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Mardi Gras is almost here, and it’s fun to imagine the transition New Orleans has made since our visit to Royal Sonesta New Orleans back in December!

This coming week the hotel hosts their annual Greasing of the Poles tradition to kick off Mardi Gras, and it promises to be an exciting and revelry-filled time for all!

New Orleans was definitely one of those places where I took a ton of photos, and the below are a few scenes I wanted to share.

New Orleans

Voodoo shops and ghost tours were definitely on our list of things to do in New Orleans, and a Haunted History tour was a fun way to see the city. The New Orleans Ghost Tour showed us around the French Quarter, where we learned some spooky stories, took in amazing architecture and history, and had a cocktail stop at the famous Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop.

LaFitte

This spot was most DEFINITELY haunted. I could feel it all over.

They also made a delicious Dark n Stormy.

New Orleans Ghost TourNew Orleans Ghost Tour

Throughout the tour we learned tales of New Orleans’ most haunted places like LaLaurie Mansion. I think it would have been creepier at night, but I would recommend it at any time!

Drinks to-go were a novelty and freedom that we took advantage of a few times. I am not a fan of sweet drinks, so I skipped the Hurricanes and enjoyed a Mint Julep from Pat O’Brien’s.

New Orleans

We had incredible weather in New Orleans and loved our time admiring architecture like the St. Louis Cathedral and outdoor spaces like Jackson Square, both a short walk from the Sonesta. Everything in New Orleans felt so bright and fresh and vibrant!

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Inside the cathedral offered a beautiful calming feeling; I am not super religious, but I love the peace that comes over me in a church like this.

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Arnaud's

French 75s at Arnaud’s French 75 bar were delicious, and set me on a French 75 kick for the week. We loved the service at the bar as well; it had such a classic old vibe. It also felt pretty haunted; a few times I felt something brushing my face and hair and had a few “out of the corner of my eye” sightings. I love a haunted city!

Cafe du Monde

Coffee and beignets from Cafe du Monde were of course a must-try. We ended up ordering a ton of coffee for home. I liked the beignets, but those at Royal Sonesta New Orleans ended up being my favorite by far.

NOLA

We found music everywhere in New Orleans (and I danced), and it just added to the festive, relaxed vibe of our getaway. Since it was almost Christmas, we saw several parades of local school children singing and playing instruments. It was so sweet.

Armstrong Park

To work off all of those beignets and cocktails and yummy dishes, we explored most of the city by foot. Armstrong Park is a must-visit for enjoying the outdoors, art, and pop up performances. It’s a great escape when the rest of the city feels too bustling for you.

Armstrong Park

New Orleans was quite an experience, and we are excited to plan another visit.

More posts about New Orleans

Lunch at Cochon

Brunch at Brennan’s

Brass-a-holics at Royal Sonesta New Orleans

Cafe Amelie New Orleans

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Tags: cocktails, ghost tour, New Orleans, NOLA, tourism, Travel, travel blog, Travel Tuesday

Hey y’all! I am back from my first trip actually exploring a place in Texas (I planned a conference outside of San Antonio years ago, and I never left the conference hotel!), and I am excited to tell you all about Sonesta Bee Cave Austin, my hosts for two nights.

Sonesta Bee Cave Austin Texas

Bee Cave is a beautiful hill country town that is right next to Austin and about a 15 minute drive from downtown. With 75 mph speed limits and giant highways, getting around the area was swift and easy!

After stopping for some tacos on the way from the airport (more on that soon), we arrived at Sonesta Bee Cave Austin and were immediately blown away by how beautiful and still-brand-new-looking the hotel was. The grand lobby was always spotless, bright, and shining, and it just offered a beautiful, expansive welcome while also being home to cozy seating areas.

Sonesta Bee Cave Austin TexasIMG_8036

Sonesta Bee Cave Austin Texas

The gorgeous lobby piano was my husband’s favorite feature. He doesn’t play as much as I would like him to, but when we are out and he sees an open piano, he picks it right up beautifully.

Sonesta Bee Cave Austin Texas

After a super friendly welcome, we were able to enjoy early check in to our corner king room, which had views of the pool (which due to gray skies and wind, I never got a good photo of)

Sonesta Bee Cave Austin Texas

Bee Cave pool

Photo source

Sonesta Bee Cave Austin Texas

The outside seating area and pool were definitely hotel highlights; if it was 10 degrees warmer I would have made an afternoon of lounging and swimming!

Sonesta Bee Cave Austin Texas

Once we had explored the lower floors of the hotel, we went up to the 6th floor to check out the place to be in Bee Cave, Meridian 98.

Talk about stunning.

From the moment we stepped out of the elevator, I think we were both awestruck by the rich decor, which featured lots of beautiful brown leather and cozy lounge details. I just wanted to (and eventually did) sink into those seats.

Sonesta Bee Cave Austin TexasSonesta Bee Cave Austin Texas

But once we got past all of that beautiful design, we were stunned again by some incredible bar and patio views. The area surrounding the hotel offers a ton of shopping in one direction, but it also offers green vistas that go on forever, and staring out at them never got old.

Sonesta Bee Cave Austin TexasSonesta Bee Cave Austin Texas

We visited Meridian 98 both nights of our stay, once for dinner and drinks and once for drinks and dessert.

I’m actually not drinking these days Winking smile, but my husband loved his Drone Dream (Yellow Rose Rye Whiskey, Vermouth, Fresh Lemon Juice, Cherry Juice, Blood Orange Bitters). Be sure to try one of the Bee Cave-inspired cocktails!

Sonesta Bee Cave Austin Texas

I love when restaurants have really good big salads, and the chef’s daily fresh greens were fantastic.

strawberry salad

The mojo chicken sliders were delicious, and the shoestring fries they came with were perfection. I am a fry aficionado and know good fries when I taste them!

Sonesta Bee Cave Austin Texas

Live music right at the restaurant made it easy to get a taste of some of the Austin area’s music scene, and it was great to not have to leave our hotel to do so!

Live music is offered Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings,

live music Austin

Meridian 98 was also home to delicious breakfast each morning. Those comfy leather chairs were even comfier with a hot cup of delicious coffee and a big breakfast in front of me!

The breakfast buffet is a steal at $12 (Our breakfasts were hosted kindly by the hotel.) compared to the $26 at the hotel we stayed at later on downtown for a conference. An extensive spread of hot and cold items varied each day.

Bee Cave

Pastries, fruit, smoked salmon, meats, cheeses, yogurts, and more tempted on one side of the buffet. Sonesta Bee Cave

On the other side, warm biscuits and gravy, eggs, bacon, and more awaited. I had a little bit of everything! The selection was delicious, and the pace was just perfect. While we had service when we needed it, we also got a real sense of that slower hill country vibe we were surrounded by, and it was lovely.

Sonesta Bee Cave Austin Texas

As I mention above, the Sonesta Bee Cave Austin is easy driving distance to many sights and attractions, but it also offers a free trolley locally to places like the Hill Country Galleria, where you can shop-til-you-drop, get spa treatments, enjoy additional dining options, and more. It’s a fun and convenient way to get around and definitely a perk for business and leisure travelers alike.

Sonesta trolley

I am blogging for Sonesta Hotels and they are kindly hosting my stay, some of my meals, and my airfare. I am not obligated to blog on my own blog; all opinions are my own and I have just had some incredible experiences with them!

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Tags: Austin, cocktails, Food, hotels, music, Sonesta, Texas, Travel, travel blog, travel blogging

Pink and green and Champagne all day. . . and a lush courtyard to top it all off. . .

On this arctic day in Boston, I am dreaming of New Orleans and our recent stay at Royal Sonesta New Orleans. Be sure to read about our food and incredible music experience if you’re planning your own NOLA trip!

We could have easily stayed at our hotel for all of our meals, but since New Orleans has so many amazing restaurants, we of course ventured out and explored. And while I was working the entire trip, I also really wanted to feel like we were away, so I did a ton of research on weekday brunch. Brennan’s kept popping up in my searches, and on our first day when we discovered it was just a few blocks from our hotel, we decided it would be a definite brunch spot for us.

Brennan’s is beyond elegant and charming, and the service was top notch. I think we had seven different people assisting us throughout our visit. While the inside was lovely, a courtyard brunch in December won us over.

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The courtyard at Brennan’s is decked out in pink and green, a favorite color combination of mine, and I loved every detail, down to the jingle bells on pink ribbons for guests to take home.

What I really wanted to take him is this table. How beautiful is it?!

New Orleans brunchNew Orleans brunch

A French press full of chicory coffee was freshly pressed at our table, and we soaked up some of the sun and green while we decided on our brunch.

This little oasis was vacation perfection, and the coffee hit the spot for my insomniac self.

IMG_7288New Orleans brunch

Brennan’s offered a Champagne menu, and being a huge lover of bubbles, I had to go with a Champagne cocktail. It may have been early, but what’s brunch without bubbles?

This drink was delicious, and I loved the coupe glass it was served in, adding to the elegant and historic feel of the restaurant.

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The brunch menu had some truly decadent offerings, and we decided to split two of the most luxurious looking items on the menu.

New Orleans brunch

I was all about the seafood and went straight in for the Eggs Cardinal: Crispy Shrimp Boudin, Spinach, Lobster Cardinal, Black Truffle Hollandaise. I mean, lobster and truffle on the same plate, paired with a Champagne cocktail? Truly this was my definition of dining heaven.

He went with the hearty Eggs Hussarde: A Brennan’s Original – Housemade English Muffins, Coffee Cured Canadian Bacon, Hollandaise, Marchand De Vin Sauce. If you haven’t had coffee cured bacon, I recommend seeking some out ASAP.

We were both completely enamored with our meals and ate every bite as we listened to the fountains and watched the silly turtles slowly get around.

New Orleans brunch

The turtles were a conversation piece for all of the diners, it seemed! Turtle soup was on the menu, and we definitely opted NOT to get it after seeing these guys!

New Orleans brunch

Brunch at Brennan’s was a real treat and a time to relax and slow down before we headed out for a busy day of exploring New Orleans. It’s a spot I would visit again at any time of day but especially during their Bubbles at Brennan’s Happy Hour!

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Tags: brunch, cocktails, New Orleans, NOLA, Travel, travel blog

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