“We hate seeing our neighbours leave. We love being part of this street and this neighbourhood.”
I’m having a suitably un-taxing evening cocktail in the great-looking back yard of The Lookout Inn. Owners Kelly and Mark are lamenting the rise of (mostly illegal) short-term rental properties.
“I mean, obviously we house short term guests, but WE’RE always here and we’re part of this community,” says Kelly. The care and commitment of the welcoming couple to this place, which sits at the quiet far end of the Bywater, is obvious.
It’s a bed and breakfast with character, one that Kelly and Mark inherited when they bought the property, and which they have nurtured and gilded, the well-kept pool and cabana area that we sit in now being just the start.
The colourful frontage peeks out from behind a lush tropical garden, and it’s a great-looking house with splashes of reds and regal whites. The four suites inside were themed before Kelly and Mark took over, and they decided to keep them as they were.
What are the themes? You might well ask. The Mardi Gras room (in which I stayed) is a given, with classy posters form festivals of old, glowing reds and stylish bed. There’s even a chaise in the bathroom for you to faint on.
The others are less obviously NOLA, and include The Mission (for some nice Spanish heritage action), Bollywood (zebra print sofa and brazenly exotic décor) and Elvis (Graceland in miniature). They’re all wonderfully esoteric without edging into tiresome gimmickry.
Everything in my bathroom felt like it was of impressive quality, and there are no signs of skimping on the amenities. This is a guest house without the breakfast facilities (for now) but since you’re in the right place for some great neighbourhood eating options, it’s not a problem. And you can make your own coffee to get you started.
The Bywater gets hit with accusations of pretension all the time, so it’s reassuring to find this delightfully fun but really down to earth place. It feels local and it’s far from a cookie-cutter experience. It even feels (whisper it) local. In all the best ways.
Where: The Bywater
Highlights: The themed rooms, the back garden with pool, the owners
Lookout Inn website