by Jayme Lamm

Maybe I’m finally growing up, but I used to live under the guise that the hotel you stayed in didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of all things vacation – especially when visiting a city like New Orleans. Why? Because you’ll spend 90% of your time on Bourbon Street rather than inside your little hotel room too worried you’re going to miss a beat. A literal beat, in the form of an impromptu jazz concert or some girl flashing for beads.

Thanks to a recent media visit arranged by Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans, I was once again proven wrong and that the room does in fact make a difference. This classic hotel dates back to 1967 and has since become a landmark French Quarter hotel, which in Bourbon Street speak meant it is easy to find my way back.

As soon as I walked into the chandelier-lit lobby of the Royal Sonesta set immediately on the infamous Bourbon Street, a whole new feeling took over. The kind where all of a sudden, no matter how many hurricanes or Crown and Cokes I had, I felt safe and even slightly classy. I know, weird right? Who even knew such a bumping piece of real estate amidst the shenanigans of Bourbon Street actually existed in the Big Easy?

Not to mention it’s downright amazing how much cultural diversity can change within a swift 317 miles from downtown Houston straight into the crescent city of New Orleans.

The best part about the Royal Sonesta was getting to see Grammy Award-winning Jazz trumpeter and Bandleader Irvin Mayfield and the rest of his band up close and personal in a Robert Redford/Michelle Pfeiffer kind of way at the famed Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse which is an intimate jazz club located just inside the hotel lobby. With spots like this, it’s no wonder Travel + Leisure recently selected New Orleans as the #1 place to hear “Live Music,” nor is it any wonder the city boasts such a high ranking as one of the most culturally diverse and romantic cities across the US.

Visiting the Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse was the jump start I needed to kick off the authentic New Orleans music experience with light bites and numerous champagne choices to select from. In case you need even more convincing, Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown voted Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse the “Number One Pick in the Big Easy,” and it’s easy to see why. With small, intimate tables gathered together in close proximity and lights so dim you have to feel around for your drinks, it’s definitely a foreshadowing of things to come with your hot date.

As for the rooms, they were plenty spacious for my nightly passing out routine after all the drinks and walking around I did day and night throughout the city grid. They even managed to stuff a tiny-tiny gym into an old hotel room (located on the 3rd floor), which motivated me just long enough to sweat out approximately 1⁄4 of the toxins lingering through my body.

Thankfully as a much-needed boost and wake-up call (read hangover remedy), PJ’s Coffee Café was located in the lobby serving fresh New Orleanians roasted coffee and bakery options and the Desire Bistro & Oyster Bar offered up healthy portions for breakfast, lunch and dinner providing enough sustenance to continue my antics for some 24 hours on end. The hotel staff was courteous enough to offer suggestions (and directions) to a different set of authentically delicious beignets each and every morning as well, which is a huge part of the New Orleans experience for anyone with a ravenous sweet tooth.

My suggestion next time you hit up a thriving city like New Orleans, don’t skimp on the hotel options. Studies show (as in my own studies with my own deeply tormented body) that a good night’s sleep in a comfortable and historically classic hotel really does help ease your hangover. Choose from any one of their 483 guest rooms, some of which offer a vibrant view of the daily on-goings of the French Quarter life.

Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans | 300 Bourbon Street New Orleans, LA 70130 | 504.586.0300