New Orleans Hotels - Prime Location
Recovery Status for Fall 2006:
New Orleans is well on its way back to re-claiming its place as a fully functional tourist destination. The recovery was aptly demonstrated with decisions to hold Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest celebrations in Spring 2006 as usual, as well as by Tulane's "miracle" graduation ceremony that featured past Presidents Bush and Clinton. In fact, all five New Orleans universities—Tulane, Loyola, Xavier, the University of New Orleans, and Dillard—have reopened
All but a few of the 13 airlines that serviced the City are shuttling flights in and out of the City. Taxis, bus service and the street care are functioning. Touro, Tulane and Charity hospitals have all been reopened for months. It is reported at the close of summer 2006 that 103 out of 140 metropolitan area hotels are open, with over 70% of the original 38,000 hotle rooms available. Of these rooms two-thirds are open to visitors, while the remaining third is contracted to various agencies. Ninety percent of downtown hotels are open, however, the Fairmont and the Ritz Carlton continue to be closed for renovation. Both are expected to re-open by the end of the year. Remediation contractors in all the restored hotels conduct room-by-room assessments against EPA standards. After remediation work is completed, the clearance process includes visual inspection, as well as sampling for airborne fungal spores and ongoing monitoring. Restaurants are re-opening daily with any of the famous chefs back in their aprons, including Paul Prudhomme, Susan Spicer Donald Link and John Besh. Before any establishment serving food can be reopened it is examined by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals for compliance with all regulations regarding water safety and food handling. To give you a better sense of the situation you should call ahead to your hotel and favorite restaurants to be sure they are ready for you or check on the site here for opening status. Air and water are safe for visitors (government air testing results). Harrah's Casino, the convention center and Riverwalk are open, as are museums including Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Contemporary Arts Center, the National D-Day Museum and the Aquarium of the Americas.
This page details our top, all around hotel recommendations for New Orleans that are easy to reach on major downtown thoroughfares, with ready parking facilities, and within an easy stroll of the French Quarter. This is the New Orleans hotel overview page. You can also jump directly to an overview of the major chain properties in town, or you can click here for hotels in the French Quarter, or click here for hotels in uptown New Orleans, or click here for a page about some exotic mansions and guesthouses. If the geographic references for New Orleans don't make sense, then click here for city layout information. If you want to jump directly to a page about New Orleans restaurants, then click here. Or click here for a page about the best things to do while you're in town, and to start at the top click here for the New Orleans Guide Executive Summary.
1. Wyndham New Orleans at Canal Place - This hotel from the Wyndham chain deserves special mention because it has probably the best location of any hotel in town, particularly for a first time visitor, or if you are looking to make a special New Orleans impression on your companions. The hotel is located technically (but not practically) inside the French Quarter, adjoining Canal Place mall and across the street from the Harrah’s casino. From this premium vantage point on a bend of the river, the Wyndham Canal Place commands a unique view of the riverboat traffic and the French Quarter. No other hotel in town has quite the same unobstructed view of the river (although some of the taller hotels can give you a pretty impressive river view if you get the right room). Capitalizing on the location, the Wyndham has a spectacular 29th floor roof top pool. The rose marble and wood lobby on the eleventh floor is worth a visit for a drink at the bar wherever you might stay in town because of the impressive use of space that is designed to take maximum advantage of the two-story-high windows overlooking the river. The Wyndham is easy to access and has none of the usual French Quarter vehicle parking problems. With the adjoining mall, drive-up parking, direct vehicle access to Canal Street, and the visual connection with the French Quarter, this hotel is ideal for the novice New Orleans traveler. Note that Wyndham bought the hotel from Westin and it is still called “Westin Canal Place” in some older guidebooks. Wyndham also boasts other choice properties in town, including a French Quarter location and the historic Whitney on Poydras Street that was beautifully converted from a nineteenth century bank (for more detail on the other Wyndham properties, see section on Chain Hotels). 100 Rue Iberville Street, New Orleans, LA 70130. 504-566-7006 - www.wyndham.com. Specifications - 438 rooms, 41 suites, Riverbend Grill restaurant, casino, bar, pool, full hotel amenities.
2. Windsor Court Hotel - Tell any reservation agent in New Orleans that your stay is with the Ritz or the Windsor Court and you will almost hear the sound of your personal stock on the rise. Voted one of the ten best hotels in the country in more than one travel magazine poll, the Orient-Express Windsor Court greets you with the polished theme of old world aristocracy. The Ritz-Carlton is a prettier building (the Windsor Court exterior is nothing to be excited about). Safely inside you can expect roses, reproduction furniture, oil paintings, and a full-service staff that can surprise you with welcomed extras like complimentary car service to a restaurant that is difficult to find. The Le Salon tearoom on the first floor, and the award winning New Orleans Grill restaurant is on the second floor, the beneficiary of a recent, $1,000,000 renovation. A jazz trio plays nightly in the Polo bar. Surprisingly, few top New Orleans hotels have good swimming pools: Windsor Court is a noted exception. There is a fifth-floor pool with fountain fixtures, a Jacuzzi, and a staffed fitness room. The giant Harrah’s Casino opened across the street in 1999. Canal Place mall is on the other side of Canal Street and the French Quarter a block away. The rooms provide river and city view. Riverview rooms command a premium rate, but the city view should not be underestimated for its unique charm, particularly early and late in the day. 300 Gravier Street, New Orleans, LA 70130. 504-523-6000 - www.windsorcourthotel.com. Specifications - 58 rooms, 266 suites, 2 penthouses, pool, two restaurants, bar, health club, parking, event rooms, car service, full hotel amenities.
3. Hotel Monaco – The marvelously eccentric Hotel Monaco opened in 2001 at the site of the old Masonic Temple in the Central Business District four blocks from the Quarter on St. Charles Avenue. The Masonic Temple was built in 1926 with a vaulted entranceway and cathedral-size meeting rooms. Kimpton Boutique Hotels have lovingly appropriated the space for their New Orleans Monaco. The zebra upholstery lounge harks engagingly back to Kipling’s India and the fitness room, in a capacious former chapel, is the most unusual you will find in any New Orleans Hotel. The rooms carry that “meet me in the Casbah” theme and you will imagine yourself from time to time in outtakes of Casablanca. For a bouti que hotel that obviously has a certain shtick to uphold, it must be said that the Monaco’s presentation is cohesive and fairly intuitive- they stop just short of being too cute. If you have a get-away mentality the Monaco theme may appeal to you. There is a theme of rambunctious, wanderlust about the décor, but at the same time they pay attention to cozy details, like the unusual pet-friendly policy (and if you don’t have a pet, they provide you with a goldfish in your room). 333 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130. 866-685-8359 - www.monaco-neworleans.com/index.htm. Specifications – 250 rooms, 22 “Mediterranean” suites plus additional “Majestic” suites, restaurant, bar, health club, parking, event rooms, full hotel amenities.
4. W Hotel - W Hotels opened two New Orleans properties in early 2000 after taking over the old Crowne Plaza Hotel on Poydras Street and the De La Poste on Chartres Street in the French Quarter (these properties are still listed as their former names in some older guidebooks). Strictly speaking W is a chain, but the individual hotels are becoming known for its stylish signature hotels opening in a number of big cities. The old Crowne Plaza was 23 floors of panoramic city views built downtown for the 1984 World’s Fair. The comprehensive city and river views are preserved, but W reworked the decor throughout. Rooms boast down comforters, high thread count sheets, CD players and 27” TVs with Internet access. The lobby and bar areas are so fashionable that the W has its furniture designs up for sale so you can take a piece of the W home with you. It can be reported that the Poydras Street W Hotel does far more with the stylish, fresh, pop culture approach than many other W Hotels around the country, including those in Manhattan. The lobby on the ground and second floor has hard wood maple floors joined by a winding marble stairway. Nickel plate signs direct guests to hotel areas with cryptic names like “strategy” and “industry”. Expect an eye-opening display of stylish sofas, furry pillows and traditional board games (Chinese checkers, backgammon, etc.) with oversized and redesigned play pieces. There is a useful-looking juice bar in the central lobby that serves as a more traditional bar at night. The main bar, Whiskey Blue, is backlit in a deep and mystical cobalt blue with every chair, sofa and ashtray intended to offset your notion of conventional hotel design. Some will be enchanted by this effort, particularly set against the backdrop of conservative downtown New Orleans. Others may find the W’s design pretentious, but when it opened the W display was the talk of the town (at least until the new Ritz-Carlton on Canal Street opened). The Poydras Street location is a few blocks from the French Quarter on one of the main downtown streets on the Mardi Gras parade route (see separate listing for the W French Quarter property). 333 Poydras Street, New Orleans, LA 70130. 505-525-9444 – www.whotels.com. Specifications - 400 rooms, 23 suites, pool, bar, restaurant, fitness room, 10 conference rooms, business services, full hotel amenities.
5. Le Pavillion - Le Pavillion is a scrupulously restored wedding cake of a hotel from a fine tradition that is seated in what has become over the years a terrible location. If it is possible to consider it in a vacuum, without regard to the immediate neighborhood and somewhat inconvenient distance to the French Quarter, then the 1907 Le Pavillion, with its Sun King appointments is the most glamorous (and perhaps the most expensively gaudy) hotel in New Orleans. However, this baroque treat of harp music, flowing plaster and high ceilings is slapped out of its dream state by the glaring presence of its coarse neighbors: on one side a windowless municipal building and on the other a lavender/gray Comfort Suites Hotel. With the exception of Le Pavillion itself, with its carved cherubs and vaulted circular drive, there is not a building worth looking at in a block radius. The walking distance to the French Quarter down Barrone Street through this business district no-man’s land is awkward. If you have full car service or if you don’t expect to leave the hotel during your visit, and particularly if you can get one of the three overdressed and dazzling suites, then by all means, stay at Le Pavillion. (If you are tempted to visit Le Pavillion, then be sure to ask for their ten-page hotel brochure which is a knockout presentation.) 221 Camp Street, New Orleans, LA 70112. 800-535-9095- www.lepavillion.com. Specifications - 219 rooms, 3 suites, meeting rooms, bar, roof pool, fitness room, parking, full hotel amenities.
6. International House - Self-billed as “the soulful essence of New Orleans”, the International House is a modern boutique hotel which manages to create an intimate atmosphere defying the traditional notion of a downtown, full-service property. Instead of a hotel, the International House looks like a Manhattan arts foundation. The decor is sufficiently stylish that it has been featured in architectural magazines; the hotel has also been publicized in Conde Nast Traveler and Southern Living. More and more the International House is publicized as the hotel of choice for celebrities. Yes, that’s incense you smell in the 23-foot ceilinged lobby. Rooms have the homey touch of ceiling fans and are decorated with framed photos of New Orleans jazz legends. Accommodations are equipped with CD players, down comforters, waffle terry cloth robes, glass showers with dual shower heads and two-line telephones. The bar, which is as stylish as the rest of the hotel, is a local favorite. 221 Camp Street, New Orleans, LA 70130. 504-553-9550 - www.ihhotel.com. Specifications - 119 rooms, 3 suites, parking, bar, restaurant, meeting rooms, fitness center, full hotel amenities.
7. Lafayette Hotel - One of the prestigious Small Luxury Hotels of the World group, the Lafayette promises traditional service, furnishings and fixtures and a display of refined taste. On delivery the Lafayette can come up a fraction short of the promise. The staff is not always as sharp as that of the Ritz or the Windsor Court and the bathroom fixtures in some rooms can be a little too quaint for modern preferences (for instance, the penetrating, tight focus showerheads). If you appreciate a conventional, non-ostentatious luxury hotel or if you want a setting that de-emphasizes the clatter and clash of the French Quarter, this is a good choice that is frequently recommended in trusted guidebooks. The hotel was built in 1916 and has an unbeatable downtown location for those with business at the state and federal courthouses. At seven blocks the distance is longer to the French Quarter than any of the other properties recommended in this section, however, the walk up St. Charles Avenue is pleasant and idiot proof for navigators by virtue of the streetcar tracks. Upon arrival at the Lafayette you will sense the promise of a great hotel from the handsome traditional architecture. Mike Ditka’s woody sports bar is downstairs behind thick shutters and “Iron Mike” has taken over the restaurant also. The guestrooms are comfortable and well appointed, but generally not oversized. They often feature four poster beds and understated furnishing and decor. 600 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, 70130. 504-524-4111 - www.slh.com. Specifications - 24 rooms, 20 suites, parking, restaurant, bar, full hotel amenities.
8. Pelham Hotel - The Pelham might be considered the less established little brother of the Layfayette hotel: a tasteful destination that is well-suited for business travelers who like something smaller, finer and less bustling than the standard convention hotel. The Pelham is also somewhat of a sleeper, a not well known but exceptionally well turned out hotel with a great location on a quiet side street just a block from the Quarter. The building is a converted office and is listed as a historic landmark. It gives a welcoming appearance upon arrival with four-story construction and gray and beige trim around the window arches. The lobby is small and functional and there is a single elevator, but the guest features are unusually comfortable. The small rooms, often with four-poster or partial canopy beds, have high back chairs and marble baths with brass fixtures and gooseneck faucets. The quality of the room service food (from the modern and stylishly decorated Huey's Diner downstairs) is superior to many hotels. It should be noted that exceptional views of New Orleans are not available here and some interior rooms are without windows altogether. 444 Common Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130. 504-522-4444 - www.thepelhamhotel.com. Specifications - 60 rooms, 4 suites, restaurant, fitness and pool provided through the neighboring Sheraton Hotel, full hotel amenities.
9. Omni Royal Crescent - This small, boutique hotel, part of the Omni chain, is distinguished by its location on a quiet street near the Pelham, Windsor Court and Le Meridien, just two blocks from Canal Street and the French Quarter. One of the first things you might notice about this property is the generous size of the windows, a generosity that is a trademark of the fixtures of this hotel. The Royal Crescent, with its pronounced Grecian theme, is more intimate and stylish than the Pelham, at least in the public areas. The front lobby is small and the front entrance modest, but the rooms are a cut above most hotel chain offerings. Faux plaster relief pieces grace the hallways, which are dark and intimate with shaded green lights and a doorknocker on each room door. The rooms are furnished with sleek reproductions and high, butternut-colored headboards over the queen-sized beds. Rooms have nice touches like fax machines, cotton sheets, slippers and robes. The hotel has other intimate touches, including a small roof top pool and lounge, a fitness center and a lobby-level sitting room with a (nonfunctional) fireplace. 535 Gravier Street, New York, NY 70130. 504-527-0006 - www.omnihotels.com. Specifications - 98 rooms, 7 suites, restaurant, pool, fitness center, parking, full hotel amenities.
10. The Fairmont Hotel - The Fairmont is the grande dame hotel of New Orleans. The Fairmont is part of the Fairmont luxury chain, but the New Orleans Hotel has a distinct and individual history. Opened as the Grunewald (later re-named the Roosevelt, and then the Fairmont-Roosevelt), this property was built in time to meet the 1893 Mardi Gras season. Many of the features (glittering overhang entrance, white-gloved doormen, sloping lobby, two tennis courts) speak of a past generation of hotel elegance. The two lobby bars, the Sazerac and the Fairmont Court, are priceless institutions with their hand crafted wood work, glowing black lacquer chairs and period fixtures (for instance, the Sazerac bar displays the 1878 Astor Cup horseracing trophy). Sadly, the famous “Cave” nightclub in the basement, with stalactites and waterfalls, is now no more than a laundry room. To enjoy the Fairmont as a hotel guest, however, there need be certain sympathy for the aging fixtures of a period hotel. The piano bar is reasonably lively in the evening and during the Mardi Gras season the Fairmont is ground zero for the most exclusive social events in town. The northern portion of the French Quarter is only a block away. 123 Baronne Street, New Orleans, LA 70140. 504-529-7111 - www.fairmontneworleans.com . Specifications - 700 rooms, 85 suites, three restaurants, two bars, pool, fitness center, parking, beauty salon, full hotel amenities.
And one more: Ritz-Carlton - For decades the old Maison Blanche department store on the French Quarter side of Canal Street was a meringue treat of flowing plaster. In early 2000 the entire interior was torn out and combined with the adjacent Kress department store in order to build a new Ritz-Carlton within the ornate shell of the old retail stores. The proud exterior of the new Ritz is as intriguing as any hotels in town, except the opulent Le Pavillion. Ritz, with its flair for world-class appointments, pays particular attention to the magnolia-scented glories of traditional New Orleans. The result of combining two department stores is both good and bad, and the new Ritz has endured rumors of a weak financial showing since it opened. The layout is broken up into different public areas on different floors. Unlike the Windsor Court, the Ritz was constructed with no allowance for a pool nor a particularly large main lobby (although the all of the Ritz public areas are reasonably spacious). The Ritz, however, is superior to the Windsor Court in the imagination, subtlety and individuality of the décor in its public areas, notably the Library Bar and Victor’s Restaurant. Technically, the Ritz is in the French Quarter, but direct vehicular access to Canal Street earns it a place in our top category. The New Orleans Ritz-Carlton is the first five-star hotel property opened in New Orleans since 1985. The venture is the result of a $200 million renovation/construction plan. It brings to New Orleans a 2,000 square foot spa on two floors. 921 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA 70112. 504-524-1331 - www.ritzcarlton.com. Specifications - 452 rooms, 1 Ritz-Carlton suite, 70 Ritz-Carlton club rooms on a private floor with private lounge and concierge, twice daily maid service, pool with bar, fitness center, 3 bars, restaurant, ballroom, junior ballroom, boardroom, 13 meeting rooms, full hotel amenities. The five-star, French/Creole restaurant, Victor’s, has and a pricey menu.
© Copyright 2006 Chris Cloud.
Last update: 9/5/2006; 8:34:13 PM.