When I have stayed here before, the Cottages were connected with the Maison de Ville. Now they are operated by something called the New Orleans Hotel Group. When I have stayed here before I stayed in Cottage #5 or #6. This trip was my first time in Cottage #7. Previously I could not have asked for better service in a secluded, relaxing, private cocoon of restfulness.
That was then... This is now... We arrived on Tuesday, March 19th, departed Saturday, March 23rd. I believe we arrived at the same time as the couple in a previous review who stayed in Cottage #6. There was much drama about those missing keys to their cottage, to the extent that the bellman & the butler would get us 3 or 4 steps down the street with our bags, then be distracted back to the key situation, then off we'd go again, then stop, the start, then stop...
But first, the good... History, beauty, lovely furnishings, historic gorgeous grounds... This place is a hidden jewel in the French Quarter. Like a geode, unassuming & plain on the outside, filled with astonishingly breath-taking crystals on the inside! Recently renovated baths, walk in showers & dual flush toilets (always good to conserve). Frig & ice maker in the room, restocked complimentary beverages each day. Free WiFi. Huge tall ceilings, original exposed brick walls & beams. Just what you think of when you think of a lovingly restored centuries old New Orleans cottage. Plus! An actual OPERATIONAL thermostat on the wall. When you turn it down, miracle of miracles, things get COLDER!!! No room occupancy sensors that return the room to 80°F when you are absent. Plus! Ceiling fans in the room! What a delightful relief.
But alas… this stay at The Cottages also brought many disappointments.
1. Supposed to have a "semi-private walled courtyard with fountain" shared with one other cottage. Shared with 1 other cottage, yes... but... the courtyard also had a "service entrance" and a "storage area" contained within it (unlike Cottages #5 and #6 which share a courtyard but do not contain service entrances & storage areas). The service entrance opened onto the street & was left open almost constantly while maintenance workers trouped back & forth through the courtyard ALL day long. The storage area turned out to be the housekeeping cart storage. By midday the housekeepers had amassed the linen from all 7 cottages contained in 10 or 12 clear plastic laundry bags, all stacked on the ground at one end of the courtyard, along with a couple of housekeeping carts. The housekeepers congregated in the end of the courtyard chattering among themselves or with the construction workers as they traversed the courtyard. The Cottages 'butlers' also came and went through the service entrance taking a path through our courtyard to deliver breakfast to other cottages when they could have used the main entrance and disturbed no one. We had breakfast delivered at 9:00am, but the used dishes and remnants of breakfast were often still on the table in the early afternoon. All this traffic made us feel like an interlopers if we tried to sit in the courtyard, resulting in us not using the area at all. This courtyard is the primary reason for choosing this property in the first place, but when you feel like you are invading the break room for the hotel staff & maintenance department when you attempt to use it, you quickly retreat to the confines of your room and close the door.
2. On previous stays, breakfast was coffee, juice & a basket of FRESH croissants & pastries. This breakfast was a fruit plate, most of which was not quite ripe melon & strawberries plus a banana, some pastries which were of the quality you might purchase at Sam's Club or GFS, and a few of the single serve sizes of Post Cereals. Breaks my heart to say it, but it was the sort of thing you might find on the breakfast bar at Shoney’s. So sad in a town with such a great food culture.
3. Each cottage has a "butler" who is there to, well, be a BUTLER... Purportedly from 7am to 7pm. First day ours left at 5pm. The only request we made was heavy cream for our coffee. There does not exist a kitchen in New Orleans that does not contain a quart of heavy cream, but this girl was flummoxed. To ask the kitchen to pour a little cream into a glass and bring it along was WAY outside the box for her. The best she could do was to say she'd "see what she could do". Seems that what she could do was a repeat of the handful of little plastic containers of half & half, which had comprised the initial offering, which was what prompted my request for the heavy cream, so I'm wondering if she bothered to ask the kitchen for anything that wasn't already sitting on the saran wrap covered tray marked "Cottage 7" in the first place. Finally obtained heavy cream from a wonderful waiter at NOLA who poured me a to-go cup full, put a lid on it and charged us nothing for his trouble.
3. The bed was hard as a rock. Decent (not great) pillows, lovely linen… but hard.
4. We left on a Saturday. Apparently our butler was a M-F girl. On Saturday we planned to enjoy our breakfast, then catch a cab and get to the airport in a leisurely fashion. Since our M-F butler was not there on Saturday morning, and we had not assumed the responsibility of calling the main desk to tell them we still wished breakfast at the same time on Saturday, our Saturday butler decided we didn't want any. As we were leaving the cottage with our bags he came over from where he had been chatting up the housekeepers in the corner of our semi-private courtyard and wondered if we might not like some coffee.
5. Under the heading of just not having a grip on the environment, the bellman thought it would be a good idea for us to take a rickshaw type bicycle-cab to a restaurant 3 miles away on Canal Street, which is a 6 lane divided, very busy street packed with buses, cars and trolleys... Seriously?
6. You can pay $350 to $1000 per night for a stay at the Audubon Cottages, and it ought to be worth it. Has been worth it in the past. Now... not so much. Considering we were deprived of the enjoyment of the courtyard by the presence of dirty dishes, piles of dirty laundry & throngs of service personnel, had only one request of the butler which seemed to go unaddressed, could have, and did, in fact obtain fresher pastries at the corner grocery, it certainly was not worth what we paid. We would have been much better off with room service at the Omni Royal.
7. One last thing... Not that we could have ever occupied the courtyard to enjoy it, but the fountain didn't work. I'm not sayin'.... I'm just sayin'... And that's all I'm sayin'...
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Audubon Cottages are a local treasure, full of history, character and charm that evoke the feeling of old New Orleans. Once home to John James Audubon, each of the seven one or two bedroom suites is unique and offers a private or shared courtyard. Complimentary French Quarter butler service, continental breakfast & WiFi is included. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Audubon Cottages Hotel New Orleans