Review: Le Pavillon Hotel, New Orleans

Grand Entrance

Le Pavillon may be the “Belle of New Orleans,” but she’s an aging beauty. She hasn’t reached Miss Havisham levels, but she could definitely play an excellent Blanche Dubois on Broadway.

Which isn’t to say Blanche doesn’t have her charms. The hotel is celebrating 100 Years this year, and the grand entrance and perpetually-booked-for-weddings ballroom/dining room are dripping with chandeliers, heavy fabric and imported marble.  If you are a fan of old school sumptuous decor, look no farther.

Dining room

We booked a deluxe king on the 8th floor that while cozy (read: small but comfy), did have some issues. If you are someone who can have their whole vacation ruined by little imperfections, then you’ll probably not want to stay at Le Pavillon. The ceiling in our bathroom was peeling, there was a gaping hole behind the toilet where part of the wall had been cut out, the bottom of the bed’s dust ruffles were pilly and ragged, the mattress had seen better days and the water pressure was like being spit on by a squirrel. During our stay, one of the two elevators broke, greatly burdening the one remaining lift, so much so seeing people get off in the lobby was like watching a clown car unload. There doesn’t seem to be any turndown service, though much like the hotel’s ghosts, I’ve heard rumors of its existence.   As we were leaving we found housekeeping unaware of our late checkout time, so I wonder if there is just a general lack of communication on that front.

That being said, little shabby things like a slightly peeling ceiling don’t ruin a hotel stay for me, particularly when I’m paying $169 a night to stay in such a lavish and notably historic hotel.  I’ve paid almost that much to stay in Days Inns that reeked of curry, so I’ll take a peeling ceiling for $169 a night all day long.

The true gem of Le Pavillon is the staff. From the doting doorman to our fun and helpful bartenders everyone was very pleasant and accommodating. Several of them shared with us with stories of the hotel’s hauntings, from spotting spirits peeking around a corner, to watching a balloon walk itself out of the dining room as if being tugged by a child. Now… I will say that last story came from our riotous waitress Grace, who also noted that later that evening she had to swing by Home Depot to get a tool to file the identification numbers off the metal rod in her husband’s leg so there would be no evidence after she killed him, so you sort of have to take her stories with a grain of salt. She and our wonderful bartender Bridgette kept us in stitches, playing off each other like the Odd Couple. Another bartender Pam, also a joy to see, offered us a taste of her “Pamosa” – a Mimosa with a splash of grenadine she plans to patten.

We do seem to meet a lot of bartenders.

The hotel offers a good breakfast buffet in the amazing aforementioned dining room and everything we ate in the bar or through room service  (andouille sausage po boy, club sandwich, hamburger, Southwest egg rolls) was very good, even if they all seemed to be made on autopilot (no special requests were ever honored – medium rare burger came medium well, no mayo on the club was ignored twice).

The walk to Bourbon Street is about half a mile and Jackson Square just a bit farther, which is very doable, particularly if you have no interest in listening to loud music or the sounds of people barfing all night. The rooftop pool is small but greatly appreciated while fighting New Orleans’ sweltering heat. Tales of the hotel walls being thin seemed exaggerated – we never really noticed except to hear the bathroom next door flush or one time the wild giggles of wedding party stragglers making their way down the hall at 2am — and I doubt titanium walls would have rebuffed that level of drunkenness.

If you don’t usually splurge with your accommodations, then there is a good chance Le Pavillon will wow you on all fronts. If you are fairly accustom to luxurious travel, you’ve got a better chance of being disappointed, though in the end the fabulous staff may make you forget all the little issues with which this aging “Belle of New Orleans” wrestles.

Amy Vansant
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