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Enjoy a delightful stay in Central Louisiana at this enchanting hotel.

Sometimes we writers do get weary of staying in the same chain hotels when we’re traveling. That’s why I perked up when a coworker recommended the Parc England, a boutique hotel tucked away in the small town of Alexandria, Louisiana. “You’ll love it. It’s comfortable, elegant, and well kept,” she said. “And the restaurant is excellent too.” Enough said. The next time I headed for Central Louisiana, I decided to check it out.

Something Special

Location, location, location. This charming, 48-room hotel sits on what was once the England Air Force Base, which is two whole minutes form the airport. You’ll have your bags and be checking in within a half hour of landing in Alexandria. This site also holds the OakWing Golf Club, part of the Audubon Golf Trail.
Hotel staffer Amanda Normand will tell you the Parc England takes great pride in getting to know its guests and accommodating their likes and dislikes. “This isn’t your typical airport hotel,” she says. “We’re off the beaten path but really close, and it’s quiet here.”
You’ll love the lobby, with its tasteful antique and reproduction furniture. Though the hotel is small, it has an airy feel. The cozy guest rooms also have a sense of elegance, with their lush draperies, soft beds, and bright bathrooms. Best of all, the rooms are quiet, and service is fast and courteous.

Bistro on the Bayou

You’ll be eager to try the restaurant, which sits just across the parking lot from the hotel in what was once the officers’ club of the old air base. Open for lunch and dinner, it serves up some of the best food you’ll find outside of New Orleans. For lunch, try the lobster bisque ($9) or seafood gumbo ($9), both of which are superb and chockfull of fresh seafood. The huge shrimp po’boy ($9) consisted of flaky French bread filled to bursting with delicately fried shrimp. Lightly battered and fried onion rings ($4.50) – the perfect accompaniment – were some of the best we’ve had anywhere.

Dinner really shines with fresh fish of the day. I had blackened snapper prepared England style, which means it’s covered in Louisiana lump crabmeat and pesto beurre blanc sauce ($30). They also serve fresh Colorado lamb and USDA Price beef. Do manage to save room for the hugely popular Chocolate Molten Cake ($11). Resembling an edible, miniature volcano, the “lava” is a liquidy, warm chocolate sauce delight. It comes topped with ice cream, and you’ll be glad to work off the calories with the short walk across the street before tumbling into your comfortable bed.

This hotel and restaurant promise to make any weary traveler rest well. You’ll look forward to a repeat visit.

WANDA MCKINNEY

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