Places & Faces
The Diamond of the French Quarter
11/16/2015 10:16:15 AM


In the jeweled crown of upscale French Quarter lodging, Hotel Mazarin is known as "the diamond,” and for good reasons. This genteel gem offers amenities not found at many other hotels in the Quarter. "Because we are a boutique hotel, we can be more attentive to our guests,” says hotel concierge Janet Wellman. "We get to know them very quickly. They become like family.”

My husband and I recently visited New Orleans and had the pleasure of being guests at Hotel Mazarin. Centrally located at 730 Bienville St. between Royal and Bourbon Sts., Hotel Mazarin is a perfect choice for business or pleasure travelers. This historic property has been updated with modern conveniences. The rooms are comfortable and exquisitely appointed with crisp white linens, thick terry bath towels, robes and slippers, oriental rugs, black marble-tiled showers, a refrigerator, complimentary bottled water, and free Wi-Fi. Room rate includes a hot breakfast buffet. They offer valet parking and bag service, a fitness room and business center. A meeting room comfortably accommodates up to fifty people. Wellman sits at a corner desk in the lobby, eager to help guests with restaurant suggestions and reservations, tour bookings, and directions to local attractions. "We do our best to ensure our guests are taken care of and have a great time while visiting the French Quarter.”

The courtyard, with its grand fountain, is the perfect place to relax, enjoy breakfast, or host a wedding ceremony. "It’s like a peaceful oasis in the in the middle of the French Quarter chaos,” says Wellman.

Adjacent to the courtyard, we found Patrick van Hoorebeek holding court in his popular wine bar, Patrick’s Bar Vin. He is the "perpetual king” of Krewe of Cork, a Mardi Gras organization of approximately 400 wine enthusiasts. Van Hoorebeck is known around the Quarter as the bon vivant, which means a person who loves life. He greets his patrons, ensuring every stranger he meets is a new friend. Originally from Belgium, van Hoorebeek has led a life as colorful as the stylish clothes in his closet. He regales his friends, both new and old, with stories from his fascinating experiences.

Van Hoorebeek moved to Louisiana at the age of 31 to join his father, from whom he’d been estranged for 20 years after his parents divorced. He spent the first year of his new life in the United States in—of all places—Lake Charles. He worked as a busboy at Chez Oca (now La Truffe Savauge) where his father was maître d'. At the time, van Hoorebeek spoke little English. In an effort to learn the language, he enrolled at McNeese State University. He took an English course and, because he was interested in food service, he took a home economics class. He smiles as he tells the story of how he was the only guy in a classroom full of women.

Lured by the promises of life in a larger city, van Hoorebeek moved to New Orleans and made a name for himself as a popular waiter and maître d' in several high-end French Quarter restaurants. Four years ago, he opened Patrick’s Bar Vin, one of the first wine bars in the city. Bar Vin specializes in fine wines and van Hoorebeek’s beloved Belgium beers.

Hotel Mazarin’s bar, The 21st Amendment La Louisiane, faces Iberville St. This 1920s-style speakeasy specializes in Prohibition-inspired cocktails. Sip Sazeracs, Old-Fashioneds, and other uniquely-crafted cocktails. Listen to live traditional New Orleans jazz, surrounded by vintage photographs from the Prohibition era.

New Orleans offers so much to see and do – there’s something for everyone. Sports fans follow the Saints at the Superdome. History buffs explore the numerous museums, most notably the phenomenally popular World War II Museum. Animal lovers flock to the Audubon Zoo and Aquarium of the Americas. Lovers stroll the lush landscaped parks. Shoppers peruse the myriad of quaint shops and the French Market. Party people meander along Bourbon Street. For food aficionados, there is simply no end to their delight. I enjoy art, antiques and vintage clothing, so I gravitate to Royal St. The French Quarter is a magical place for me. The historical buildings and wrought iron balconies draped in flowers and greenery take me back in time. I love the street performers and the way the music never stops. It’s an entertaining mash-up of sensory overload.

No matter what your interests, it’s nearly impossible to go to New Orleans and not have a good time. Whether you are gearing up for game day, listening to music, or fine dining your way through the Quarter, Hotel Mazarin can meet your needs and ensure your visit is as pleasurable as possible. And be sure to visit Patrick van Hoorebeek at Bar Vin. He’ll enchant you with captivating stories.

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