12 Places To Rest Your Head In The Big Easy
By Andrew Belonsky
To call New Orleans a melting pot would be an understatement. This crescent by the Gulf passed from French to Spanish and back to French hands before becoming part of the States in 1803. Plus, it's always had a strong connection to the Caribbean.
Even after that, though, New Orleans stood as a city apart, welcoming immigrants from the islands, particularly Haiti, and enjoying a comparatively liberal, three-tiered society in which select people of color could live free. That changed during the reconstruction, but the laissez-faire, joie de vivre attitude remained and remains strong.
If you're traveling to New Orleans for Mardi Gras this year, or Southern Decadence over Labor Day, or perhaps even the jazz festival held every spring, here are a few reliable places to bed and breakfast in the Big Easy.
The only real question to keep in mind is, "How close do I want to be to the action?" Do you want to be in the thick of it, in the non-stop party that is the French Quarter, or would you prefer to be walking distance, in downtown? Or maybe you prefer the residential atmosphere of the Garden District? Hopefully this will help make your decision a little easier.
This is only a sample of hotels we've visited, and we more than welcome your suggestions, so leave them in the comments to help us plan our next trip.
1.International House Hotel: The name International House Hotel may scream bed and breakfast, but the service and amenities at this elegant hotel make it more than a flop-house. Recent renovations brought a fresh wave of contemporary cool to the well-lit, airy standard rooms, while penthouses and suits feature oversized ottomans and marble showers fit for royalty. Local myths and rituals are woven throughout, and guests can experience the latest massage therapies in the hotel spa.
2.Soniat House: For those who want to really feel New Orleans's history, check out Soniat House, an auberge composed of three 19th Century townhouses. This enchanting property's unique touches, like private courtyards and original spiral staircases, and European touches give it its charm, while magnolias, sweet olive and ginger growing in the garden keep things fragrant. With a dedicated staff, and simple amenities, Soniat House offers guests a no-nonsense but nonetheless memorable stay. (Rooms start at $225/night.)
3. Le Marais: If you want to be Bourbon Street but away from the noise, we suggest Hotel Le Marais, a "boutique" hotel with an emphasis on boutique: the rooms are quite tight, though still perfectly functional for the fashionista, hipsters and influencers it courts. Deep, poppy purples dominate in this luxury hotel, and trendy is the name of the game, but then there are also charming details, such as gas light lamps, that add a classic touch and hark back to the city's rich history. (Rates depend upon date and availability, but this is a pricier hotel.)
4. Orleans Hotel One of the Wyndham properties, the elegant Bourbon Orleans Hotel remains a favorite for gays looking for a grand stay in Crescent City. Only a block away from Bourbon Street, and crawling distance from many of the city's gay bars, guests can revel in the city's ongoing party while also enjoying a taste of true class while sipping mint juleps on overstuffed couches under the hotel's many regal chandeliers. (Using online booking sites, it's possible to get rooms starting at $190/night.)
5. Court Hotel: A luxury hotel inspired by the famous royals, the Windsor Court (pictured) aesthetic rests on deep, dark woods, 17th and 18th century art, intricate moldings and an elegant sage-green, ocean-blue and saddle-tan palate. A roof deck and pool provide a perfect place to have a pre-dinner drink in the warmer months, and new chef Kristin Butterworth will keep you well fed with Claire Island Salmon and sweet potato hash and buttermilk fried poussin, a regional favorite. (Rooms start at about $275-300/night.)
6. Orleans Hilton New Orleans/St Charles Ave: Located on St. Charles Avenue, right in the center of town and walking district from both the French Quarter and the Garden District, this Hilton outpost offers the company's always-glittering 4-star service and amenities while adding a touch of aesthetic eccentricities -- bold floral patterns and Napoleonic wallpaper in blush -- that channel New Orleans's vibrancy. This is a comfortable, reliable and convenient option for those visiting Crescent City. (It's possible, if traveling off season, to get rooms from $160-210/night.)