Thursday, September 29, 2016

Omni Royal Orleans Hotel - New Orleans, LA (Fifty Shades of Ghosts)

Photo courtesy of
621 St. Louis St.
New Orleans, LA 70140

             I previously mentioned how it was not uncommon for a place to be haunted due to the possessions that it contains, as opposed to the individuals that died there. Such may be the case with our next location, although there are a few additional spirits thrown in for good measure. We folks in Louisiana love to live in excess. We often eat too much, drink too much and party too much so why would we not haunt too much? The Omni Royal Orleans Hotel is such a place, rumored to be haunted by over fifty spirits, many of which are attached to the hundreds of centuries-old antiques that are spread through the building.
            The property that the hotel currently sits on dates back to the 1830’s, when a small dirt-floor cafĂ© stood here, allowing locals to trade in real estate, local goods and even slaves. To accommodate to the rise of the growing community, a grand hotel was built here in 1843, named the Saint Louis Hotel, by architect Jacques Nicholas Bussiere De Poilly. The hotel was one of the top places to stay in the area, often offering free lunches to patrons and serving their creation, the American "cocktail", a drink served in an egg cup, or coquetier. This term, easily handled by the Creole patrons, was soon mangled into the word cocktail by the Americans.

            In 1841, the hotel was completely destroyed by a fire, but was completely rebuilt using the previous plans. During the Civil War, the hotel was used as a makeshift hospital for wounded soldiers. Following the war, the building was sold to the state and temporarily used as the Capitol - seat of Louisiana's "Carpetbagger Legislature".
            By the turn of the twentieth century, the hotel began to fall into shambles. The final blow was in 1915, when a massive hurricane completely leveled the Saint Louis. The property was cleared and temporarily used as a lumber yard and a praline shop; what a combination! With the French Quarter falling into disrepair, locals who refused to see the area turn into a slum planned to build another
Photo of the St. Louis Hotel just prior to its final demolishing.
grand hotel on the same grounds that the Saint Louis once stood on. After years of clearing red tape and fighting numerous legal battles, architect Samuel Wilson Jr. designed the lavished Royal Orleans, which ultimately became called the Omni Royal Orleans. This new hotel soon became the pinnacle place to stay for the surrounding area, often welcoming celebrities and political notables. Today, the Omni Royal Orleans continues to carry on its tradition of offering top-quality service along with a great award-winning restaurant, the Rib Room. Thinking out loud; that would make a great name for a strip club staffed with anorexic women! Hey, just had to find an alternative to the previously mentioned Biscuit Palace.

            Staying at the Omni Royal Orleans, you can expect five-star accommodations from friendly staff. Some staff are so friendly, they have decided to stay around even once they have passed away to take care of the guests. In particular, the spirit of a former maid has often been seen by guests who were sleeping. They awaken to find the ghostly maid adjusting their sheets and tucking them in for the night before she suddenly vanishes. She also enjoys manipulating the lights, turning the faucets on and even flushing the toilets. Guess she is not a fan of the credo, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown flush it down!”
            The ghostly activity tends to focus on the second floor of the hotel so if you stay the night here, try and request a room on that level. As I mentioned earlier, in addition to the friendly spiritual maid with a penchant for clean toilets and made beds, many feel that the years of antiques also contribute to the reports of strange happenings at the Omni Royal Orleans.

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