From Humble Beginnings as a Warehouse, to Chic Boutique Hotel
Location, location, I love the location. I’m staying overnight at the Old 77 Hotel and Chandlery. Although it’s located a few blocks from Bourbon Street and that crazy-good vibrancy of the French Quarter, this chic boutique hotel in New Orleans has a wonderful charm, all its own.
Opening in 1854, as a coffee warehouse, it serves the bustling port of New Orleans. Years later, it’s converted into a general store, selling a vast array of necessary goods to young sailors preparing to set sail on that wide-open sea.
In 1862, the changes on the Mississippi are drastic. It has been one year since the start of the American Civil War. Union forces move in to capture New Orleans. When they close the entire port to the Confederate Army, stalling a main source of supplies and money, the blow to commerce is deadly.
Eventually, the port recovers from the war and the warehouse becomes The Ambassador Hotel. More recently, its $14 Million renovations are extensive and it’s reborn yet again, becoming the delightful, Old 77 Hotel and Chandlery. It’s a name with special meaning.
Before the turn of the 20th century, when New Orleans was busy re-numbering the streets, the warehouse address was 77 Tchoupitoulas Street. Rechristening the chandlery draws attention back, to the rich history of the property and colorful people of New Orleans.
Today at Old 77 Hotel and Chandlery
From the moment I walk into the hotel’s foyer, I’m impressed. An old soul, I adore historic architecture and exposed brick. I feel like they lend so much character to a building, like laugh-lines and crow’s-feet write their stories across a weathered face.
On one wall, I catch sight of an original sign, with the worn lettering of E. J. Hart & Co still visible. Once owners of the wholesale warehouse, they stored things like tobacco, paper, medicines, window glass and other products. I find myself smiling, happy that the centuries old, scarred brick has not been stripped down and painted over.
Compère Lapin – the Restaurant at Old 77 Hotel and Chandlery
I wander through the bar and dining area of Compère Lapin. The chef, Nina Compton, is a former contestant on Top Chef and this restaurant is her first in New Orleans, opening in May of 2015.
Nina’s inspirations come from folktales she read as a child in St. Lucia. Compère Lapin was a playful, sometimes naughty rabbit that loved causing mischief. Chef Compton’s intent is to mix New Orleans teeming culinary heritage with her own Caribbean roots.
Shrimp with tomato salad and aioli, roast snapper and vegetables with arugula pesto, and spaghetti vongole are only a few delectable creations named on the restaurant’s menu. Also try the roast chicken thighs with jerk corn and lime.
One wall of the restaurant at Old 77 Hotel and Chandlery is covered with mirrors. I love that they reflect light from the sunny day outside, throwing prisms of color around the room. The tables are old, warm wood, and seem to draw me in with a wave and invitation. There is also a long, leather seating area tucked into a corner. Seating larger parties here will never be a problem.
The bar itself is a long sweep of blue and brown, with several stools for patron’s comfort. It’s stocked with every kind of liquor imaginable. As far as drinking at the bar, name a drink and they can make it, even the lesser-known concoctions like the De La Louisiane, which adds bitters and absinthe into the rye/sweet vermouth mix.
Chic Boutique Hotel in New Orleans Ambience
I am enthralled by the stunning artwork hanging from the brick backdrop inside the hotel. Before I even check into my room on the 3rd floor, I spend nearly an hour, walking through the building, standing in front of each piece, looking for the voice of each artist.
The lobby gallery initially faces the street, but then curves around corners, traveling down a long, sunlit hallway, bringing me with it. Featuring the wonderful imagination of NOCCA’s students, faculty and alumni, it’s obviously a loving collaboration between Provence Hotels and New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.
Selected works are also featured in the 167 guestrooms, alongside copies of UMBRA, an annual publication of NOCCA creative writing students. Talk about a power-punch of emotional poems, fiction and essays! Readers are in for a real treat and can purchase their own copy before checking out of the hotel. In addition, the art is also for sale and proceeds go to the artist.
I pull sheer curtains away from windows, looking out over the city. Even though we are in the heart of the city, I cannot hear anyone else moving around in rooms nearby. When I leave the hot shower and wrap myself in the fluffy, white robe hanging in the closet, I feel like I’m in a cocoon. Sleep comes quickly for me in ‘The Big Easy,’ thanks to the Old 77. I sleep like a baby.
For reviews and reservations go to Old 77 Hotel and Chandlery on Trip Advisor, a MilesGeek affiliate.