The New Orleans Guide
The first thing that hits you when you arrive in New Orleans is that it feels unlike anywhere else in the country (or the world, for that matter). No other city has the same fascinating sense of time and place—and no other city can lay claim to introducing the world to Creole cooking, jazz, and of course, Mardi Gras. In the fourteen years since Hurricane Katrina devastated the region, New Orleans has flourished. We recently paid a visit to check out the city’s newest, greatest restaurants, hotels, and bars—plus a few classics we missed the first few times around.
Ritz Carlton New Orleans921 Canal St., French Quarter | 504.524.1331
This historic Beaux Arts building on the edge of the French Quarter was a department store in its past life. Now it’s home to the Ritz-Carlton, which brought new energy to the city’s hotel scene when it opened in 2000. Although the hotel is part of a big luxury chain, the feeling is unmistakably New Orleans, with opulent guest rooms swagged in silk curtains and intricately patterned textiles that give off a fun, nineteenth-century vibe. And the location on Canal Street means you’re in walking distance of almost everything you’ll want to see over a few days in the city (like the French Quarter, Louis Armstrong Park, and the Central Business District). There’s also a 25,000-square-foot spa for all manner of massages, facials, body scrubs, and mani-pedis.
Windsor Court Hotel300 Gravier St., French Quarter | 504.523.6000
This four-star hotel just underwent a $22 million dollar restoration—it's a really nice, solid option, with all the requisite amenities (and no ghosts).
The Soniat House1133 Chartres St., French Quarter | 504.522.0570
All of the 31 rooms at this small, luxury boutique hotel are furnished with New Orleans antiques, which is just one of the many ways that the owners, Rodney and Frances Smith, make it clear that they care. In the 80s, they bought a handful of adjacent historic homes, and strung them together into Soniat, preserving them all in the process. There are two things to remember: 1. The hotel isn't haunted; 2. They serve homemade biscuits in bed every morning.
The Roosevelt130 Roosevelt Way, French Quarter | 504.648.1200
After Hurricane Katrina, The Roosevelt—which had been operating as one of New Orleans' more opulent hotels for more than 100 years—shut down. But now, after a full restoration, which uncovered some of its original wonderful details that had been layered over by intervening remodels, it's back, and as luxurious as ever (it's now part of the Waldorf Astoria family). Besides being home to The Sazerac Bar (and the birthplace of the drink), The Roosevelt also claims that the construction of the Airline Highway—which connects Baton Rouge and New Orleans—is all thanks to them, since former governor Huey Long spent so much time there he wanted a shorter drive.
Hotel Monteleone214 Royal St., French Quarter | 504.523.3341
So here's the story: Antonio Monteleone, a shoe-making nobleman from Sicily who moved to New Orleans in the 1800s and established a cobbler shop, bought this 64-room hotel in 1886. And then he bought another one and merged them together. It's still in the same family today, and it's still a four-star hotel, thanks to multiple renovations over the course of the last century. Incidentally, it's also supposedly haunted, with many reports of ghost sightings and other strange occurrences. Not necessarily a bad thing, since many luminaries have made the hotel their home, including Tennessee Williams, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and Truman Capote.
Ace Hotel New Orleans600 Carondelet St., Warehouse District | 504.900.1180
While the décor here definitely feels like an Ace, you’ll find none of the urban grunge of the New York location or the woods-y, hipster feel of the Portland and Seattle spots. The building itself is a 1928 art deco masterpiece in the Warehouse District, occupied by a Scandinavian furniture company for most of its existence, and now topped with a pool that’s open year round in the balmy, humid Southern weather here. The moody-but-elegant interiors are decorated (by no less than goop favorites Roman & Williams) in dark gem tones, with perfectly worn leather banquettes and thoughtful art deco accents. As this is an Ace, the restaurant is shaping up to be pretty great as well. Memphis food wizards Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman, childhood best friends whose home-style Italian food is infused with a Southern kick, made it their first venture outside of Tennessee.
Hotel Peter and Paul2317 Burgundy St., Marigny | 504.356.5200
It’s taken four years of meticulous restoration of an 1860s church, schoolhouse, rectory, and convent, but this highly anticipated hotel in the Marigny is finally open. Between them, the four buildings contain seventy-one guest rooms, a bookstore, a café, and a bar, and it’s about as far as you can get from a chain-hotel experience. Each room is individually decorated by New York City–based design firm ASH NYC (it specializes in historic updates) with antique furniture and lighting, hand-painted tiles in the bathroom (a few have clawfoot tubs), and a canopy bed—a cozy, throwback touch that’s not found much these days. The café is another reason to book. Run by Church Alley Coffee Bar, it’s the best place in the neighborhood for your morning cortado.