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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

New Orleans, Louisiana / Astor Crowne Plaza

January 2014, Weekend, 2-nights, Rewards stay (40,000 points per night), King Jr. suite #411

Status perks and check-in
When we arrived, the front desk agent said that there was a guestroom for us, and that it was not ready yet (the hotel was sold out the weekend of our stay). I should have asked her what kind of guestroom had been set aside for us. As much as I travel, I should remember all these little things! Instead, I asked if we had a guestroom on the executive floor. She said that there was a Jr. suite available on the executive floor; however, some guests do not like the guestroom because it has a skylight. Another miss on my part--I should have asked for more detail. Instead, I said that I thought that sounded interesting, and she assigned us the Jr. suite on the executive floor.

I also received a small container of New Orleans seasoning. I do not know if all guests receive this, or if this was a Platinum perk.

The Astor Crowne Plaza has 14 floors, and the executive floor is on the 4th floor. I did not realize that the executive floor was only on the 4th floor until after we had gotten on the elevator. The guestroom is in a good location near the end of the hallway and away from the elevator; however, I would not recommend this guestroom to anyone with fears, like claustrophobia or arsonphobia, because it has no windows! No wonder the agent had said that some guests do not like the skylight; it is the only outside light into the guestroom. The skylight is located over the head of the bed.

I called the front desk after we entered the guestroom, and told the agent that I did not realize that she had meant that the guestroom does not have a window. I inquired what kind of guestroom had originally been set aside for us, and said that we might want to wait for that room instead. She said that she could not promise anything about what kind of guestroom we would receive if we waited for another guestroom, since the hotel was sold out. The guestroom was spacious, so we decided to settle in and make the best of it.

The large closet by the entrance contained a safe, two robes, hangers, extra bedding, a folding luggage rack, and an iron and ironing board.

The bathroom, which was located across from the closet, included a decent size vanity, and a tub/shower combination with a shower curtain on a curved rod. The water pressure in the shower was so strong, that I felt like it was going to blow my skin off! Plush towels, a hairdryer, and bath amenities were provided.

A Kuerig K-cup machine was provided on the vanity with two coffee K-cups and powder condiments. There was plenty of room in the sitting area of this guestroom, and we thought it would have been nicer, if the coffee had been located in the living area instead of the bathroom.

The sitting area contained a sofa sleeper, soft chair, footstool, flatscreen TV on a cabinet, end table with lamp, floor lamp, ice bucket, and two glasses.

There was a door between the living room and the bedroom; however, when we tried to close it later, we noticed that it did not have a door knob.

The bedroom contained a king size bed, nightstands, second flatscreen TV on an armoire, and a desk and chair. There were lamps on the nightstands and on the desk. A clock was set on one of the nightstands; however, the light on the clock did not work, and the time was set 25 minutes fast. The bed pillows were comfortable, and the bed comfort was acceptable.

There were shades covering the skylights in the bedroom over the head of the bed. We did not like not having any natural light, so we tried to figure out how to open the shades. I eventually called for assistance, and I was told that housekeeping would come to the guestroom to show us how to open them. Someone from housekeeping arrived, and she could not find a rod or pole that she was looking for, so she called someone else, and then told us that engineering would come to assist us.

We left a short time later, and when we returned, the shades were still shut. It had sounded like the only way to open the shades was to push them open with a pole, so we opened them ourselves. We stood on the bed, and used the bolster pillow to push them open.

The Internet connection speed in the guestroom was lousy. I was not able to complete anything online from the guestroom. The hotel website says that turndown service is provided in executive floor guestrooms; however, we did not receive turndown service either night of our stay.

Executive lounge
The executive lounge was open from 4 to 8 p.m., and from 6 to 10 a.m. The door was locked outside of the open times, because I tried my key after we had checked in to see if water was available.

Food items available at 4 p.m. included vegetables and dip, cheese and crackers, and a couple of fruits. The first beer or wine was complimentary, and additional beverages cost $2 or $3 each. The first soda or water was also complimentary, and additional non-alcoholic beverages cost $1 each.

executive lounge
Around 5 p.m. a hot food item was brought out. This was chicken gumbo and rice both nights of our stay. The gumbo was excellent! The cheeses that were served tasted like they had a very high fat content. The vegetables and cheeses varied slightly between the two nights.

Breakfast foods included fruits, cold cereals, yogurt, milk, juice, coffee, bread, bagels, and pastries. The hot items the first morning were not very good--greasy sausage links and plain biscuits. The biscuits were the kind of biscuits that are usually served with gravy, so I did not understand why the only other hot food item was the sausage links. Imitation eggs and bacon were available the second morning.

There was plenty of seating in the executive lounge, and all of the employees working in this room provided great service. I was surprised that the lounge was mostly empty every time that we visited, given the fact that the hotel was full.

This hotel has an outside pool with a sitting area. We did not use the pool because the weather was cool. A hot tub would have been nice!

view from ballroom balcony
The Crowne Plaza is in a good location on the corner of Canal and Bourbon Street. There are ballrooms on the second floor with large balconies. There were not any events in the ballrooms during our stay, so we were able to go out on the balcony to people watch.
view of Hyatt from ballroom balcony

The Hyatt is located across the street from the Crowne Plaza, and all of the Hyatt guestrooms that are facing the Crowne Plaza have a nice balcony.

Getting to the Crowne Plaza was an easy 15 minute walk from the E-2 bus stop with our luggage.

There are not any grocery stores in this area, and all of the bottled wine prices were outrageous. We wanted to purchase three bottles of wine to take on a cruise with us after we checked out, so we walked two miles to Walmart on Tchoupitoulas St. There may be a bus that goes to Walmart, although we did not check, since we usually walk a few miles every day anyway.

Since I redeemed points for this stay, I was surprised to receive a bill the morning that we were checking out. The charge was for $50 per night plus tax labeled, "Room revenue." I stopped at the front desk to have this corrected, and the agent wadded up the sheet and threw it out. She told me not to worry about it, and I was not changed anything for the stay.