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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hotel Review: Hilton Riverside, New Orleans

There are so many great places to stay in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. From the Central Business District to the French Quarter, you are sure to find hotels that range from your five star to very unique boutique ones. Hotels in New Orleans aka the “Big Easy,” however, are not typical of the many across the country or globe. Instead, they seem to make it their business to make sure you feel right at home. One such hotel I stayed during my visit for the New Orleans Jazz Festival is the Hilton Riverside Hotel.

With their recently completed $40 million upgrade, their ideal location [easy walk to the French Quarter, the Arts District and Convention Center], health club, sexy remodeled rooms, brilliant restaurant and café, and their 29th floor Executive Lounge, among many amenities, the Hilton Riverside will most likely be your hotel of choice, if you decide to visit soon.

Ideal Location: Located on Poydras street in the Central Business District, with the Mississipi River serving as its backdrop, the Hilton Riverside is an ideal place whether you travel solo, with family [it is a very safe location, especially when traveling with children] or for a romantic getaway. Less than a block, to the right of the hotel, once you exit its main entrance, are street cars. You can catch a street car for only $1.25 for a brilliant tour of the city.

Shopping: For the fashion-forward/fashionistas, this is a perfect, perfect location! The Riverwalk Marketplace is known for its shopping, dining and entertainment is less than a minute away. In fact, the Riverwalk Marketplace is an annexation to the hotel. For an even more uplifting shopping experience, exit the main entrance of the hotel veer right and walk straight to the foot of the famous Canal Street. There, you will find “The Shops at Canal Place,” a premier shopping destination that is home to many exclusive and famous designer boutiques and stores like Kenneth Cole and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Art & Culture: Right next to The Shops at Canal Place is the Aquarium of the Americas [think the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California if you’ve ever visited]. Across the hotel and in very close proximity is the IMAX theater, ideal for a romantic movie with your sweetheart or watching the movie “Hurricane on the Bayou.” If you'd rather just hang out Las Vegas style, head on to the well known gigantic Harrah’s Casino, also located across the hotel and less than a minute from the theater.
Mardi Gras World: Exit the hotel’s main entrance, veer right and walk towards the rear of the hotel.

In less than two minutes, you will be at the Riverwalk. At the Riverwalk catch the FREE ferry to Algiers Point, a village within the city with buildings and homes that date back to the 19th century. Algiers Point is also home to the famous Mardi Gras World-where all the gigantic floaters you see during Mardi Gras are made.

Restaurants & Cafe: The second floor houses the hotel's River Blends Café so you can get all your coffee and mocha latte fixes. On the first floor, you will find two restaurants. One is the Le Croissant Restaurant. The other is its well known Drago’s Seafood Family Restaurant. The story goes like this: Papa Drago and Mama Klara Cvitanovich opened their restaurant, Drago’s, in 1969. It quickly became known for excellent cuisine and hospitality.

In fact, Mama Klara would stand and continues to stand at the door to greet customers. After the recent Hurricane Katrina and as part of its rebuilding efforts, the Hilton Riverside which housed students from Dillard University, during the Hurricane, for seven months, thought they’d like to bring Drago’s ambience and great food to the hotel. The hotel solicited the Cvitanovichs who said, “no problem, so long as we are allowed to continue serving our amazing foods and delivering our famous hospitality.” Today Drago’s has expanded to a 360 seat restaurant located at the Hilton; and they continue to be true to their philosophies of great food and hospitality. I brought my legal colleague and native of Louisiana with me to sample some of the food. His highly discriminating taste bud was impressed with their Charbroiled Oysters and very delicious Red Beans and Rice. Good stuff!

Business Traveler: “Time is money and money is time,” especially for the entrepreneurs among us. Avoid the lines at the ariport and save time with the hotels express check-in kiosks located on the second floor. Also, a very cool feature I observed was the OBGYN conference TV channel negotiated and dedicated to the OBGYN group, members could easily know about their coneference's day activities. That's a cool feature you can negotiate with the hotel if you are planning a big conference.


Fitness: For outdoors fitness i.e. running or walking, take a long stroll or walk alongside the Riverwalk. If you choose to work out in the gym, then you must try what I consider, by far, my favorite amenity at the Hilton Riverside, their health club. It is just brilliant! New Orleans while super cool for great cuisine, cocktails and culture gets a zero rating when it comes to facilities for staying fit. It’s hard to find quality gyms around the city. But wait! The health club at the Hilton Riverside offers 106,000 square foot of space housing state of the art and unmatched fitness equipments! There are two tennis courts, two volleyball courts, one basketball court, several racquetball courts, a virtual and very cool golf course room, saunas and jacuzzis in the men and women’s locker rooms, aerobic rooms, jazzercise rooms and tons of cardiovascular and weight training equipment.

They even have a juice bar!
How cool is that? The cost to use all of these is only $12.00 per day! Their health club surpassed that of even the famous 24hour fitness Super Centers that charge $20.00 a day to use. The hotel independent of the fitness club has two large clean pools for the hot summers.
Negatives:The Hilton Riverside is not for you if you want something small. Its very large size can be intimidating. However, the hotel compensates for its large size with excellent room service. House keeping services were just superb and offered at least twice a day. If you need something from concierge, room service or anything of that sort, before you can even hang up your phone call, they are right there. The beds are amazing and great to sleep in. Another real cool thing is the 29th Executive Floor services the hotel offers. If you stay in the executive rooms which I believe is the 20th floor and above, you get access to the Executive Lounge on the 29th floor with a panoramic view of the city and the Mississipi river. You can, while taking, in all the beauty and watching the cruise ships, freighters and riverboats pass by, enjoy continental breakfast in the morning or in the evenings sample some appetizers, fruits, baked goodies and drinks.

Overall, I found the hotel to be a safe location for the family, a great place for a romantic getaway and perfect for those traveling solo. By the way, the hotel continues its renovation throughout the year so if you decide to stay there, be sure they have booked you in one of their remodeled rooms. The Essence Jazz Festival is coming up very soon! It might be a good time to visit New Orleans and also check out the Hilton Riverside Hotel. Bon Voyage, safe travels and have a happy stay at the Hilton Riverside, should you make it your hotel of choice.





From Dragos Restaurant





~Hotel review by Uduak Oduok

~Photocredit: Courtesy photos from Hilton Riverside, Drago Photos/Jason Perlow off the Broiler.

1 comments:

Liz said...

Hi Empress UO,
Love the hotel review!!!. It's definitely on my list of places to visit in the "Big Easy".

Keep up the brilliant work Ms. Thang!

Love,
Liz Johnson (aka Lovely Liz)

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