So I’d just had a Bloody Mary sans alcohol for cocktails before dinner. I’d had enough alcohol during the holidays and felt I needed a break. Julie did not feel like drinking either. We were planning on going to Cure since we like it so much but neither of us wanted to drink. We wanted some coffee instead. So we chose the Columns Hotel, built in 1883, one of most well-known and traditional New Orleans hotels.
This was a weekday and when we got there it was packed and all the tables were taken. So we planted ourselves on the big round cushiony thingy and got the waitress to pull over a vacant chair as our table to hold our coffees.
It was noisy and busy and everyone looked happy chatting away. I liked sitting in that room that has so much history, well, at least movie history since this is the place that was used in 1970 for the Loius Malle movie Pretty Baby, the first film ever for the then 13 year old Brooke Shields. I remember her being carted out tastefully nude in her pre-pubescent beauty almost as if she were on a platter like a piece of meat being hauled to the banquet table. I guess that was the metaphor the director was going for.
Anyway, this place had been run down for years and I don’t know what it was being used for before the movie people got to it, fixed it up and transformed it to it’s early glory. They did an amazing job of resurrecting the place and now it’s one of the most popular places in town. There is an old world elegance about it. And it’s even nicer now probably than it was way back in its original heyday.
One thing I like in particular is no smoking allowed inside. I can remember years ago going inside and being hit by the caustic aroma of cigarette smoke burning the nostrils. It’s so nice now to be able to go into places, not have to breathe in someone else’s smoke and not have it stick to your clothes.
After a little while our waitress found an empty table in the front room which was lit kind of dark and cozy and moody. We set our coffees down and Julie pulled out Banagram so we played a couple games right there while everyone else around us was chatting.
I like the porch at this place. During the summer we’ve sat out on it and there is something really romantic about that porch looking out toward St. Charles Avenue watching streetcars goes by. It feels almost like you’re in a European city. The view is beautiful from that spot with the several large oak trees spreading out their branches in all directions. The old hotel, the porch, the trees, the streetcar, the avenue captures an old-world charm still inextricably infused within the depths of this city. There is something relaxing about watching life go by from the comfort of that old porch at this old New Orleans hotel.
Although we only ordered coffee our waitress was very nice and very attentive. The coffee was good, although I like it a little stronger, and they had real cream! All in all an enjoyable evening and a great place to go if you want the energy of a bar and just relaxing with a cup of java.
Columns Hotel, 3811 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70115 504-899-9308
- Experience New Orleans (louisiana-travel.suite101.com)
- The Omni Hotels Experience (mustbeawesome.com)
- FIVE FAVORITE PLACES FOR BEING ‘TEMPORARY LOCAL’ / New Orleans: A place where you can perfect the gentle art of going nowhere (sfgate.com)