The Inn Thing

New Orleans B&Bs put the ‘home’ in down-home hospitality

By: George Abry

NEW ORLEANS Want free roam of a brooding Victorian mansion laden with period pieces? Care to partake of Mardi Gras indulgence from a private antebellum gallery? New Orleans bed and breakfast inns run the gamut in terms of location, furnishings, offerings and amenities.

Bonnie Rabe, president of the Louisiana Bed & Breakfast Association, and owner of the Grand Victorian B&B on St. Charles Avenue, said untapped opportunities within the state’s licensed B&B network are ripe for agents. Rabe said many innkeepers pay commissions, and in addition, large blocks of rooms are available at bed and breakfasts outside traditional tourist hot spots.

“One of the biggest trends we’re seeing is people wanting to get away from the crowds in the French Quarter,” Rabe said.

Many New Orleans’ homes are architectural gems, and many of the city’s neighborhoods are on the National Register. It’s one of the reasons clients might want to go the B&B route.

“Our B&Bs tend to be concentrated in historic neighborhoods, and because they’re not heavily concentrated in the French Quarter it gives visitors the perspective of a local,” said Patrick Ashton, president of the Professional Innkeepers Association of New Orleans, and owner of Ashton’s Bed & Breakfast.

Here’s a sampling of classic New Orleans B&Bs.

Elysian Fields Inn
Gregg Smith and Sal Sapienza have converted this 19th-century Faubourg Marigny home into an AAA Four-Diamond indulgence. Old-time aesthetics give way here in favor of streamlined, modern accouterments: sleek Mission-style furniture, armoires, flat-screen TVs, in-room CD/DVD players and private bathrooms with Aveda bath products accompany each of the inn’s eight pristine guestrooms.

A large common area stocks typical creature comforts, as well as a computer with Internet access. Guests phone in their breakfast orders each morning. Selections vary, but typically include fresh fruit and yogurt, French toast or omelettes.

Block-Keller House
The newly up-and-running Canal streetcar line was the inspiration behind this majestic home’s second coming as a B&B. In fact, the entire Mid-City area of New Orleans is anticipating a revival on the heels of the historic streetcar’s return to Canal Street.

“The streetcar is going to open up Mid-City to people who never knew it existed,” said Bryan Block, one of Block-Keller’s owners.

Clients will access this 1912 raised center hall bungalow via a series of marble steps that lead to a secluded gallery encased by 16 Ionic columns. The interior of the house is a festival of period styles, including Victorian and Arts and Crafts.

Each of the nine immaculate rooms is updated with private baths, telephones with voice mail, data-ports and cable television. Continental breakfast is served.

Five Continents Bed and Breakfast
Owner Jess Beaty spent two decades traveling the world as a U.S. serviceman. His roving itinerary provided not only the inspiration behind his B&B venture, but also its furnishings.

He’s now ensconced in this elegant, three-parlored Greek revival mansion. Its eight original fireplaces are intact, as are original crystal chandeliers, hardwood floors and 15-foot cove ceilings.

The suites are named: Europe, Asia and Eurasia. Among a conglomeration of antiques and reproductions too exhaustive to repeat, suites feature Oriental rugs, 12-foot ceilings, cable TV and claw-foot tubs with showers.

Beaty’s breakfast menu is as eclectic as the home’s appointments. At the formal sit-down breakfast table clients can choose shrimp benedict, buckwheat and pecan waffles with Maple sausage links or a Cajun crawfish scramble.

The European Suite opens onto a private gallery; Asia and Eurasia suites share a gallery.

The Muses Bed and Breakfast
Over the years, Magazine Street in uptown New Orleans has emerged as a first-rate thoroughfare for arts and antiques, jewelry shopping and clothing stores, as well as top-notch restaurants and offbeat coffee shops. And like a fine suit of clothing that refuses to goes out of style, the two-bedroom Muses Bed & Breakfast stands at the foot of it all. “Each B&B has its own little theme, and mine is 1850,” said owner Georgia Ross, who has been collecting antiques since she was a teenager.

She’s gathered some impressive gems over the years. There’s a 1910 Weber grand piano for guests to play, an antique Vitriola, a Victorian sofa with silk damask and slate-mantled fireplaces in every room.

Ross knows exactly the kind of people who are attracted to her B&B.

“The reason I call it The Muses is because the majority of my clientele are interested in the arts writers, musicians, filmmakers, dancers,” Ross said. “People who like the arts respond to it.”

Ross indulges guests with an organic foods breakfast. Among her specialties: frittata with homemade green onion sausage, and an omelette with red, yellow and green peppers and Brie.


The following rates are in-season. Rates fluctuate throughout the year especially during Mardi Gras, the Jazz Festival and other high times. Contact individual B&Bs regarding commission policy.

Block-Keller House
Rooms: $105 to $150

Elysian Fields Inn
Rooms: $95 to $225

Five Continents Bed and Breakfast
Rooms: $100 to $300

The Muses Bed & Breakfast
Rooms: $95 in-season

The Web site of the Professional Innkeepers Association of New Orleans lists licensed bed and breakfast members, as well as special packages and an updated calendar of events.
The official Web site of the Louisiana Association of Bed and Breakfasts provides a statewide listing of licensed B&Bs, as well as special packages and links to other tourism-related areas of interest.
Louisiana’s official tourism Web site.
The city’s official tourism Web site.