Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Getty/Courtesy
New Orleans has long drawn tourists, what with Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street, Jazzfest, and all manner of Cajun revelry, cuisine, and open-container-law drinking in between. But it’s lately become something of a Notable Hotel Town, thanks to a crop of design-forward properties that have opened in the past few years. Spots like Hotel Peter & Paul, Hotel Saint Vincent, the Chloe, and Maison de la Luz are all destinations (and excuses to book a trip) unto themselves.
Of course, if you’re heading to the Big Easy with specific plans, then it’s wise to keep certain neighborhoods in mind. If you’re visiting primarily to stay out all night on Bourbon Street or dine at some of the country’s oldest restaurants, you’ll want to stay in the French Quarter or Vieux Carré (that’s Old Square in French). For a slower pace, check out the residential Garden District, where you can stroll among grand historic mansions and gardens. Near the French Quarter, in the Central Business District, you’ll find galleries, museums, theaters, and a vibrant, modern dining scene. The trendy Bywater and Marigny neighborhoods are filled with colorful shotgun houses and the club-lined Frenchmen Street, where you can partake in multiple jazz, blues, and rock shows in one night.
To parse the landscape of buzzy new establishments, tried-and-true institutions, and quaint bed-and-breakfasts in New Orleans, we spoke to 22 savvy designers, writers, publicists, sommeliers, and producers about their favorite places to stay when they visit. Here’s what they recommend, from the French Quarter hotel that invented the Vieux Carré cocktail to the trusty Ace Hotel outpost with a jazz club downstairs.
Located within a cluster of 19th-century buildings that were once a church, schoolhouse, rectory, and convent, Hotel Peter and Paul, which opened in 2019, received the most nods from those we surveyed. Nine people recommended this Marigny hotel, with most citing the impeccable interior design. Author Liara Tamani calls the 71-room hotel “stunningly renovated” (by StudioWTA and ASH NYC) with “antiques everywhere” that gave her flashbacks to traveling in Europe. Jeralyn Gerba, co-founder and editorial director of travel site Fathom, agrees, calling the aesthetic “part French country, part Scandinavian minimalism, and part austere 14th-century Catholicism” in a nod to its religious past. (The church itself is used for arts and events programming, and New Orleans author Jami Attenberg actually held a book-launch party there.) New York Times pop-culture reporter Reggie Ugwu spent his wedding anniversary at Peter and Paul and loved the hotel’s Elysian bar, saying that his wife had a mezcal cocktail that “went down like a blessing.” But he also called out the hotel’s location: “The Marigny, lined with historic, colorful, columned cottages, is a short walk from both the famed Frenchman Street jazz bars and the vibrant Bywater neighborhood, where we had some of the best meals in memory at the restaurants Bywater American Bistro and N7.”
This 75-room hotel located in the Lower Garden District is the newest addition to the local hotel scene, quickly becoming a favorite since it opened this past summer. Built in a former 19th-century orphanage (by Austin hotelier Liz Lambert and restaurateurs Larry McGuire and Tom Moorman), Hotel Saint Vincent received the most shoutouts after Hotel Peter and Paul — eight, to be exact. When Tamani, who lives in Houston, visited the hotel’s restaurant, San Lorenzo, on vacation, she was so impressed with not only her meal (black-pepper pasta, filet mignon, and olive-oil cake), but everything else about the place (“bold wallpapers, vintage chandeliers, saturated colors, and plush fabrics, the impeccable service”) that she and her partner returned two weeks later to stay at the hotel. Television producer Jessica Held, who often works in New Orleans, was also taken with a recent stay at the Saint Vincent as well, calling the rooms “dark and moody yet with vibrant pops of color, like their psychedelic wallpaper.” Also worth noting: the pool scene, which Tamani calls “chic without being overcrowded”; outposts of both Austin boutique By George and French Vietnamese restaurant Elizabeth Street Cafe in the courtyard; the Paradise Lounge, where Jane Scott Hodges, New Orleans resident and founder of Leontine Linens comes for her favorite cocktail in town, the Italian Margarita. (On a personal note, I spent a blissful, child-free, July 4 weekend with my husband here and highly recommend getting a room that opens right up to the pool.)
For a picturesque stay and a slower pace, the Chloe is a favorite. The 14-room boutique hotel is housed in a Victorian mansion in the Uptown neighborhood and opened in the fall of 2020 after a renovation by LeBlanc + Smith. “It’s so small it feels like you rented a house with a whole bunch of your (soon to be) friends,” says local sommelier Ashtin Berry. The writer Nancy Lemann called her recent stay there and her experience at the restaurant “divine,” while Maura Gallagher, brand ambassador for Lo-Fi Aperitifs, says she enjoyed the hotel’s welcoming front yard and porch and backyard pool. Public relations specialist Alyssa Braden, who lived in New Orleans for seven years and goes back frequently, calls the Chloe an “Uptown haven that epitomizes the type of stylish, eclectic soul that only a boutique hotel in New Orleans can have” and often drops by for a cocktail or a bite to eat when she’s booked somewhere else. (She recommends the Twin Stack Burger and Shrimp Etouffee Dumplings at the restaurant.) It’s more of a splurge than other New Orleans hotels, but Braden says the intimate, comfortable, and beautifully designed property makes it worth it. And, of course, the pool is a “godsend in the New Orleans summer heat.”
Sana Javeri Kadri, founder of spice company Diaspora Co., stayed at the Maison de la Luz last year and described the entire experience as “luxurious, private, and incredibly thoughtful.” Located in the Warehouse District, the 67-room property was opened in the spring of 2019 by the Atelier Ace team (it’s right across the street from the Ace Hotel) and designed by Studio Shamshiri. Kadri loved everything about her stay at the guest house, “from the beautiful room, to the gorgeous, giant bathroom, to the evenings of wine and cheese in the lounge, to the very saucy speakeasy with an excellent cocktail list.” Other highlights include breakfast in the bright, blue-toned Breakfast Room and access to the neighboring Bar Marilou through a hidden-bookcase door. She also enjoyed the hotel’s location, which made it easy to explore the “length and breadth of the city” by bike.
As for the original: The New Orleans branch of the Ace Hotel will be a little familiar for those heading down from New York or Los Angeles, but it’s got its own spin, thanks in no small part to the on-site Three Keys jazz club. “It’s a small venue but generally books very unique acts. It’s one of my go-to jazz posts that people don’t often think about,” says Daphne Johnson, a senior director of business development at Yahoo and recent New Orleans transplant. Located in the Warehouse District, the Ace is the top choice for artists and organizers with the Prospect.5 citywide arts exhibition, as it’s close to the Contemporary Arts Center and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. With 234 rooms, multiple restaurants, a rooftop pool, lobby bar, and access to local shops, it’s like a small city that’s in close proximity to the French Quarter. Held has stayed here often and calls the neighboring Bar Marilou a favorite place for either before or after eating at Seaworthy or Josephine Estelle next door. Plus, as New Orleans native and documentary filmmaker Callie Barlow points out, the Ace is a great budget-friendly option, with rooms often available for under $200 in the off-season.
Just around the corner from the Ace is the Virgin Hotel, which opened last fall. Held most recently stayed here and called the staff “unbelievably kind,” with a vibe that’s all about being the new neighborhood hangout: “The rooftop bar and pool is especially rowdy anytime the Saints have a home game.” (Fair warning to any non-Saints fans.) She was impressed by the décor, like the plush red bed frame and French doors. Other perks include the hotel’s 24-hour gym with Technogym equipment and the Smeg fridge for stocking beverages and snacks as needed. Don’t sleep on the rooftop area, which affords “fantastic views of New Orleans,” according to Johnson.
For another more intimate stay, check out Columns in the Garden District. This recently revamped 20-room Italianate mansion was designed by famed local architect Thomas Sully in the late 1880s as a private residence and was later converted into a boarding house during World War I. Now it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a favorite of Barlow’s, who says it’s long been a local establishment. (Lemann agrees, calling it “an old watering hole.”) She loves the huge porch, which she says “gets pretty raucous during Mardi Gras, as it’s on the parade route,” and says that the 2019 renovation by Jayson Seidman kept all the charm while giving it the necessary updates.
Even though it’s a global institution, the Four Seasons is new to New Orleans, having opened this past summer on the riverfront downtown (and right by the French Quarter and Warehouse and Arts District). It’s another top choice for Nora Kovacs, who runs operations for Prospect.5 and calls it a “classic upscale experience in a beautiful building” and a “great pick for those who want a quintessential experience in the bustling center of the city with views of the Mississippi River.” And while it’s definitely a pricier stay, Berry says the luxury isn’t too over-the-top: “The service maintains a balance of casual but always attentive, with a vibe that is warm, inviting, and visible.” Johnson especially loves the new restaurant, Miss River, and says that you can’t beat direct access to the river for running and walking; Berry says that the bar is the hotel’s “absolute highlight, which you can’t miss as you walk toward the lobby.”
Publicist Virginia Dodenhoff at Autumn Communications is a New Orleans native and recently traveled to her hometown for a “mini-staycation” with a few girlfriends at the Ritz, located in the French Quarter and housed in a 1908 Beaux Arts building. She and her friends stayed on the Club Level, where they enjoyed a constant flow of food and beverages (room service was “quick and delicious”) and spacious rooms were well stocked with amenities, but it’s really the opulent grandeur of the grounds that you come for: The lobby is a sweeping series of rooms filled with plush sitting areas, and the courtyard is like something out of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Plus its downtown location meant it was an easy walk to the famous Galatoire’s or Roosevelt restaurants.
For an old-school New Orleans experience, the family-owned-and-operated Hotel Monteleone is considered a “grand dame” of the city and remains one of its oldest luxury accommodations. Located in the heart of the French Quarter, the hotel has a staggering 600 rooms, houses the famous Carousel Bar, and comes with a rooftop pool, old-world charm, and plenty of history (past guests include Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, and Anne Rice). Johnson loves its location and the fact that it has “a ton of character,” while Cathleen O’Neil, executive producer at food culture agency Care of Chan, recalls fond memories of trips to the hotel at the Carousel Bar and “the idyllic lobby.”
Another of the city’s “grand dame” hotels, Le Pavillon comes recommended by Atlanta-based designers Tavia Forbes and Monet Masters. Open since 1907 and located in the Central Business District, “the rooms are inspirational enough when it comes to their design, something we always look for when choosing a place to stay,” they say. They also call out the in-house restaurant and bar called Cachette 1907 Lounge (the truffle fries and fried Brussels sprouts are favorite items) say you have to try the “dealer’s choice” at the bar, where the bartender whips up a custom cocktail based on your preferred alcohol and flavor profile. Its location near the Garden District means it’s easy to step out and immediately stroll down streets filled with classic homes and gardens, but that “the crowds are not as wild as some of the ones you’ll find in the French Quarter.” And for those who need further convincing, the hotel puts out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the lobby at night.
For something way more low-key, consider a bed-and-breakfast like the one that restaurant-tech sales executive Heather Schechter stayed at during a recent trip to Nola. Built in 1857 and located on Magazine Street in the Lower Garden District, the three story Italianate mansion is “super-affordable” (with breakfast included), according to Schechter. Its location on the main drag meant that it was easy to explore all the shops and restaurants there, including “Barrel Proof, which made some of my favorite drinks (sazeracs and vieux carres),” and nearby Blue Giant Chinese restaurant.
One11 is yet another new addition to the New Orleans hotel scene, and one that’s on the more affordable side. Open since December 2020, it’s the first hotel to open in the French Quarter in 50 years. According to Berry, “One11 is all about flying under the radar: Sitting right across from the Canal shopping center and tucked behind a parking lot, first impressions might steer you away from this gem, but don’t let them.” With 83 rooms, it’s “surprisingly quiet and super comfy,” given its accessibility to the Quarter and Central Business District. Amenities include an in-house bistro and bar, rooftop terrace, and pool, plus access to a fitness center across the street that’s free for guests. “I highly recommend this hotel for tourists looking for both privacy and access,” says Berry. And while there’s no breakfast, hot beignets at Cafe du Monde are mere blocks away.
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