New Orleans Hotels - the French Quarter
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.
If you want to jump directly to other, detailed hotel information, please click here for our top, all around hotel recommendations, or click here for an overview of the major chain properties in town. You can click here for hotels in uptown New Orleans, or click here for a page about some exotic mansions and guesthouses. If these 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.
Soniat House - The Soniat House is perhaps the best example of what you might expect from popular notions of New Orleans elegance and French Quarter tradition. If you want the old grace of the French Quarter, unmarred by blaring music and boozy party streets, this is an excellent stay. The hotel is in a vital yet secluded corner of the Quarter, nearby to main attractions but set off from the main streets. Through the green doors you enter into a courtyard surrounded by three handsomely restored 1829 townhouses with flowing staircases, hardwood floors, exposed brick and Oriental rugs. There is a small common room near the check in area that offers an “honor bar.” The décor throughout is traditional French Quarter Creole. The rooms are appointed with antique furniture collected by the proprietor (who operates an antique store adjacent to the hotel property). Some rooms have exposed beams, some have four-poster beds. The row of upstairs rooms at the base price level are arguably overpriced given the limit of the public areas offered. Expect luxury hotel amenities (goose down pillows, 200-count cotton percale bedlinens and scented soap). Soniat house also offers the burnished traditional fixtures and the echoing koi-pond-like tranquillity of 19th Century New Orleans. Note that children under 12 are not welcomed. 1133 Chartres Street, New Orleans, LA 70116. 504-522-0570 – www.soniathouse.com. Specifications - 20 rooms, 13 suites, parking, business services, full hotel amenities.
Royal Sonesta - If you are looking for everything at once in your French Quarter hotel, the Royal Sonesta may be the best choice because it does a great job of covering more bases than any other hotel in the Quarter. The Bourbon Street location is at the center of happening New Orleans. But the Royal Sonesta makes no apologies for the noise, the cluttered traffic or the boozy atmosphere. Instead, this block-long hotel keeps its chandeliers polished, its lush potted plants well watered, and offers up a remedy for every inconvenience while holding your front row seat to the party. Royal Sonesta offers the privilege of an underground parking garage with double access from both Conti and Bienville Streets. The hotel has handsome interior arcades cut through to street access on three sides. There are multiple restaurants, function rooms, interior shops, a pool and a classic New Orleans patio with fountains and exotic plants and trees (even a lemon tree). You may find the guestrooms slightly on the small side, but the variety of rooms offers the option of balconies overlooking several different streets, some boisterous and some quieter. So, if you crave Bourbon Street, the Royal Sonesta can deliver a prime balcony vantage that surveys the busiest section while also offering a view of the downtown high rises. You can have a more quiet interior room, or a more secluded balcony literally a block away from the hordes of Bourbon Street. 300 Bourbon Street, New Orleans, LA 70140. 504-568-0300 - www.sonesta.com. Specifications - 498 rooms, 32 suites, 2 restaurants, bar, fitness room, pool, meeting and function rooms, business services, parking, full hotel amenities.
Le Richelieu in the French Quarter - Consistently recommended in magazines and guidebooks, Le Richelieu is the hotel for the well-informed everyman; it boasts all the best essential features and offers an exceptional bargain. The location is almost across the street from Soniat House (see Soniat House listing). To emphasize - this is not a luxury hotel of the lofty caliber of many other listings highlighted here. But in every way that counts, Le Richelieu is a clear cut above many chain hotel offerings. A notable endorsement is that Paul McCartney resided in a suite of Le Richelieu for several months in the early 1970s while recording the album, “Venus and Mars.” The hotel is located in the southeast section of the quarter, safe and quiet from the throbbing of Bourbon Street, but within blocks of the French Market. The front entrance is organized, welcoming and well kept. The check-in area gives the impression of an intimate hotel that is proud of itself. Rooms are smaller, a little yellowed, but in good repair. They feature hair dryers and the fashion toiletries found in quality hotels. There is a bar overlooking a small, secluded pool area that doubles as a New Orleans style courtyard. Breakfast is served in this courtyard area and there are a few balcony rooms overhead. 1234 Chartres Street, New Orleans, LA 70116. 504-529-2492 - www.lerichelieuhotel.com. Specifications - 69 rooms, 17 suites, pool, parking, bar, full hotel amenities.
Hotel Maison de Ville - One of the prestigious Small Luxury Hotels of the World group, this frequently recommended hotel may have a more European/east coast ethic than its luxury category competitors, but the Creole cottages on the property help make up the difference. Because of the European feel, the rooms in the main building can seem more familiar to some guests, but the décor is at the expense of some traditional New Orleans flavor. The intimate reception and lobby offer a gas fireplace, exposed brickwork, a grandfather clock and 19th Century-theme artwork and furnishings. There is a fountain courtyard (this courtyard is marginally less secluded and less lush than some others in the French Quarter which typically echo with the sound of falling water within enclosed stone walls). The address matches the intimate, yet premium-label theme of the hotel: Bourbon Street is a block away but this stretch of Toulouse Street is remarkably quiet. A number of rooms boast four poster beds, hardwood floors, dark wood furnishings and brass fixtures. The hotel has been praised in Conde Nast Traveler, Gourmet Magazine and the Hideaway Report. The adjacent restaurant of the same name is highly regarded. Note that children under the age of 12 are not welcomed. 727 Toulouse Street, New Orleans, LA 70130. 504-561-5858 - www.maisondeville.com. Specifications - 14 rooms, 2 suites, 7 cottages (these offer a small pool), restaurant, parking, full hotel amenities.
W Hotel (French Quarter) - Sweeping into town at the end of the last century, W Hotels snapped up two sagging hotel properties and completely reinvigorated them with the W brand of style (see our W Hotel CBD listing for details on the design and amenities of these hotels). In the French Quarter, W bought the old De La Poste hotel that was suffering from a bad case of motor court syndrome. But De La Poste had three great assets and W has capitalized on each one. First is the great Chartres Street location that is relatively quiet, yet central to most everything going on in the French Quarter. Second is the drive-in parking - a rarity in the French Quarter. Third is a working relationship with the adjacent Brennan family Italian restaurant, Bacco. The decorating changes have been dramatic with the W design team going to work to deliver 45 different kinds of rooms out of the drab old De La Poste Hotel. The old 1950s-style pool area has been completely re-worked with paper lamps, candles and substantial hardwood lounge furniture that is comfortable and trendy, but there is some lack of traditional New Orleans character. 316 Rue Chartres, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130. 504-581-1200 - www.whotels.com. Specifications - 98 rooms, 2 suites carriage house with slightly larger rooms and semi-private patios, pool, drive-in parking, restaurant, full hotel amenities.
Omni Royal Orleans – Part of the Omni chain, the famous Royal Orleans is frequently distinguished on the list of the best hotels in the City. We feel we must include our qualified endorsement. The Royal Orleans was built as a replica of the famous 19th century St. Louis Hotel. The location in the center of the Quarter, across the street from the new courthouse, is impeccable and the white marble decor is striking enough to have attracted the attention of many film crews over the years. The front entrance is a grand, iron column affair with gas lighting with waiting doormen. Valet service with an enclosed parking lot around the corner ease the usual French Quarter car headaches. Conference rooms and business services are amply available. But it must be said that the Royal Orleans suffers from many small, somewhat aging rooms. Everything considered it has an ungenerous layout that compares poorly with a hotel like the Royal Sonesta. The New-World-theme entrance at the front of the Royal Orleans is a kind of trough from which one must walk up the marble stairs to a curiously narrow lobby. Access to the pool area is had via a circuitous route over and under a series of hallways. There is a reasonably nice (if distant) view of the river from the pool area, but the poolside furnishing is dated. The Rib Room restaurant is well regarded. Omni tends to include the Royal Orleans Hotel in its nationwide promotions so you can get a great deal if you are quick to respond to their publicized offers. 621 St. Louis Street, New Orleans, LA 70140. 504-529-5333 - www.omnihotels.com. Specifications - 346 rooms, 16 suites, restaurant, 3 bars, pool, hair and beauty shops, fitness room, business services and meeting rooms, parking, full hotel amenities.
Hotel Ste. Helene - A small, more modest hotel around the corner from the Royal Orleans, this property offers a wide variety of rooms at a wide variety of prices. The best of these rooms include the exceptional prize of a private balcony overlooking an excellent section of Chartres and St. Louis Streets. The hotel is comprised of two three-story buildings, each with its own courtyard. The famous Napoleon House bar is just downstairs. A lobby of exposed brickwork adjoins a small, interior fishpond with statuary, tapestries, and a fountain echoing the sound of falling water through the courtyard. The pool area in the main building is decorated with gaslight and small trees. Breakfast is served here in the small pool area and so is complementary afternoon champagne. The standard rooms are functional and on the small side, with whitewashed walls and large, gold-framed mirrors. If you have the resource to choose your room, be sure to look at the nicer rooms with 14-foot ceilings and chandeliers in addition to those prized balconies that can add so much to a French Quarter stay. 508 Chartres Street, New Orleans, LA 70130. 504-522-5014 - www.stehelene.com. Specifications - 26 rooms, 10 suites, pool, full hotel amenities, no elevator.
Olivier House - This eccentric hotel, family operated and popular with European guests, is on a quiet stretch of Toulouse Street near the Hotel Maison de Ville. The site is an 1836 townhouse (converted to a hotel in 1970) with a potluck of customized rooms, no two the same. There are even Creole cottages. Room 112 is an example of the incredible variety offered. It is split level with its own indoor fountain decorated in natural greenery, including a banana tree, while the bedroom is a loft upstairs serviced by a metal spiral staircase. Room 112 is furnished in modest wicker, while other rooms have canopy beds with antiques. Many of the rooms have balconies overlooking the three courtyards, alive with lush and twisted plant life. One courtyard has an aviary of tropical birds that are colorful to see (but the birds can be loud in the morning). Several rooms have kitchenettes and there is a small pool in one courtyard. The lobby is dark with a gas fireplace that sets a mood quite different in its elegance than the tropical themes of the courtyards. 828 Toulouse Street, New Orleans, LA 70112. 504-525-8456. Specifications - 42 rooms, 9 suites, pool, parking, full hotel amenities.
Lafitte Guest House - This small hotel, down Bourbon Street across from the famous Jean Lafitte Blacksmith Shop bar, is an old-world charmer similar to, but not quite as tranquil nor refined as Soniat House (see Soniat House listing). There is a rare combination here: An intimate, Victorian-theme bed-and-breakfast located in the middle region of Bourbon Street. The four-story 1850s house has been carefully restored with antiques resulting in a more European than traditional New Orleans feel, but there is no denying the heritage of Bourbon Street just outside, nor the traditional feel of the hotel courtyard. This hotel offers a great advantage because the proud proprietors make no mystery of what to expect: the hotel brochure insert describes each room in detail and there is a virtual tour available on line at www.lafitteguesthouse.com. The suite in room 40 is worth special mention - it takes up the entire fourth floor. The proprietors are involved and engaging, serving afternoon wine and appetizers as well as breakfast in bed as requested. 1003 Bourbon Street, New Orleans, LA 70116. 504-581-2678 - www.lafitteguesthouse.com. Specifications - 16 rooms, 2 suites, full hotel amenities, no smoking permitted.
Chateau Sonesta - Located on Iberville Street, taking up most of the block between Bourbon and Dauphine Streets, this hotel spent a year in the noise and dust of construction work for the new Ritz-Carlton hotel across the street. Chateau Sonesta, like the Ritz across the street, is on the site of an old department store (Sonesta is on the site of D. H. Holmes, famous from J. K. Toole’s book, A Confederacy of Dunces). The central location is off the beaten path, yet right near Bourbon Street. The Chateau Sonesta is not as central, as traditional, or as vital as the other New Orleans Sonesta property, the Royal Sonesta (see Royal Sonesta listing). But Chateau Sonesta has great features for a full-service French Quarter property. The features (including meeting rooms, parking and a swimming pool) make this hotel a good crowd-pleaser and a good second choice to the sister property Royal Sonesta. The Iberville Street off-street drive-up entrance is a rarity in the Quarter, and only a block from Canal Street. Most of the rooms are finer than the competing rooms of chain hotels, some retaining columns and beams from the old building structure. There are rooms with private balconies, some overlooking Bourbon Street and some overlooking the two interior courtyards. 800 Iberville Street, New Orleans, LA 70112. 504-586-0800 - www.sonesta.com. Specifications - 251 rooms, 11 suites, restaurant, bar, pool, meeting rooms, parking, drive-up access, fitness room, in-room modem lines.
Monteleone - Many locals proclaim that this old-line French Quarter hotel is one of the jewels of the City. The author Truman Capote always said that he was born at the Monteleone Hotel, though documentary evidence points to Touro Hospital uptown as his true point of origin. The pearlescent white facade gleaming out from the prime antique shopping stretch of Royal Street is a remarkable work of baroque decoration. The chandeliers in the lobby still shine over the grandfather clock and the Carousel Bar remains one of the most popular and distinctive hotel watering holes in the French Quarter. There is a 16th floor pool with expansive views that unfortunately include a lot of the rooftop air conditioning machinery of neighboring buildings. Above the lobby level, the Monteleone shows its age however, notwithstanding a 1996 renovation. The light is yellowed and the furnishing is often tired. The hotel is highly recommended in some guidebooks and certainly the hotel foyer and Carousel Bar are worth visiting while taking a stroll down Royal Street. Still, if you pay the tariff to stay at the Monteleone, you may feel cheated as you survey your aged room. Even if the romantic dream overtakes you, you will be snapped into reality if you pass an empty room during maid service to glance upon the naked sight of one of the Monteleone’s warped hotel mattresses. 214 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA 70140. 504-523-3341. Specifications - 598 rooms, 28 suites, 3 restaurants, pool, bar, fitness room, meeting rooms, business services, full hotel amenities.
© Copyright 2006 Chris Cloud.
Last update: 9/5/2006; 8:34:17 PM.