The history of this French Quarter grande dame echoes that of the city, including its dark days. The building has served as everything from a centre of commerce for the exchange of land and enslaved peoples to a Civil War-era hospital, though in better times it hosted some of the first Mardi Gras balls. For much of the early 20th century it flirted with ruin, before decades-long efforts to preserve it paid off in 1960 when it reopened as the Royal Orleans – Led Zeppelin even named a song after it. Today, it is the only hotel with balconies overlooking Royal Street, while its Rib Room conjures the party days of old with a jazz brunch on weekends. A ‘Say Goodnight to Hunger’ programme also donates food to local shelters for every stay completed.
More information: Rooms from around £170 per night, excluding breakfast; omnihotels.com
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better location for a boutique-chic stay with access to a deep pool than this elegant spot on the edge of the French Quarter. Whether you opt for a room in the main house or one of the studio apartments out back, it is perfectly placed, just a short stroll to the live-music mecca of Frenchmen Street, which might account for its rather colourful 20th-century history. In the first half of the 1900s, after ‘Storyville’ (the city’s red-light district) was shut down, it operated as a discreet brothel; it was later home to the ‘Boom Boom Girls’, the backup dancers for the late, great burlesque performer (and former owner) Chris Owens. Nowadays, manager Caleb offers a more wholesome kind of hospitality, with a glass of wine on check-in and plenty of tips for the perfect stay.
More information: Rooms from around £140 per night, excluding breakfast; melrosemansion.com
Located on a corner of the Lower Garden District, this Greek-revival 1860s townhouse is a residential beauty. The 18-room hotel’s namesake is the Irish-born architect who built it; his breezy courtyards, deep porches and soaring ceilings filter the Southern sun just right. Brass instruments adorn the heads of cast-iron canopy beds surrounded by brick walls and city scenes on wallpaper. In the Parlor Lounge, staff can mix up a classic Sazerac (invented in New Orleans and considered ‘America’s first ever cocktail’). Come morning, collect a coffee and a breakfast roll at The Rabbit’s Foot bodega across the street, then stroll to St Charles Avenue for a ride to the French Quarter on the world’s oldest continuously operating streetcar line.
More information: Rooms from around £190 per night, excluding breakfast; henryhowardhotel.com
The newest five-star luxury hotel in town boasts a large spa, rooftop pool, private residences, two of the city’s most lauded chefs and landmark status on the banks of the Mississippi. Set within the city’s former World Trade Center building, its floor-to-ceiling windows make the most of the downtown and river views, while conversational nooks burrow into almost every public space. Best of all, efforts are being made to reduce its environmental impact, with its restaurants recycling used oyster shells to help restore Louisiana’s coastline and create offshore reefs. Toast to its success beneath the 15,000 hand-strung crystals in the lobby’s Chandelier Bar.
More information: Rooms from around £380 per night, excluding breakfast; fourseasons.com/neworleans
Imagine that you kept an expertly maintained guesthouse in each of your favourite cities, all filled with nostalgic design flourishes collected from your world travels. Maison de la Luz is your place in New Orleans. Of course, this is an impression that has been perfectly crafted through fastidious interior design and an eye for a soft furnishing or two. The building was originally a former annex of New Orleans City Hall, built in 1906 (and redesigned in 2019). Amenities include a personalised VIP concierge, breakfast and nightly wine-and-cheese evenings in the delightfully charismatic common rooms. There is even a private entrance to neighbouring craft-cocktail sanctuary Bar Marilou for when you fancy a tipple.
More information: Rooms from around £572 per night, excluding breakfast; maisondelaluz.com
Grand, gilded and open since 1893, this centrally located icon is a destination in itself. The languorous, block-long lobby bustles with enamoured visitors dining at Domenica (famous for its happy-hour pizzas) or slipping into the Sazerac Bar for a ‘Ramos gin fizz’ as bartenders whip up its froth with the rare enthusiasm that comes from owning the original recipe. Hotel guests whisk away into quiet comfort via appointed rooms, to sumptuous spa treatments or to the rooftop pool that overlooks Gothic-revival steeples. Back in the lobby, look for the bronze statue of a woman soundlessly rotating; she’s the largest conical clock in existence.
More information: Rooms from around £200 per night, excluding breakfast; therooseveltneworleans.com
One of four 19th-century orphanages opened in New Orleans by Irish-born philanthropist Margaret Haughery (a self-made baker), the Saint Vincent was on the verge of abandonment when its substantial brick, wood and cast-iron bones were turned into one of the city’s most unique new stays. Completed in 2021, it has been ingeniously done. The old chapel has been turned into a bar, framed in bright-red neon, and the nuns’ top-floor rooms, now known as the ‘Sister Studios’, boast peek-a-boo views of historic Lower Garden District rooftops and the Mississippi River. An honour bar provides Negroni fixings and treats, while vintage furnishings and rugs abound, detailed down to the push-button room phones. Other highlights include an Art Deco pool, free yoga on Saturdays, an admirable ban on plastic water bottles, and two outstanding restaurants.
More information: Rooms from around £275 per night, excluding breakfast; saintvincentnola.com
Bourbon Street’s wild reputation often precedes it, and a stay in the heart of party central is unlikely to dissuade you of the notion that tales of its excess are overblown. However, its history is undeniable and this massive 483-room property is packed with character, not to mention a central outdoor pool and exterior galleries that let you watch life below unfurl. The burlesque performers and brass bands who grace the stage of the intimate and swanky Jazz Playhouse on-site are some of the best in the city (tickets sold separately). Restaurant R’evolution, also on-site, offers classic Cajun cooking in an extravagant setting, while the sign above the door of the Desire oyster bar is one of the most iconic photo backdrops on Bourbon Street.
More information: Rooms from around £190 per night, excluding breakfast; sonesta.com
Opened in 2021, this is a rare example of a New Orleans stay built from the ground up, and it has plenty of eco-credentials to show for it. The hotel even contracts with a local non-profit to recycle its glass. There is a convivial streak running throughout the building, fuelled by a communal coffee area and workspace stocked with books and board games, and by the chain’s signature ‘lounge beds’, which feature backrests on three of the four bed corners. The Commons Club restaurant and rooftop pool host DJs, bands, seasonal markets of local vendors, and artist collectives whose work adorns the walls. Do also try the boiled crawfish and Creole pickle popcorn flavours stocked in the minibar, if only to say you did.
More information: Rooms from around £142 per night, excluding breakfast; virginhotels.com/new-orleans
The Ritz-Carlton holds court downtown in the former Maison Blanche department store, an impressive 1908 Beaux-Arts building on Canal Street. The perks here make it special. A daily beignet cart for guests satisfies those with a sweet tooth, while the hotel’s afternoon teas on Saturdays are legend. Experiences often incorporate New Orleans’ non-stop celebrations, such as a Drag Tea for Southern Decadence in September (a festival often described as a mix of Pride and Mardi Gras) and all-you-can-eat spring crawfish boils in the lush Courtyard (with champagne, naturally). Don’t miss jazz trumpeter Jeremy Davenport perform in his namesake lounge; he has been in residence at the Ritz-Carlton for over 20 years.
More information: Rooms from around £275 per night, excluding breakfast; ritzcarlton.com
Out front, just beyond the wrought-iron gates, the St Charles Avenue streetcar clacks by while guests laze on an expansive brick patio under majestic live oak and crepe myrtle trees. That is how you know that you are in Uptown – the chi-chi vibe just pervades the air. The Chloe was originally created as a private home for a wealthy 19th-century merchant; it opened in its current guise in 2020. Its 14 rooms are charmingly eclectic, mismatching old finds with new, and each is stocked with a stash of vinyl records by New Orleans-connected artists, ranging from Louis Armstrong to Lil Wayne. As the first hotel from one of the city’s feted restaurateurs, the food lives up to the hype; watch out too for its list of cultural programmes.
More information: Rooms from around £375 per night, excluding breakfast; thechloenola.com
Taking its name from the building’s original occupiers (New Orleans Public Service, Inc), this location sat unused from the 1980s until 2017, when it was finally bought and transformed. The new owners retained the old 1920s terrazzo floors and the stone countertops where locals would buy streetcar tokens and pay their bills. As a result, it more than earns its spot on the US National Register of Historic Places. This is also the only African American-owned major hotel in a city that owes its cultural reputation to the Black community. And while spacious suites, a rooftop pool and the finest showers in town lure visitors year round, if you come in July for the annual Essence Fest celebration of Black culture, be aware that rooms sell out fast.
More information: Rooms from around £220 per night, including breakfast; nopsihotel.com
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