Even though most of your time will be spent out exploring the city, these are the best hotels and B&Bs to return to when you finally do need to sleep.
A friend once told me during the frenzy of music around the clock that’s characteristic of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, “You’ll sleep when you’re dead.”
Sure, that worked for me then, because I felt that going to bed early or taking a nap between events on my New Orleans vacation would cause me to miss something special. Nowadays, I do like my sleep, especially at some of the wonderful New Orleans hotels and B&Bs. And I know that in many cases if I miss some fun, I can always go back tomorrow.
Stay at the luxe chain hotels, such as Loews, Ritz-Carlton and W, and you can’t go wrong—they’re included in many lists of New Orleans’ best hotels. The famed Roosevelt Hotel closed after Hurricane Katrina, but will reopen in late spring 2009 as a Waldorf-Astoria Collection hotel. But my favorite New Orleans accommodations have always been the uniquely local places to lay your head.
This elegant hotel in the French Quarter has been run by the Monteleone family since 1886 and is well known for its excellent customer service. One of just three hotels in the United States that’s been designated a literary landmark, the Hotel Monteleone is featured in the works of Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams and Eudora Welty. As with many New Orleans French Quarter hotels, the Monteleone claims a handful of “permanent residents” in the form of ghosts. Get a libation at the Carousel Piano Bar & Lounge, and enjoy the musical entertainment while the carousel bar slowly revolves. And if you’re in town during a hot spell, don’t miss the rooftop pool, with views of the city. Deluxe rooms start at $129 per night. 214 Royal St., tel. 800-535-9595. www.hotelmonteleone.com
Tucked away in a quieter area of the French Quarter, the Soniat House is a romantic retreat from modern New Orleans. This non-smoking boutique hotel, located in three Creole townhouses, is studded with antique furnishings and features pretty little courtyards where you can relax among the magnolia and sweet olive trees. Bring your honey to this lovely little hideaway, but no children under 10 years old. Romance has some requirements. Doubles start at $240 per night. 1133 Chartres St., tel. 504-522-0570. www.soniathouse.com
Don’t let this hotel’s unassuming exterior in the Central Business District (CBD) fool you—the Windsor Court Hotel is one of the swankiest hotels in New Orleans and a meeting place for city society. The hotel is within walking distance from the French Quarter, and you can take afternoon tea in Le Salon, wander the halls to view the museum-quality art collection, or retreat to your spacious guestroom (almost all are suites). The hotel’s top four floors are dedicated to the Club Level, with breathtaking views, upgraded amenities, a dedicated concierge and access to the Club Lounge. Deluxe guest rooms start at $370 per night; Club guest rooms start at $525 per night. 300 Gravier St., tel. 888-596-0955. www.windsorcourthotel.com
Another hotel in the CBD, just a short walk from the Quarter, is the International House. Set in a Beaux Arts building, the hotel’s décor is more contemporary luxury than Old New Orleans. Rooms include books about the city and black-and-white photos of local musicians. Spa-style bathrooms feature large tubs and glassed-in showers. Swing by the Loa Bar (named after Voodoo’s divine spirits) for a beverage or nosh at La Rambla, with its French and Spanish menu. Deluxe rooms start at $99 per night. 221 Camp St., tel. 504-553-9550. www.ihhotel.com
Leave downtown New Orleans behind and venture to the Italianate, Greek Revival and Queen Anne Victorian mansions of the Upper Garden District along the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line. The Columns Hotel was designed by Thomas Sully, one of New Orleans’ celebrated architects, and built in 1883. Enjoy a cocktail in the Victorian Lounge, or walk outside to the grand front gallery and watch the world go by. Even if you don’t stay here, stop by for the hotel’s popular Sunday Jazz Brunch (reservations recommended). Rooms range from cozy to spacious, with Victorian furnishings. Some rooms feature St. Charles Avenue views and private balconies. Double rooms start at $120 per night. 3811 St. Charles Ave., tel. 800-445-9308. www.thecolumns.com
Because I like to feel like a local when I’m here, I prefer New Orleans’ B&Bs. You get a comfortable spot in a neighborhood, where you can sit on the porch in the afternoon and pretend you’re at home while you say hello to the local characters as they pass by. If you’re traveling with young children, inquire with the B&B whether they will be welcome. Some of the historic buildings with period furniture aren’t appropriate for kids.
When I’m not staying with friends, this is my home-away-from-home in New Orleans. This comfortable house is steps away from the French Quarter in the Marigny neighborhood, yet feels a world away from the bustle of Bourbon Street. All four guest rooms have 12-foot ceilings, antique furnishings and flat screen TVs with DVD players. Luscious continental breakfasts with freshly-baked pastries are included. Relax in the tropical courtyard or in a rocking chair on the front porch. Deluxe queen rooms start at $129 per night. 1421 Bourbon St., tel. 800-570-2014. www.lamaisonmarigny.com
Located in Mid-City, this Colonial Revival home is near City Park and a quick taxi ride to many popular New Orleans attractions. The building was completely restored in 2000 and upgraded post-Katrina. The eight rooms are furnished with antiques and reproductions, and most bathrooms have Jacuzzi tubs with showers. Doubles start at $99 per night. 120 South Pierce St., tel. 866-226-1896. www.1896omalleyhouse.com
This Thomas Sully-designed home was built in 1891 and is nestled among the oaks in the Upper Garden District. Within walking distance are the shops on Magazine Street, and numerous neighborhood restaurants and bars. Mardi Gras parades pass right in front of this house on St. Charles Avenue, which makes it a very convenient spot at carnival time. Doubles start at $79 per night. 4125 St. Charles Ave., tel. 800-490-8542. www.avenueinnbb.com
This little jewel of a B&B is tucked away just two blocks from St. Charles Avenue in the Garden District. All five guest rooms have private entrances that face a lush courtyard and range from cozy to a two-story loft. For those travelers who must have a car, free off-street parking is available. Doubles from $99. 1146 Constantinople St., tel. 504-899-2621.
Destinations: New Orleans
New Orleans Hotels Nice description of the hotels and B&Bs. Now I want to stay at all of them.