Hotel Finds: New Orleans
New Orleans is in the midst of an urban renaissance. Construction sites are everywhere! Many hotel properties have been freshly-remodeled and visitors can take advantage of outstanding accomodations. One caution, driving can be difficult in some areas because of the renovation. If you’re planning to explore and dine primarily in the French Quarter, it might be wise to book there or in the nearby Central Business District (CBD). Business travelers with appointments around the city may want to consider staying in the CBD or Garden District.
HILTON NEW ORLEANS – ST. CHARLES AVENUE
333 St. Charles Avenue
Central Business District
One of Hilton Hotel’s poshest properties is located in the former Louisiana Grand Masonic Temple. The Neo-Gothic structure was built in 1926 and, at 20-stories tall, was also considered the city’s first skyscraper. Now, completely renovated – with a 4-Diamond, AAA rating – the Hilton New Orleans – St. Charles Avenue features luxurious guest rooms, a spacious lobby with fireplace, pool and spectacular ballrooms.
Throughout the hotel, bits of the building’s historic past have been meticulously preserved: an ornate archway entrance, marble foyer and detailed wood moldings. The property is listed by Historic Hotels of America.
Guest rooms feature comfortable wingback chairs, cushioned headboards and “Dreams Mattresses” – which absolutely live up to their name. Mini refrigerators, in-room coffee makers and a full-size work desk. Bathrooms have large vanities and Peter Thomas Roth products.
Executive Level Rooms provide a complimentary breakfast and evening hors d’oeuvres with an Honor Bar. Lüke Restaurant, under the director of award-winning chef John Besh, offers classic New Orleans dishes throughout the day. Most significantly, The Hilton New Orleans offers a freshly updated hotel with plenty of luxurious touches for very reasonable prices.
THE ROOSEVELT NEW ORLEANS
130 Roosevelt Way
Central Business District
Another historic hotel, the Roosevelt New Orleans began life as The Grunewald, first opening in 1893. One of the property’s main attractions was the Cave Bar, considered by many historians to be the first nightclub in the U.S. The site featured waterfalls, stalactites and chorus girls dancing to Dixieland Jazz. The hotel expanded over the years and was eventually renamed The Roosevelt.
In the 1930’s, Louisiana’s controversial senator, later governor, Huey P. Long took a 12th floor suite as his residence. Long was supposedly so enamored of the hotel that he built Airline Highway, from Baton Rouge, to a location near the hotel to shorten his drive. In 1965, the hotel was reacquired yet again and renamed The Fairmont. It was during this period that the famous Sazerac Bar and Blue Room were opened. The hotel flourished for a number of years and hosted any number of famous entertainers and stars, including: Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly. But, the good times came to an end when the hotel was severely damaged during Katrina in 2005 and closed.
Happily, the property has since undergone a massive $170 million restoration. The remodeled 504-room, 135-suite Roosevelt Hotel is currently operated as part of the Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts. Guest rooms are quite large and all feature walk-in closets, mini-bars, a multi-nozzle shower in the bathrooms and bathrobes. Suites are approximately 650 to over 1300-square feet. Larger suites have dining areas, extra half-baths and sleeper sofas. A rooftop pool provides exceptional views of the city and the popular bar is a dramatic spot for an evening nightcap.
The Waldorf Astoria Spa offers 10 private treatment rooms, hydrotherapy facilities, full-service salon and makeup. The Roosevelt restaurants include the highly-acclaimed Domenica, operated by Chefs John Besh and Alon Shaya, who was recently named James Beard Foundation “Best Chef of the South.” Domenica specializes in regional Italian dishes with southern and middle eastern influences.
The hotel’s iconic Sazerac Bar is also back in the spotlight. The historic Paul Ninas murals and long, burnished Walnut bar evoke New Orleans at its grandest. Sazeracs and Ramos Gin Fizzes can be enjoyed along with contemporary hand-crafted cocktails.
730 Bienville Street
A romantic courtyard with fountain and wrought iron furniture create a picture-perfect setting at the Hotel Mazarin. And, you’re likely to find an occasional wedding party to confirm the fairytale charm.
Large rooms with especially high ceilings, plantation shutters and black marble floors add to the romantic appeal. Recently remodeled, the Mazarin also boasts impressive technical amenities: iPod docking stations, imported linens, over-sized showers with rainmaker shower heads and bathrobes. Some rooms have shared balconies while others have small courtyards, filled with shrubs and greenery. A hearty breakfast is complimentary and all guests are greeted with a welcome drink.
Also on premises is Patrick’s Bar Vin, named a “Top-10 wine bar” by Gayot. An extensive wine menu is complimented by charcuterie and cheese plates. Bar owner, Patrick Van Hoorebeek is the founder of the Krewe of Cork – costumes from past Mardi Gras are elegantly displayed in the bar.
WINDSOR COURT HOTEL
300 Gravier Street
Central Business District
The Windsor Court Hotel’s “Iconic Roses” always greet customers in the lobby. One of the more luxurious properties in New Orleans, the Windsor Court Hotel, is the recipient of both Forbes Four Stars and AAA Four Diamonds Awards. All the hotel’s rooms are exceptionally large, with deep, rich carpets and four-poster beds. Mirrored dressing areas are also quite roomy. In-room wet bars, with a wide choice of beverages and snacks, are also impressive.
An afternoon tea is beautifully served in Le Salon, while an extensive martini and drink menu is available at the hotel’s Polo Lounge. Gorgeous views of New Orleans can be enjoyed at the rooftop bar as well. The Windsor Court Hotel is four blocks from the French Quarter and within walking distance to the Riverfront and shopping areas.
1133 Chartres St.
Built in 1830 and maintained to perfection, the Soniat House is filled with Oriental rugs and antiques throughout the lobby and common areas. Tastefully chosen contemporary art complements the centuries old decor. Lush courtyards are also available for guests to enjoy with afternoon cocktails or for breakfast–all with prompt, impeccable service.
The Soniat House is well-located on one of the quieter streets in the Quarter, but still very much in the center of all the action. The hotel has 20 rooms and 13 suits, some of which have hot tubs. Room amenities include L’Occitane toiletries and goose-down pillows.
1024 Chartres St.
Located a few blocks away from the Soniat House, still on sedate Chartres, is Hotel Provincial. Cute and inviting, the property is a good value in the Quarter. A large portrait of Napoleon hangs in the lobby – a reminder that, although thoroughly modernized, the buildings are some of the oldest in the Quarter. Rooms face onto courtyards with two pools. Continental breakfast is included and served in the pretty main courtyard which includes a fountain and wrought iron tables.
GRAND VICTORIAN BED & BREAKFAST
2727 St. Charles Ave.
This charming bed & breakfast transports guests to New Orleans’ Antebellum past. Lovingly maintained parlors and beautifully appointed guest rooms make for a memorable stay. Each of the eight suites has unique features — all equally appealing: including stained glass windows, private balconies, or hot tubs. A Continental breakfast is served on either a large balcony overlooking gardens or in an attractive dining room.
The Grand Victorian is a block and a half from the legendary Commander’s Palace restaurant and the French Quarter can be reached by riding the St. Charles street car that runs along the front of the property.