Above: Inconspicuous street entrance to Bar Marilou, which can also be accessed via a "secret door" from the lobby of Maison de la Luz, New Orleans

The variety of the United States never ceases to amaze. This issue contains reports from New Orleans and Maine, two places that could scarcely be more dissimilar. Despite the pandemic, the Big Easy has seen four new luxury hotels recently open their doors. As well as searching for potential new recommendations, I was keen to see how the city’s famous restaurants and vibrant jazz scene might have been affected. And I was thrilled to find thatNew Orleanshas once again proved its resilience. Dining reservations were quite hard to come by, and music venues were unexpectedly crowded. As is invariably the case, my trip contained a mix of discoveries and disappointments. However, the new Maison de la Luz, a 67-room property within easy walking distance of the French Quarter and the Warehouse District, proved a delightful surprise, thanks to its grand architecture, sumptuous décor and unusually attentive service. During my stay in New Orleans, I also found time to enroll in a course at a cocktail school, explore some of the city’s remarkable antique shops and take two excellent Garden District walking tours.

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Above: Inconspicuous street entrance to Bar Marilou, which can also be accessed via a "secret door" from the lobby of Maison de la Luz, New Orleans