By Hope S. Philbrick
I don’t see dead people. I never have, actually, though I wasn’t exactly looking for them before. But here at the Dauphine Orleans Hotel, which is located in New Orleans’ French Quarter, there are supposedly several ghosts and it sure would make a better story if I could say that I saw one. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong spot; after all, this hotel has rooms in buildings on both sides of the street. Or maybe I’m just not “sensitive” enough. No matter. With or without ghosts, the Dauphine Orleans Hotel is worth a visit.
Opening the door to Room 236 my husband and I discover a spacious, inviting retreat with exposed brick walls and vaulted ceiling with rustic dark wood beams. A thick navy blue comforter on the king-sized bed complements the room’s brown and beige color scheme. A brown suede headboard and upholstered chair offer soft surfaces upon which to rest if the Jacuzzi bathtub doesn’t tempt us first. For entertainment the room offers a flat-screen TV and also access to a private balcony (with a wrought-iron railing, of course) overlooking Rue Dauphine. The room is clean and well appointed with amenities like a refrigerator, bathrobes, coffee maker, free Internet access and more. But the best news is that the bed has a Tempur-Pedic mattress, which offers soft support that conforms to our bodies and absorbs movement (so though I happen to sleep next to someone who tosses and turns, it won’t disturb me a bit). This is a bed that promises and delivers very restful sleep. While no ghost bangs the wooden shutters to wake us up at night, at one point I do notice a shadow fluttering back and forth across the wall behind the bed—as a flag across the street floats in the breeze.
Though I can offer no first-hand verification, New Orleans, Louisiana, has been referred to as the most haunted city in America. Measuring electromagnetic fields and other variables, multiple parapsychologists have recorded above-average paranormal activity at Dauphine Orleans, especially inside May Baily’s Place, the former red-light district bordello that’s now home to the hotel bar. Three reputed ghosts at Dauphine Orleans include a high-ranking soldier dressed in a dark uniform from the War of 1812 or the Civil War, a friendly young woman who loves to dance and a middle-aged black man named Melvin who still thinks it’s his job to do maintenance around the place. This hotel has 111 rooms, so maybe the ghosts are busy spooking other guests.
Or maybe they’re down the block mingling with the spirit of Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan, who since 1814 has allegedly haunted the building that now houses the restaurant Muriel’s Jackson Square. Jourdan, who hung himself on the second floor after losing his beloved home in a poker game, is said to be a mischievous ghost who throws glasses across the bar. The restaurateurs claim to pacify him with a reserved table that’s always set with an open bottle of wine and loaf of bread. For us among the living, the contemporary Creole menu options are more expansive. Shrimp Herbsaint with sautéed Louisiana shrimp in a fennel Herbsaint cream sauce should not be missed. Seafood Au Gratin is a scrumptious entrée showcasing shrimp, fish, crabmeat, potato and Parmesan cheese. After dessert of bread pudding with candied pecans and rum sauce ask for a tour of the upstairs. You will see a historic building restored to glory. You might see a ghost.
What To Do…
In a ghost-hunting mood? Consider a spooky-themed walking tour through New Orleans with local experts as your host:
French Quarter Phantoms
…explores New Orleans’ dark history of disease, disaster, violence and horrific murders
Haunted History Tours
…offers French Quarter ghosts and legends, vampire, voodoo and cemetery tours
New Orleans Ghost Tour
…has cemetery, ghost and vampire tours
New Orleans Spirit Tours
…gives cemetery and voodoo, ghost and vampire tours
Muriel’s Jackson Square
801 Chartres Street
New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau
2020 St. Charles Ave.
-Photo Courtesy Dauphine Orleans Hotel