Terrell House

Terrell House

If your taste runs toward graceful mansions, 14-foot ceilings and period antiques, then Terrell House is for you. The restored 1857 Italianate manor, located in the quiet Lower Garden District, just oozes historic style and charm: marble fireplaces, French crystal chandeliers, Oriental rugs, original ceiling moldings and heavy silk drapes luxuriously pooling on the wide-plank hardwood floors.

Owner Linda O’Brien, who has an interior design background, ensures that little details go a long way toward setting the tone: scented candles in the public rooms, blooming orchids throughout and lots of original artwork. A small library is appropriately stocked with classics (heavy on Southern icons), including Faulkner, Grisham, Conroy, Updike and Hemingway.

The three-story manse and two auxiliary buildings have 16 spacious rooms in all, beautifully appointed with antique furnishings, high-end bed linens with a variety of pillows, and updated bathrooms with Oliva Farmacia toiletries and plush robes. Modern amenities include microwaves; mini-fridges supplied with complimentary bottled water, sodas and real half & half; and coffee makers.

Breakfast is a throwback to the age of elegance: It’s served on a long communal table set with fine china, ornate silver cutlery and crisp white linen napkins and placemats. It might feature broccoli Portobello strata, sausage and roasted grape tomato frittata, blueberry pancakes or crème brûlée French toast. In a nod to the South, hot sauce is always on the table.

Linda serves as the gracious hostess and admits she opened the B&B with her husband, Edward O’Brien, because of the people. “The eclectic mix of people, that’s what’s so interesting to me,” she says. “They come from California, New York, Germany, all over.”

As befits New Orleans architecture, rooms feature porches, galleries and ornate cast-iron balconies. Most overlook a lovely brick courtyard wrapped in lush vegetation, where you can linger while listening to the burbling fountains. You just might pinch yourself.



La Belle Esplanade

La Belle Esplanade

Eccentricity, thy name is La Belle Esplanade.

Start with the exterior of the 1883 house in the Esplanade Ridge neighborhood. It boasts such an outrageous kaleidoscope of colors that “people stop to photograph it all day long,” says owner Matthew King. The eye candy doesn’t end there.

Each of the five suites — painted in funky lime-green, lavender, aquamarine, melon or electric blue — is packed with eclectic art and artifacts. Paper globes and parasols hang from the ceilings. Colorful sea critters adorn a fishing net. Oversized glass blossoms decorate a wall.

Furnishings mix fine period pieces and flea market finds. Bedrooms have fireplaces, and bathrooms have original clawfoot tubs. But they don’t skimp on modern amenities, either, such as mini-fridges, coffee makers and TVs. Some suites have balconies wrapped in lacy wrought iron strung with fairy lights for a magical glow.

“It’s not grandma house, stuffed with antiques,” says King, who owns the two-story inn with his German wife, Melanie Schmitt.

Guests eat breakfast on tiled, wrought-iron tables in a small, colorful room, where dishes are brought in from around town and served with a side of gossip. They might feature crawfish pies, crab cakes or artisanal baked goods.

“It’s like nowhere else — very local and regional,” says King. “Breakfast is social hour. You have to entertain people.”

That showmanship marks all of King’s interactions with guests, whether he’s chatting them up at breakfast or introducing them to his front-parlor Odditarium — a bizarre collection of local curiosities, including the world’s largest assortment of voodoo cutlery. “Everything runs on personality,” he says.

King loves sharing insights into his leafy neighborhood and his adopted city. “We offer a real curated experience from someone who knows the city well. We’re here to sell the street and how people live here. There’s a whole wonderful city, not just Bourbon Street.”

And he adds: “I don’t sell beds. I don’t sell breakfast. I sell good memories.”



Ashton’s Bed and Breakfast

Ashton’s Bed and Breakfast

Breakfast lovers, rejoice! The morning meal is so important to Ashton’s that owners Patrick and Karma Ashton display illustrated printed menus in the dining room each day. Reflecting the local cuisine, breakfasts alternate between sweet and savory dishes, such as Bananas Foster waffles, Eggs Sardou (New Orleans-style poached eggs with artichoke hearts, spinach and hollandaise sauce) or Louisiana sweet potato French toast drenched in pecan honey-butter.

“We want our breakfasts to be memorable and special, a differentiator,” says Patrick of the dishes prepared by his wife, Karma. “Breakfast is my favorite part. That’s why we have one big table. Some people will still be talking at 10:30 or 11.”

Such as Leslie Grendahl, a recent guest from Madison, Wisc. “Yesterday I did everything but lick my plate,” she says during a lively breakfast conversation with nine other guests.

The visitor-centric desire to please infuses everything at Ashton’s, a gorgeous 1861 Greek Revival mansion in the Downtown Garden District of Esplanade Ridge. The lovingly restored two-story house features eight comfortable guest rooms with black onyx or white marble fireplaces, Oriental rugs and eclectic furnishings. Bathrooms are fully updated with every amenity possible, including whirlpool tubs in some or multiple body-jet showers in others.

The New Orleans–style center-hall villa also boasts 15.5-foot ceilings and a full-width front veranda framed by six white columns. It’s a lovely spot to lounge on a rocker and watch neighborhood life. Or alternatively, you can sit in the back garden patio with its massive 300-year-old oak tree or in the elegant antiques-laden front parlor.

“We love it here; it’s not sleek and modern,” says Cathy Thompson, a guest from Los Angeles. “It’s what I would imagine from that period of time. I like having access to someone who can answer questions.”

The Ashtons happily oblige. Exuding warmth and hospitality, they enjoy “guiding guests to the city,” says Patrick. “Our job is to make you happy.”



Elysian Fields Inn

Elysian Fields Inn

It was the music clubs on Frenchmen’s Street, just five blocks away, that first attracted Michelle and Bob Hagan to the Elysian Fields Inn. They bought the nine-room property in the historic Faubourg Marigny area, steps from the French Quarter, “to provide a clean, polished place, but not with doilies like in the Poconos,” says Michelle.

Indeed, the 1863 historic house has a minimalist feel, albeit with traditional touches: generously deep baseboards and ceiling moldings, rich mahogany floors, 14-foot ceilings, and four-poster beds and armoires in the bedrooms. The entrance on busy Elysian Fields Avenue features a classic columned front porch. But modern comfort hasn’t been sacrificed. Bathrooms are all updated, and most have Jacuzzi tubs.

The large bright living/dining room is spare as well, with a sitting area and well-stocked bookcase at one end and different-sized dining tables at the other. Michelle, who cooks breakfast herself, joins guests at the casual communal table for such dishes as shrimp and grits, pancakes, French toast casserole or frittata — and endless Cajun coffee. That’s the perfect opportunity to share insights into the city.

“We try to give people options on where to go,” says Bob. “If there’s a second-line parade (a New Orleans institution), I let them know.” He also likes practicing a Louisiana tradition — giving a “lagniappe,” a small gift for a customer. For example, as a surprise he restored a guest’s guitar whose strings had broken.

Guests come from everywhere — some 36 countries in two years. “We get the coolest people,” says Michelle. “We’ve made friends all over the world.”

Stephanie Urban, from Nashville and celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary here with husband, George, is one of them. “I’m so glad we found this place,” she says. “I wanted something more homey. Michelle was so welcoming.”

That just comes naturally. “I love the people,” says Michelle. “I’m very social. We don’t go out anymore, but the world comes to us.”



Marigny Manor House

Marigny Manor House

Step into this 1848 Greek Revival cottage and you immediately see why it’s been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Beautifully restored, it wraps guests in history — from its original pierced-plaster moldings, graceful arches and 14-foot ceilings to its crystal chandeliers, period antiques and leaded-glass windows.

Located on a quiet side street in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood, the four-room inn exudes tradition and elegance. That means guest rooms with fireplaces, clawfoot tubs, carved-frame or four-poster beds and Victorian wall colors of pastel violet, amber or ecru. In a nod to New Orleans’ Spanish period, innkeepers Alvin Badilla and Brian Gorshe have labeled each room with a tile plaque named for city streets: Calle de Borbon, Calle Real, Calle de Chartres, Camino de Bayona. But daily comforts aren’t ignored, either: Beds have lush designer linens and rooms boast full coffee stations.

In another indulgent touch, Badilla and Gorshe recently turned the back patio into a gorgeous outdoor spa with a saltwater plunge pool and comfy lounge chairs. It’s a quiet refuge just blocks from the bustle of the French Quarter. Or you can relax in the elegant front parlor.

Breakfast is served on a polished antique table and might feature Andouille sausage Creole-style scrambled eggs or French toast with cane syrup (the local version of maple). The dining room also has a bar with snacks, beer and wine — an expression of the innkeepers’ Southern hospitality.

“We never get tired of the people,” says Alvin. “They’re here to have fun, and we try to help them plan their day.”

The inn is especially popular with guests celebrating special occasions, who are drawn by its sense of tradition and romantic ambience. “We tend to their special needs,” says Alvin.

And “the reward,” adds Brian, “is the returning guests who won’t stay anywhere else.”



—Veronica Stoddart