pico de gallo / salsa – just dreadful. The next day for proper lunch, I had the make your own flat bread – I included tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, Canadian Bacon, pineapple and goat cheese. It wasn’t a flat bread. It was a big square pizza – way more than one person needs for lunch. But I ate it – and really was digging it. #oink.
On Wednesday, I moved to my new room…after some persuading. The front desk sent up Carl to help me pack my room and escort me to the new room. Carl was very helpful (although I didn’t need any help really), he loaded my suitcase up and walked me to the new suite on the 5th floor (vs. the standard room on the 21st floor). He then proceeded to show me around the room. He gave me the $10 tour – everything in painstaking detail. He showed me the bed; the bathroom; the powder room, the living room the various mini-fidges. Carl was extremely excited about 2 fridges in the room – according to him, you can “put anything in these….I mean anything” I actually don’t know what he meant, and I’m a little afraid that he would show me, if I asked. I let it go.
The suite was basically two standard rooms with an additional powder room in the entry. As you walk in, the power room greets you.
You turn right and enter the bedroom which is identical to the room I had for the first 5 nights. I had a desk, an enormous TV and a king size bed. Unlike the first room, the sheets on this bed weren’t ripped (gross).
Back to the main entry way and instead of turning right, you turn left and you see an equivalent room, but without a bed. It had a comfortable sofa, a small round dining style table and again, an enormous TV on a swing-out-wall-mount.
I spent about 2 hours in this living room area on Wednesday, between meetings and catching up on work. It was night to have a separate area for work – and it would have been even nicer to have this area when there were two of us in the room.
I checked out around noon on Thursday and stowed my luggage with the front desk folks, as our flight was delayed and we hadn’t had lunch yet. I hate lugging luggage around. Interestingly enough, my past 3 Starwood Stays, my folio has never made it to me, I have to call back and have them re-email it to me. The process takes about 45 seconds, so it isn’t a big deal, but it is a bit of a pain in the neck. I don’t know what happened to the SPG system so that it doesn’t automatically kick it out to me any more.
All in all, I dig the Le Méridien New Orleans. It is centrally located – close walk to the convention center, the casino (laissez les bon temps roulez), Canal Street, the French Quarter and the Warehouse District. I got anywhere I needed to go by foot or a cheap taxi or the newly introduced Uber. I would absolutely stay here again. The service was great – but not over the top, in your face. The staff was helpful and not aloof (like those W people are). I didn’t try the restaurant or the gym or any other services they offer (other than the bar and room service) though. Give the Le Méridien New Orleans a shot next time you are in the area – I know I will return.