We recently attended a large convention in New Orleans, spending 5 nights at the Drury. I had booked the hotel on my own, even though our group had convention rates at many hotels, but not the Drury. We briefly considered some posher places such as the Windsor Court (beautiful hotel, stayed there previously) and the Roosevelt Waldorf Astoria, but ultimately chose the Drury because I knew it would have exactly what I wanted and expected for this trip. Namely, that was: a free hot breakfast served early before rushing off to the convention center, free cocktails and nibbles upon return in the early evening before leaving again for dinner, and free wifi. For this trip, we did not need to be pampered with spa treatments or gourmet on-site dining.
We had been introduced to the Drury brand at another convention in San Antonio a few years ago. It is a mid-level brand, nothing fancy, that offers a lot of cluck for your buck. The freebies mentioned above are offered at every Drury, plus free long distance and local calls, free soft drinks and popcorn in the afternoon, a pool, free 24-hour business center, and flat screen TVs with HBO.
The NOLA Drury is located in the Central Business District on the corner of Poydras St. and Carondelet St. About 5 blocks east is Canal St., the western edge of the French Quarter. Carondolet actually turns into Bourbon St., the hub of debauchery in the Quarter. The St. Charles Streetcar actually runs east on Carondolet before turning on Canal and heading back west on St. Charles St. one block south. The Mississippi River and Harrah's Casino are within walking distance south; the convention center is a bit of a stretch to walk to.
The hotel was formerly an office building and the rooms retain the building's windows and high ceilings on most floors. The lobby and dining area occupy the ground floor, and there is additional dining space downstairs. The dining area is rather small; the hotel is in the midst of a major expansion (expected completion 3/14) that will add about 60 more rooms, plus a larger dining area, on-site parking, and meeting space. There is a small rooftop pool and hot tub. Front desk service was quite friendly. The only other lobby level personnel are the valets and dining staff. There are no bellboys--I saw many a guest shlepping their own luggage on those rolling carts bellboys use. The front desk will store your luggage, however. Taxis do not regularly line up in front of the hotel, but the valet can whistle one down for you, or the desk can prearrange a taxi to the airport (flat rate fee).
Our room was a king on the 3rd floor. It had very high ceilings, and 2 large windows overlooking Poydras. The sink's counter area was small, but it was separate from the tub/shower and commode. The shower had dispensers for bath gel, shampoo and conditioner, like at a gym. The closet's hangers were the kind you can't remove from the rod. The bedside clock radio had 5 preset and prelabeled stations, nothing else, and some of the labels were wrong (the "soft rock" station was actually a Spanish language station). What I missed most in the room was a safe; turndown service, stationery, newspaper delivery, robes and slippers were not offered but also not expected. While many hotels stay green by changing linens every other day, the Drury waits 4 days before changing them. The room did have 2 phones, a desk that could roll around, and many electrical outlets.
"Quikstart" breakfast offerings were the same daily. Hot foods included scrambled eggs, potatoes, oatmeal, sausage patties, biscuits, gravy, plus make-your-own Belgian waffles. Also available were muffins and donuts similar to store-bought, breads and bagels to toast, cold cereals, yogurt, fresh whole fruits, orange and apple juices. I think most of the food is pre-cooked and frozen; the eggs taste the freshest. Even the "butter" for the waffles is called "whipped spread" and the syrup has virtually no maple flavour, but I'm not complaining, just observing.
The 5:30 Kickback menu rotated every other day. Italian meatballs and penne pasta with marinara alternating with chicken strips and mac & cheese. Soups alternated between broccoli cheddar, minestrone, and chili. Offered everyday were hot dogs and baked potatoes, served with the same "whipped spread" and REAL sour cream (by Daisy!). Also offered every day were salad greens, carrot and celery sticks, pretzels, potato chips, tortilla chips and fixings for nachos (cheese sauce, jalapenos, salsa).
Every adult guest gets a card for 3 free alcoholic beverages nightly. Nothing fancy, no mixologist required, but free and served with a smile.
I must confess, 2 days were fatigued enough to make the Kickback our supper and didn't go out later on.
This stay reconfirmed my fondness for the Drury brand. Sometimes we like to splurge and be coddled, but the Drury can be the right fit for certain types of vacations. The Dury is the opposite of "the more you pay, the less you get".