The wedding is a time of celebrations, of jubilation, and — frankly — of exhaustion. Before you jet off for an exotic honeymoon, take time for some much-needed respite by indulging in a mini-moon. The location: A nearby destination that offers a heavy dose of romance. Just a zippy drive across Lake Pontchartrain lies the Southern Hotel in the charming downtown area of Covington; an ideal location for a quick post-wedding getaway.
First, a bit of history: Built originally in 1907, the Mission-style hotel served for 50 years as a retreat for Gulf residents who came to the area for the mineral springs and airy pine forests. The hotel ceased operation in the 1960s, operating as a community center for sweet 16 parties, fanciful dinners and even wedding receptions until it stood vacant until 2011, when it was purchased by the current owners. The Southern Hotel reopened to the public on June 1, 2014, exactly 107 years to the day it originally began welcoming guests, and now stands as the Northshore’s most dapper property.
Each of the 40 rooms are dressed in preppy-chic designs, in which Ralph Lauren and Lilly Pulitzer would feel right at home. But for the special occasion, spring for one of the suites — there are two: The Walker Percy and the Thomas Sully, named for the noted writer who called Covington home and a Louisiana architect, respectfully. Each has an attached king bedroom, living room area, and a garden tub-for-two.
You’ll find smartly-dressed Southerners sipping cocktails in the Cypress Bar come cocktail hour, where you can clink a glass of celebratory champagne with your newly betrothed and snap an Instagram-worth story under the Grahame Menage mural. Or if you’re lucky enough to visit during one of those sultry Louisiana evenings, take your beverage out to the verdant courtyard.
A romantic dinner can be taken at Oxlot 9, where chef Jeffrey Hansell, a Food & Wine’s “The People’s Best New Chef” nominee, turns out a rotating menu of Gulf-inspired Southern fare. The restaurant is the perfect marriage of stylish and hip without an ounce of snobbery — so exactly what you want for a dinner as a newly minted duo. Pro tip:
Choose whatever is seasonal — perhaps a half-dozen raw oysters with a crisp cucumber-lemon mignonette, the housemade parsley parmesan sausage, and whatever fish has been prepared — all ideal for sharing.
And there’s the spa, which is small but mighty. For your post-wedding getaway, book a couple’s massage or his-and-her facials, and then relax with a cocktail in the pool after your treatment.
While any blissed-out newlywed could be completely content never to leave the property, Covington is in the heart of St. John’s District — no car required and perfect for hand-in-hand strolls. Here, couples can explore more than 25 restaurants (including the superb Del Porto, LOLA and Meribo), art galleries, antique shops and boutiques, along with nightlife if so inclined. An ideal afternoon: Rent a bike at Brooks’ Bike Shop for cycling the Tammany Trace, which begins in downtown Covington, and toast with a post-cycle beer at the Covington Brewhouse or Abita Brewery. southernhotel.com