TEAtime: NOLA (Part 1)

I definitely consider myself a frugal traveler. I book affordable flights and accommodations and try to make sure the activities I do are worth the money I paid for them. But that doesn’t mean I’m cheap or penny-pinching with my trips, and sometimes, they can be more of a splurge. This was the case when I traveled with my mom, brother, and Rio (our family cat) for our first family vacation.

Some of my longtime readers might remember that back in 2018, we were set to go on a Caribbean cruise for our first family vacation. That trip got canceled when a cyclone bomb hit the east coast of the U.S. and disrupted travel. Our 2019 summer trip to New Orleans, Lousiana, was the makeup for that lost cruise. With that said, it’s important to mention that we got a full refund from our canceled cruise, and we just used that money to pay for the trip to NOLA. 

The total price for our JetBlue vacation package to New Orleans was $1853.10. This covered roundtrip airfare for all four of us, 3 nights at the Windsor Court Hotel, their pet fee for Rio, and longterm parking at JFK airport. If you’re going to New Orleans without a pet and/or not paying for longterm airport parking, your trip should be a few hundred dollars cheaper.

T: Travel Lodging
Windsor Court Hotel

The Windsor Court Hotel is a luxury hotel in a great location in downtown New Orleans. It has an old-school European style that can be seen in the artwork, furniture, and color schemes. More specifically, there’s a lot of Baroque and Rococo art and decor. If you have no idea what any of that means, or if you’re not into history or art, you’ll still be able to appreciate the beauty of this hotel.

 

 

The rooms, bathrooms, and beds were very spacious. If you’re traveling with a large party or family, I definitely recommend staying here. There’s room for everyone to spread out (including pets) and not be crammed on top of each other. The bedding and pillows were super soft and comfortable. And the hotel staff were very friendly and courteous.

 

 

We didn’t really take advantage of all the hotel amenities as much as we should have, but if you go be better than us. There’s a spa, lots of art, a fitness center, and a pool. The art is laid out all around the hotel, so you can just wander from floor to floor and check it out. This aspect of the hotel almost makes it feel like you’re staying in an art museum. As for the fitness center and the pool, we did take a look at them and they seemed a bit small. That said, they weren’t crowded when we visited, so as long as every guest at the hotel doesn’t try to use the gym and pool at the same time, their sizing shouldn’t be a problem. 

If we go back to New Orleans and stay at the Windsor Court again, we do plan to try the pool and the spa again. For this trip, we were too busy exploring the neighborhood to spend a lot of time at the hotel. 

E: Eating
The Grill Room at the Windsor Court Hotel

There were so many new restaurants and foods to try in NOLA that I had to split this TEAtime into two parts. (Click here for part 2.) In this first part, I’m including the food from the Grill Room located in the hotel. Even if you don’t stay at the Windsor Court Hotel, you can still dine at the Grill Room.

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My mom likes a lot of spice/heat, a lot of seasoning, and rich flavor, plus she’s the pickiest eater between the 3 of us. My brother will pretty much eat anything. And my preference is for sweet things – so like sweet sauces, sweet-tasting meats, dessert, etc. Together, we tried the seared tuna; the gulf fish; the mac and cheese with white cheddar and andouille sausage; the seafood jambalaya; and the gumbo of the day. We all agreed that the mac and cheese was good (for different reasons). That’s not to say the other items weren’t good. Rather, our different preferences led us to disagree on what good was. I personally loved the seared tuna. I think both tuna and salmon naturally have a great taste, and don’t require a lot of work or extra (seasoning/flavor) to taste good. But, if you do add a good sauce like the Teriyaki glaze from the Grill Room, with the tuna perfectly cooked, you have a recipe for deliciousness.

A: Activity
Haunted Pub Crawl, Haunted History Tours Customer Service

I try to be strategic about booking activities and other elements of my trips and try to get as many points and/or as much cashback as possible. I used Expedia to find and book this activity, and I used Ibotta to book on Expedia. Ibotta* is a free app that gives you real cash back on every purchase. Through Ibotta, I get cashback for my Expedia purchases, and Expedia offers me points for my booking. Plus, I use one of my travel rewards credit cards to book everything – all to maximize rewards for my travel purchases. I call it my triple rewards method (TRM).

Since my mom was the one who wanted to go to New Orleans when I booked this bar crawl, I was looking for a fun activity for just the two of us. (This Crawl is for adults age 21 and up ONLY. You will need to show a valid ID before the tour can begin.) The Haunted Pub Crawl from Haunted History Tours was $25 per person and covered the tour guide fee and a drink at Finnegan’s Easy bar. 

 

The Crawl began at Finnegan’s and had 4 stops at different bars in the French Quarters. There were a few blocks, maybe 2 or 3, in between each bar. There wasn’t a ton of walking, but I would still recommend wearing comfortable shoes. The tour was 1/3 history, 1/3 ghost stories, and 1/3 alcohol. If you believe the ghost stories, then it’s 2/3 history. I love cheesy jokes, horror movies (good and bad), and history, so I really enjoyed this combination of a traditional history tour, an unconventional tour and guide, and the drinks. It was kind of like a live episode of the show Drunk History. Our tour guide, Drew, was excellent. He was very knowledgeable about the local history and ghost lore, and the drinks were smooth. (Maybe even too smooth, but it was ok cause I was with my mom.) If you’re old enough to go on this tour, it’s a great alternative to more mundane options. Try a hurricane and a sazerac. If you do go on this pub crawl, please remember to drink responsibly and tip your tour guide.

 

*I sometimes use referral or affiliate links. When you click these links, I may get a small commission. It won’t cost you anything, but it helps me run this site. I only promote products and services that I think are great because I’ve tried them for myself.

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