New Orleans – Stay
So many friends have emailed me lately asking for New Orleans tips, that I decided to (finally) put together a list. I’ve been procrastinating on this one because it’s hard to winnow down all my favorite haunts into a short list. There are three parts to this list: where to stay, where to eat and drink and things to do.
My dad moved to New Orleans when I was a little girl and I usually visit a couple of times a year. I’ve done and seen it all, from Jazz Fest and Mardi Gras to the swamp and plantation tours. And I’ve eaten, yup, pretty much everything, too. While we’re still slushing through mud season, it’s generally breezy and in the 70’s in March and April (or raining, so be prepared). If you’re thinking of planning a Spring weekend getaway, here’s my list.
My dad’s house is a hub bub of activity; my father and his wife work out of the home and a herd of interns are in and out. If I’m after some peace and quiet, I don’t stay there. My absolute favorite hotel in NOLA is the Soniat House. These three early 19th century townhouses provide a luxurious and authentic experience. Every room is meticulously decorated with antiques, damask and comfy beds. You’ll feel as if you’re living in the French Quarter circa 1832. Hot biscuits and cafe au lait are served every morning in the lush courtyards or your room, and you can pop in to the elegant honor bar for a night cap. Peek into the in-house antique store for the latest containers from France. I adore it here. That said; my husband does not (although he gives in). The quirkiness gets to him and he found one of our rooms at the front of the house on the noisy side (ask to be off the street). We also stay quite often at The Royal Orleans. There are drawbacks: it’s now owned by Omni, the rooms are teeny, don’t bother with the restaurant, but if you can get a good rate, it’s so well located in the heart of the French Quarter, that you’ll forgive its few trespasses. The view of the Quarter from the roof top bar is stunning, and you’ll find a lovely outdoor pool and small gym up on the roof, too.
If you’re looking for something in the Quarter that’s fresh but not so dear, try Hotel St. Helene (handily right next to the Napoleon House). This historic town house has been completely renovated and the rooms sport a modern minimalist look. I haven’t stayed there but did check out a few of the rooms. (See below).
Boutique and older hotels in New Orleans can be on the dismal side, but newcomer Q & C in the up and coming Arts District looks like a winner. I stopped in to see it and was impressed by it’s vintage/modern feel and hipster vibe.
If you’re feeling flush, snag a suite at the Audubon Cottages, a private and serene oasis in the middle of the Quarter. One and two bedrooms surround the oldest swimming pool in New Orleans and John James painted Birds of America here.
Bedroom at the Soniat House
Soniat House view from the balcony
Hotel St. Helene Lobby
Me and my sister (a study in contrasts) in the Soniat House Courtyard