Kevin Kelly and his staff have created a setting on Louisiana’s River Road that is part history, part garden, part gourmet dining, part overnight accommodations and ALL fabulous. You’ll find luxury and elegance in the middle of lush and colorful vegetation.
Houmas House Plantation and Gardens has been dubbed “the American Version of Downton Abbey” and has had other nicknames in its storied past, such as “The Sugar Palace” and “Crown Jewel of Louisiana’s River Road.” The mansion and 38 acres surrounding it provide an extraordinary venue and destination for people from Louisiana and well beyond.
Exceptional guest cottages
The cottages at The Inn at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens were built two years ago to meet the needs of those coming to the property for weddings and other special events. They have become a much sought after destination for a retreat or to celebrate anniversaries, and even honeymoons. Each room is decorated with old world furnishings, marble bathrooms, lavish amenities and a porch.
The Inn has been called “the most elegant bed and breakfast in the Great River Road.” Owner Kevin Kelly loves Biltmore House in North Carolina, and you can easily see the influence of that magnificent property in the attention to details that permeate Houmas House. The high ceilings, the wide crown moldings, the intricate tile work in the bathrooms and even the toiletries by L'Occitane are exceptional. Mr. Kelly is also partial to dragonflies, so you will find those symbols woven throughout the decor.
Don’t look for plastic or Styrofoam cups. Instead, there are crystal goblets and ceramic mugs in the room along with a nice array of beverage choices.
A night’s lodging also entitles guests to breakfast at The Carriage House and a tour of the mansion.
Three distinctive restaurants on the property
For breakfast, make your way to The Carriage House and enjoy the elegant dining room and a delightful meal prepared by Executive Chef Joseph Dicapo. Menu options include Bananas Foster Pain Perdu (French toast) and Plantation Omelettes, along with traditional choices of waffles, eggs, bacon and sausage. All breakfasts include dragonfly biscuits, pecan butter and fig preserves. The Carriage House is open for breakfast from 8:00-10:00 a.m. each morning and from 5:00-9:00 p.m. each evening for casual dinners.
Cafe Burnside is a nice option for lunch that is open from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. daily.
Latil’s Landing is located in the French house built by Alexander Latil in 1773. It offers very upscale dinners prepared by Executive Chef Anderson Foster on Wednesdays through Saturdays from 6:00-10:00 p.m. Both Foster and Dicapo share responsibility for Cafe Burnside and are committed to using locally sourced ingredients, especially the herbs and vegetables grown right on the Houmas House grounds.
Craig Black is the Head Gardener at Houmas House, and he is also thought of as an artist. Mr. Black oversees the introduction of 60,000 new plants into the landscape twice a year so that guests can always experience colorful blooms.
For a special event here, you can choose between wide expansive lawns, formal gardens, alleys of massive live oak trees, water lily gardens and fountains. Referred to here as “the Cathedral of Oaks,” those trees were actually planted by the Houmas Indians nearly 300 years ago, and they served as a corridor leading from the river to the property.
A great benefit to spending the night at the Inn is being able to stroll the grounds after the tour groups have left and enjoy all of this lush vegetation.
Touring the mansion
Don’t leave without touring the glorious mansion on the grounds of Houmas House. No rooms are roped off, and it is very accessible so that guests feel at home. It is not treated as a museum. Mr. Kelly actually lives in this mansion and graciously makes it available everyday for those wanting to take a look. Many fine antiques, valuable collectibles and works of art adorn the rooms.
Tour guides in period costumes will guide you through the home while sharing stories of past owners Daniel Clark, Wade Hampton, John Burnside, and William Porcher Miles, who were some of the wealthiest sugar barons of their day. You will enjoy seeing the Bette Davis Room where the actress stayed while filming “Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte.”
The mansion is open for tours seven days a week from 9:00 a..m. to 5:00 p.m.
An extravagant stay that is worth the splurge
Every aspect of Houmas House Plantation and Gardens is done with excellence. The guest rooms have everything you could possibly need. There is even an attendant on a golf cart ever-ready to take you from one part of the grounds to another if you’d prefer to take it all in without walking. The food is heavenly, and the grounds are artistic masterpieces. Spoil yourself sometime soon. For an anniversary or a retreat, this would be a great choice. Located between New Orleans and Baton Rouge at 40136 Highway 942 in Darrow, LA, it is worth the drive.
Houmas House Plantation and Gardens was named the 2010 Attraction of the Year by Louisiana Tourism. It was the 2015 Bed and Breakfast of the Year, and in 2007, Latil’s Landing was named by Esquire Magazine as one of the Top 20 New Restaurants in the Country. You are in for a treat.