Impressionable Fest Quest
Some special last-minute NOLA Jazz Fest accommodations deals just for our readers.
By Kate X Messer,
11:46PM, Sun. Apr. 20, 2008
Pulling together an 11th hour trip to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, makes scoring the elusive (yet still available) last-minute deal so much sweeter. Like Mint Julep sweeter. I'll be blogging throughout, hot on the trail of some Austin artist and/or artists, and would be thrilled if you'd join me here and read along. What? You wanna actually go? Well, once you figure out how to get there (roadtrip ), you'll need a place to rest your head: Read on for recommendations and discounts.
The Degas House Courtyard & Inn, the closest B&B to the New Orleans Fairgrounds, the site of Jazz Fest, has availabilities for First Weekend (which is this weekend, Thursday, April 24 - Sunday, April 27). The convenience to the grounds is unparalleled, being the only B&B in walking distance. In addition, the breakfast is home-cooked with Southern TLC, the parking free and easy, and you get the bonus of a free tour through some lovely historic digs.
Historic? Oh, yes. Tuck yourself into this history: Degas House is the only remaining studio site on the planet – which one may visit – where the Impressionist painter (oh, that Degas) created his marvels. The inn on Esplanade – which Frommer's calls the "grand avenue of New Orleans' Creole society" – was the home of the painter's maternal relatives, the Musson family, where Degas lived and worked in 1872-73.
Dig just past the French Quarter to the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood, home to Frenchmen Street, the locus for the best and most accessible after-the-fest nightlife – unless you somehow squeeze into Tip's or happen upon some rager of a house party in the fairgrounds neighborhood. All told, the Marigny is your best post-Fest bet (and those are not casual, off-hand kudos). It's also the home of The Frenchmen Hotel, within stumbling distance to some of the city's best pubs, restaurants, and music hot spots. Manager Joe says the second weekend is packed, but if you come in the first weekend, call and ask for him and he may be able to squeak you into a spot.
Also in the Marigny is the Bohemian Armadillo, run by part-time Austinite and Jazz Fest honcho Rachel Ornelas. Think of Rachel as the "heritage" part of the fest, as she wrangles the Native American Village. Rachel spends most of her time Keepin' NOLA Austin weird, offering cozy nights in a Creole cottage definitely kissed with violet crown flair. Magical things happen in that Bordello Room. Sadly, this perfect home away from home for proud Texans is booked for Jazz Fest waaaaaaaay in advance, but, hey, there's always next year. And if you are in New Orleans between the fest weekends and need a place, she might be able to help you out.
On the higher luxury end and in the heart of the quarter on Rue Royale, the Hotel Monteleone is not only home to the legendary cocktail mecca, the Carousel Bar (actually built on a rotating antique carousel) but is a generational heirloom run by the same family since 1886. One step through the massive double doors of brass and glass and you'll understand why this landmark earns its nickname as "New Orleans' timeless address." Even if you don't end up there, check out the Carousel and consider their elegantly lazy Southern brunch. Currently, there are a few remaining availabilities for both weekends.
And for the budget minded, we hear the noble India House Hostel still has dorm space available for first weekend. It is located but 10 minutes from the festival. I had a great time staying in the Cajun Love Shack private room back in '04. Sadly, my stay did nothing to further the amorous reputation of the flat, but I had a blast hanging out talking and breaking bread with fellow travelers. Like Austin, New Orleans is that kind of town.