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Our trip to New Orleans to stay (and eat!) at Royal Sonesta New Orleans was easily one of the travel highlights of 2017. We got to experience the magical Lighting of the Balconies to kick off the holiday season, and I have so much more food and fun to share on the blog in the coming weeks.

One of the absolute highlights of our visit was an evening at The Jazz Playhouse, located right at Royal Sonesta, making dinner at Restaurant R’evolution or Desire Oyster Bar, followed by a show, the perfect way to spend a New Orleans night.

We were spoiled with stage-side seats, but it looked like there wasn’t a bad seat in the room, and the acoustics were fantastic. The cocktails at The Jazz Playhouse, like everywhere else at the hotel, were amazing.

The Jazz Playhouse

We got lucky as the famous Brass-A-Holics were playing while we were in New Orleans, and they were incredible. We can’t stop talking about them, looking for show dates, and watching videos on YouTube.

A bit about the Brass-A-Holics

Since 2010, the Brass-a-Holics have been taking their unique sound around the world. Steeped in the deep musical culture of New Orleans, the band brings a heavy dose of go-go funk to the New Orleans brass sound. In a blending of musical cultures stemming from cities separated by more than a thousand miles, a Brass-a-Holics live show takes the New Orleans brass band culture and infuses it with the electricity of Washington D.C.’s go-go. The resulting sound is both captivating and unique. The band consists of core New Orleans brass elements- trumpet, trombone, saxophone- and adds a full drum set, percussion, keyboard, bass and electric guitar, giving the band limitless options to explore new sonic territory. Whether performing their original music or using the framework of hit pop songs as springboards for fiery improvisations, there is something in the set to appeal to every music fan. Once the music starts, the demographics blend and a brand new experience is created- one that leaves one-of-a-kind memories that live on long after the last note.

New Orleans music

By the end of the night, everyone in the room was dancing to their music, a mix of original tunes and covers of popular songs that had everyone singing along. We didn’t want the night to end, but when it did, we got to go back up to our cozy room right upstairs, a huge perk to having the club in our hotel!

You can check out a couple of my videos on my YouTube Channel. . . which I definitely need to be more active on!

New Orleans is known for its great music and food, and we found both at Royal Sonesta New Orleans, gravitating back to the hotel even when meals weren’t planned for us. This Creole Trio at Desire Oyster Bar had a bit of everything, including gumbo, red beans and rice, jambalaya, and smoked sausage. Washed down with a French 75 and surrounded by warm and friendly service (and those NOLA accents!), this was one of my best meals of 2017. We also devoured breakfast at Desire on our last day. I can vouch for the biscuits and gravy. . . and another French 75, which became another New Orleans go-to.

Desire Oyster

While New Orleans has a ton to offer all over the city, it was also nice to have so much of our trip centered around our hotel, giving us the option to stay in or venture out. It felt like an oasis in the middle of the busy city, and we absolutely loved everything about it!

Experience Mardi Gras from a balcony overlooking Bourbon Street at Royal Sonesta New Orleans.

Royal Sonesta New Orleans hosted our evening at The Jazz Playhouse and breakfast at Desire Oyster Bar. As mentioned above, we loved the food at Royal Sonesta and opted to come back a few times on our own for drinks and meals.

All opinions are my own.

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Tags: cocktails, Food, hotels, music, New Orleans, Travel, travel blog

As much as I like having access to all Boston has to offer, I more than love escaping to wide open spaces outside the city, whether it be to the ocean or places a bit further inland. One favorite quaint New England spot is Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in Sudbury, an easy drive from Boston, and perfect for a festive lunch or dinner during the holiday season.


We recently celebrated my in-laws’ anniversary at the Wayside Inn, and it was an absolutely perfect day for strolling the grounds of the historic inn, then warming up inside with a delicious traditional New England meal and cocktails.


The Martha Mary chapel is a must-visit while at Wayside, as is the path behind the inn, where a beautiful pond and forest await.


Inside, you will definitely feel like you stepped back in time! The Wayside Inn has a fascinating history which has many famous players involved, It is definitely haunted!


I had done a long run the morning of our chilly visit to Sudbury, and I was craving all of the warm comfort food in the world! A cold Meeting House Punch, made with beer, rum, lemon, and brown sugar was the perfect way to start the afternoon, and I enjoyed bites of lobster pie, paired perfectly with mashed potatoes and squash, along with classic New England clam chowder.


Seriously, bring your appetite when you visit!


I never tire of really good bacon-wrapped scallops, and these were excellent, with crispy bacon and sweet, tender scallops, just as they should be.


I was the only one craving dessert after all that, but I guess an 11 mile run will do that to a girl. Pecan Chocolate Chip Bourbon Pie was gooey and warm and exquisite, with dollops of fresh cream setting off all of that chocolate-y richness.


The service at the Wayside Inn is outstanding, and the place is just so cozy and festive. We lingered over a long late lunch and left feeling stuffed and super relaxed.

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Tags: Food, food blog, historic, holidays, hotels, inns, Massachusetts, New England

To read about family-friendly fun near the Sonesta ES Suites Andover Boston, head over to the Sonesta Hotels blog!

My recent travel blogging for Sonesta brought me close to home, just up the road from Boston to Andover, Massachusetts and the Sonesta ES Suites Andover Boston. It turned out to be a beautiful, warm fall weekend, and our friends who live in Andover were home for us to visit.



The first order of business was to check into the hotel, which is an extended stay property conveniently located near 93 and a variety of businesses, but set off from the road making it a quiet place to relax.

There’s a real emphasis on guests feeling at home throughout Sonesta ES Suites, with welcoming areas for meeting and breakfast (which is hot, delicious, and included in your stay!) and suites that offer full kitchens and living rooms. Our one bedroom suite was larger than our last apartment! I loved that we had the ability to cook right in the suite or even just to grab a proper wine glass from the cabinet for a glass of wine.


The setup of the rooms is perfect for family travel; not only can the kids be put to bed and the adults stay up, but two TVs in our room meant no fighting over the remote.

Since Sonesta ES Suites are often the home-away-from-home for many on business travel, a spacious work area is a welcome addition.


We were excited to get out and explore Andover, which is  beautiful New England town with plenty of our favorite things, including hiking trails and places to eat.

Our first stop was the campus of Phillips Academy, which, on a perfect blue sky fall day, was very pretty and very classic New England. Right on campus is the cozy and historic Samuel’s, and since it was 5:00, we decided on cocktails and a cheese plate.


My Old Fashioned was delicious, and a well-stocked cheese plate hit the spot and got us ready for exploring some more. The Addison Gallery was already closed for the day, and we decided to add it to our itinerary for our next visit to Andover.


We took the daylight time to explore more of the campus and decided on the sanctuary for our hike the next day.


Since we’re always up for a meal, we headed to the downtown of Andover, which is adorable, and again very New England. We’d heard of Elm Square Oyster Co. from a few people, and never ones to pass up oysters, grabbed bar seats and wine specials while we browsed the menu.


My Gruener Veltliner was perfectly acidic, great pairing with the Pemaquid oysters we slurped down.  A homemade hot sauce made it all more delicious; I am a hot sauce fiend!


We added the shrimp tacos and chilled lobster, which came in the most incredible lemony sauce, to our feast. The Gruener and the lemon sauce were heavenly together!


Elm Square Oyster Co. is a definite must-visit if you are in Andover, and there were several other restaurants in the area I also wanted to try.

Andover, while to many thought of as just a Boston suburb, is a destination in itself, and it was nice to get away without driving forever or dealing with airport lines.


My stay at the Sonesta ES Suites Andover Boston was hosted; all opinions are my own.

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Tags: Andover, Boston, cocktails, getaway, hotels, New England, oysters, Travel, wine

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