Our 23-Hour Staycation
An adventure in local tourism
Jennifer Gibson Schecter was once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home. She also writes the Wednesday Tourism Blog on BizNewOrleans.com.
Between work projects and summer camp schedules, tightening budgets and the school year seeming to get longer and longer, it can be a real challenge to take a vacation. Yet scientists and therapists agree that time away is necessary for stress reduction and happy marriages. The answer? A staycation!
My husband and I recently seized the day (and night) and embarked on a treacherous journey down Tchoupitoulas Street, throwing caution to the wind as we traveled the five miles of perilous roadway from our house to our temporary abode at The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery.
The hotel has a well-deserved spot on multiple “Top” and “Best of” lists. In 2017, it earned No. 1 New Orleans Hotel in the Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards. As of mid-June, the hotel was nominated again for 2018 and voting was underway.
The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery is a boutique hotel that features dreamy design elements that celebrate the building’s history as an 1854 coffee warehouse turned chandlery, or general supply store.
We were able to check in at 2 p.m. (two hours early), and after exploring the rotating art exhibit on the first floor, we settled into our room. Armed with our New Orleans Public Library books and whiskey we brought from home, we lounged in the quiet of our room and actually relaxed.
Then it was time to get all dolled up. On the advice of an extremely helpful hotel staff, we had made an early dinner reservation at Compère Lapin. The restaurant is located on the first floor of the hotel and is led by Chef Nina Compton, recipient of the 2018 James Beard Award for Best Chef: South. Compère Lapin has a lovely sentiment on its website regarding its philosophy: “Meals are about moments, memories and those who surround you at your table.” My husband and I will cherish our memory of that exquisite meal.
We always order to share everything in a practice of romantic frugality. From the herbed biscuits with two compound butters, to the cold smoked tuna tartare, to the jerk black drum and black-eyed peas, the food, service and atmosphere were all perfection.
Then it was time to walk it all off. Leaving the Warehouse District we headed toward the French Quarter and happened to catch this year’s Pride parade on Canal Street like true tourists. Our fellow spectators seemed bemused that I kept running out into the street to hug friends as they paraded by, and they were astonished when I scored a can of beer as a “throw.”
After the parade we went to our favorite bar, the Erin Rose. A round of drinks and $5 in the juke box (a real one, not one of those awful internet ones) was time well spent. The siren song of Lady Luck was calling our names, so we left the bar and walked to Harrah’s Casino.
When my husband and I get really wild and crazy, you can typically find us at the video poker bar. For a few bucks of gambling, you can drink a nightcap for free and maybe even win a little. Thinking ahead, I also asked our bartender for those little bottles of water they give the really drunk guests so we would have water to drink at the hotel in the morning — no honor bar charges here!
The walk back to the hotel was easy and we both slept incredibly well. Our morning was showers, check-out, then brunch at Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant. Did you know Lucy’s does brunch? We didn’t until we walked by. My husband pretended he was back in college and ordered “Brunchos,” an a.m. take on nachos that had the typical fare but also had eggs and bacon atop the chips. I’m a basic breakfast fan and went the eggs-bacon-and-biscuit route.
Needing to buy a wedding present for friends, we stopped in at St. James Cheese Co. after brunch and picked up some fancy condiments and spreads. Then our chauffeur, my stepmother/babysitter extraordinaire, picked us up and we made the long journey back up Tchoupitoulas Street where dirty dishes and dirty laundry awaited our attention. Our 23-hour staycation had officially ended…(sigh).