When we stayed at this grand, turn of the century hotel while we were in New Orleans in February, I had no idea that the place was haunted. Not only that, but it is rumored to be the number one haunted hotel in New Orleans and one of the most haunted hotels in the world! According to some sources, New Orleans is number one of the most haunted cities in the world! It was a good thing that we were too busy eating and drinking
and drinking and eating to see the ghosts!
Known as the “Belle of New Orleans”, the rooms were lovely at Le Pavillon and the service at the hotel was excellent. I much prefer these older hotels (even if they have a few unregistered guests). They are elegant and gracious and I think we have lost much of that atmosphere in many of the newer hotel properties over the years. Besides, newer hotels don’t have the history (or the special visitors).
I love this quote in a piece about the history of the hotel. It reads like something from an Anne Rice novel (of course, she happens to be from New Orleans).
“By the turn of the 19th century, the area was a forbidding outward fringe of the city, described by a writer of the time as a place of “foul deeds and midnight murders…the dismal gust of the wind”. Cypress thickets and cemeteries; treacherous bogs inhabited by mosquitoes, bats, hoot owls and runaway slaves; the land was a place where “no ordinary courage was required to venture alone”. The night was filled with sounds of wild men and beasts, the air thick with intrigue and desperate plots.” Now, doesn’t that sound just like
Mardi Gras Anne Rice?
I don’t think I would have wanted to spend the night in that neighborhood back in those days! It is, however, this type of worldly living (according to articles I have read) that allowed New Orleans to become a breeding ground for the paranormal. How about a little bedtime reading of The Vampire Chronicles?
What is it with the Bunkycooks and the spooky haunts that we like to visit? We also stayed at The Grove Park Inn and Asheville, North Carolina and found out that place was haunted by the Pink Lady. Geez….
Le Pavillon has gone so far as to hire a renowned Parapsychologist, Dr. Larry Montz, to come in to test and verify that there are spirits and ghosts in the hotel. Their work was successful (if you want to call it that) in proving there is definitely “a presence” on many floors of the hotel. According to his studies, the 4th floor (where we stayed) was clear (other than for a smell of Sulphur), although I have read some accounts that say there is a man who has been seen on that floor (and he doesn’t belong there). Thank goodness for all the food and booze we had…I was far too exhausted to see anyone besides Mr. B!
There are four primary ghosts that are known to haunt the hotel. Probably the most famous is a young woman named Ava or Adda. She supposedly left the hotel by carriage in the mid 1800’s headed to board a ship destined for England. On her way to the docks, there was an accident with her carriage and she was killed. Guests report that they see her in the hallways and lobby of the hotel. Some guests and cab drivers say that she will get in a cab from time to time asking to go to the docks and then she will disappear. Poof! I personally think some of these folks are having waay too many Sazeracs in that town!
One of the other, less frightening traditions at Le Pavillon is their service of PB&J every evening at 10 pm in the hotel lobby, and it is a grand serving at that. They serve peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, hot chocolate (that is the real thing and so good!) and ice cold milk. They also place miniature PB&J cookies on your pillow every evening (with a recipe for the cookies) for their turndown service. No fancy schmancy chocolates here!
Now of course, inquiring minds (such as ours) need to know why such things are done, so I asked. There has to be a story behind this nightly event (just as there is a story behind all the haunted stuff). Sure enough…you just never know what you will find out when you ask!
The story is told that years ago, a hotel guest came into the lounge one evening after just checking in and ordered a glass of milk. Of course, the bar keeper asked why he chose such an unusual drink (after all, who doesn’t have a cocktail while in New Orleans?!). The man told him that this was something that he did with his daughter every evening at home. They would have a glass of milk and a PB&J sandwich.
Since the bar keeper on duty that evening was the General Manger of the hotel, he made a request of the kitchen staff to prepare a PB&J sandwich for this guest to make his stay at the hotel memorable. Pretty soon everyone in the lounge heard about the PB&J sandwich and wanted one too.
The nightly PB&J tradition started on September 10th, 1988 with that evening in the lounge and continues today. Do you think if I ask for champagne and lobster we could start a new tradition?! It’s worth a try!
We had a lovely stay and were very sorry to leave New Orleans and Le Pavillon. I already miss the doorman in his top hat and tails along with the PB&J! Too bad I didn’t know about the ghosts while we were there, we might have had some videos of Ava to show you.
I sneaked home a few of the darling little PB&J cookies that they leave for you in the room at night, but I also decided to make a batch from the recipe that they leave on your pillow. These cookies have a shortbread texture and are full of almond flavor and peanut butter. The dough gets very soft once you roll it out, so you might have to chill it between batches. I would definitely add more jelly than I did to the cookies. They are quite good and I hope you enjoy the recipe.
I don’t know about you, but I will never think of PB&J the same way again! Spooky…
Enjoy your weekend!
Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies
Yield: Approximately 32 cookies
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Lovely shortbread cookies with almond and peanut butter flavors topped with PB&J. Be sure to make the cookie dough at least 6 hours ahead as it needs to firm up in the refrigerator before rolling it out to make the cookies.
3/4 cups softened butter (unsalted)
1/2 cup sugar
1 whole egg (at room temperature)
5 ounces creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup almond paste
2 cups all-purpose flour
Grape jelly, for tops of cookies
Peanut butter, for tops of cookies
Using a paddle in a mixer, blend butter and sugar for a couple of minutes until mixture comes together, then add the egg, creamy peanut butter, almond extract, almond paste and flour. Refrigerate for up to 12 hours.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Roll cookie dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/2 inch thickened. Cut out 2 circles for each cookie, one 2 inches and one 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
Place the 2 inch circle down on an ungreased baking sheet and place the 1 1/2 inch circle on top of it. Hollow out a section in each side of the smaller circle and place peanut butter in one side and jelly in the other.
Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Cook's notes: My cookies took a few more minutes to brown. You will find that the bottom halves brown quicker. Be sure to check them every minute or two so that they do not burn.
Adapted slightly from a recipe by Le Pavillon Hotel - New Orleans, Louisiana