Apr 27, 2021

Doing NOLA the Airbnb way

As any of my handful of faithful followers can tell you, there’s no place this commoner would rather travel to than New Orleans, La.  It’s a city with a culture like no other – from great food and drink, to great music, to great parties – where “Laissez les bon temps rouler” is a way of life.   

With the French Quarter at the heart of the city’s tourist activity, I’ve stayed in more memorable historic and boutique hotels than I can count.  But what do you do if you really want to immerse yourself in New Orleans, or any vacation destination for that matter? 

In November 2019, just before the COVID-19 pandemic burst onto the scene, Punky and I tried something different for a planned Thanksgiving week in the Big Easy.  We decided that we truly wanted to experience New Orleans as much like a local resident as we could.  We wanted to immerse ourselves in one of the city’s diverse neighborhoods.  The solution was a vacation home rental through Airbnb.     

The experience was so successful that I haven’t booked a hotel in New Orleans since.  Not only did we love our first Airbnb in New Orleans’ Mid-City neighborhood, we booked three more Airbnb stays in 2020 in Mid-City and the Garden District.  Yes, during the COVID-19 pandemic.  As it turns out, it was the perfect way to stay in and explore New Orleans while practicing safe social distancing. 

So, what can you expect if you decide to book a homestay or vacation rental through Airbnb, Vrbo or another online marketplace? 

For starters, it’s not hard to find an Airbnb rental where the home’s architecture is very specific to New Orleans.  Our first Airbnb was in one side of a charming “double shotgun” home, for instance.  The porch provides a nice venue for watching the world roll by.  And Mid-City is full of places like this. 

You can find something equally charming and cozy near the Garden District with a little searching.  This one didn’t have the porch, but a small patio in front of the entrance worked just as well. 

We’ve been fortunate to find rentals with plenty of kitchen amenities, which is very useful in a town that appreciates a well-cooked meal.  Once the opportunity presented itself, we found ourselves venturing to the nearest Rouse’s grocery store on more than one vacation and purchasing enough items to prepare a couple of meals at our rental.  It’s a nice change of pace, and it helped us start the day at a more leisurely pace. 

Besides, if you like to cook at all, when your kitchen looks this nice you kind of want to use it. Just make sure you clean everything before you check out.

You’ll also probably have a cozy dining space to enjoy your meals at.   

In addition to having dedicated kitchens and dining spaces, you’ll probably have a small living room or common area for enjoying some down time.  

This especially comes in handy during rainy afternoons in the Big Easy, of which there are plenty in the summertime.  

You’ll obviously want to book a home rental to suit your group’s specific needs, but we’ve yet to have any problem finding a nice property with at least two bedrooms.  

Admittedly, the comfort level will vary from bed to bed and rental to rental, but you’re probably going to have considerably more space than at a hotel.  

Often, the couch in the dining room can serve as a sleeper as well, or you may be fortunate enough to find a place with a ready-to-use day bed in the living area.   

With a city as old as New Orleans, we’ve come to expect some plumbing challenges, particularly with older properties.  Still, the bathroom amenities at a rental home should match -- if not exceed – that of your historic boutique hotels downtown.    

There’s also the luxury of being able to do a load of laundry whenever you want that comes with so many home rentals. 

No matter which Airbnb we’ve booked in New Orleans, the owners seem to take pride showcasing the city in how they’re decorated.  

From the wall art to the reading material on the bookshelves and the coffee table, everything is New Orleans-centric. 

Finally, if you stay in a residential area, you’re very likely to discover your Airbnb is within walking distance of a really good neighborhood bar.  Tell them where you’re staying, and you’ll probably be instantly accepted as a neighbor, even if it’s just for a few days.  We’ve made several friends who live in New Orleans as a result of our Airbnb stays, and we enjoy getting reacquainted whenever we return.

Plus, there’s a strong likelihood any home rental outside of downtown will come with free parking, whether in a driveway or on the street. 

If you love to visit any city over and over again – or perhaps if you’re considering relocating permanently someday – I’m convinced rentals like Airbnb are the way to go.  There’s no place like a home away from home in your favorite vacation destination. 

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