Finding interesting hotels in NOLA

I’ve probably stayed in at least 30 different hotels in New Orleans over the years and each has given me a different kind of experience, some great and some not so much. From boutique hotels, to Airbnbs, to the big chains, each has its pros and cons.

Hotel location is always an asset in NOLA. Parking prices  can quickly add up if you’re moving your car from place to place as well as the difficulty in trying to deal with one way streets and tiny spaces, so staying somewhere near the French Quarter that doesn’t cost un bras et une jambe is your best bet. Valeting your car can cost you nearly half the price of your hotel. Staying in the quarter is certainly convenient, but sometimes the crowds and noise can be a little annoying. This can make the nearby warehouse district a better option during busy times. If you catch a good deal on Spirit or Southwest, you might be able to fly in for less than the price of parking your car. Here’s some of my favorite picks on both sides of Canal Street.

Ace Hotel– I recently stayed at this boutique hotel which was formerly a furniture store. The rooms are all new, designed from scratch, rather than re-branded.  The rooms are big and open with full size green retro-looking refrigerators in the room, a funky wrap around drape to make the bathroom more private and a lot of creative furnishings. The room decor is some of the most unique I’ve ever seen with hand painted antiques mixed with modern touches. The lobby is a one of the most happening spots in the area with a great old fashioned bar, an amazing coffee shop that creates the perfect cappuccino , and an oyster bar a few doors down with creative recipes and a lobster roll sandwich to die for.

Hotel Monteleone– one of NOLA’s oldest hotels has a great location in the French Quarter and perhaps the most interesting bar in the city. The carousel bar rotates just fast enough so that when you go to the bathroom, you’re half convinced you’ve lost your date or your mind. The rooms aren’t exactly spacious, but there’s a traditional New Orleans old world charm that makes the trade-off worthwhile. You can’t get any more Old School NOLA than the Monteleone.

Cornstalk Hotel– If it’s good enough for Elvis, it’s usually good enough for me. There’s a lot more reasons to stay in The Cornstalk Hotel other than the fact that The King used it as his headquarters when filming Kid Creole, or that Bill and Hilary stayed there. This photogenic Bed and Breakfast was built at the beginning of the 19th century and is one of New Orleans’s oldest hotels. Besides being located in the center of the action on Royal Street, the Cornstalk is considered to be one of NOLA’s most haunted hotels. You probably won’t spot the ghost of Elvis, but many passersby have witnessed ghostly children playing outside and even stranger than that, some guests have discovered photos of themselves sleeping in their rooms taken on their own cameras. Who took the pictures? Maybe that’s where the word “stalker” comes from… Cornstalk hotel ghosts…

The Floating Villa– Looking for a unique get away with some local flavor? You can rent a floating villa, a houseboat of sorts, and stay on Lake Ponchartrain near New Orleans. You can dock your boat and jet skis or go fishing right off the back porch. The villa sleeps up to eight people, so you can bring your extended family to your home away from home.The villa has access to a swimming pool, hot tub, restaurant and bar. There are shuttles into the quarter if you don’t want to drive or deal with parking.

Place d’Armes- There’s something wonderful about walking out of your room and being in the middle of Jackson Square without a ten minute hike. Literally across the street from the famous square is Place d’Armes. This traditional hotel has a great courtyard, cool balconies and sums up the essence of the French Quarter. Downside: you might get a brick wall instead of a window. Upside: Location, location, location. You’re unlikely to be kept up all night by the party crowd (with a brick wall to cushion the noise) or awakened too early by the garbage trucks. If you’re a Cafe Du Monde fan, you’re only a block away. If you feel a sudden need to buy some art, ride in a carriage, take a picture of a living statue. or have your palm read, you can’t get any closer than this.

Royal Sonesta– I’ve had some great stays at the Sonesta and it’s right in the heart of the action. You can ride the mechanical bull at the Bourbon Cowboy across the street, grab some oysters at Acme, walk five minutes to Harrah’s casino or indulge in some seedy NOLA night life. Unfortunately, the night life gets a little too seedy when the quarter is hopping, and the riff raff downstairs can be a little disconcerting. If you stay off-peak, chances are you’ll get a good rate and avoid some of the amateur drinkers and wannabe bucket drummers. The Sonesta has it’s own restaurant and lots of rooms with balconies for the true Bourbon Street experience.

There’s 162 hotels in New Orleans, not including home-stays and Airbnbs so it’s doubtful that you’ll ever cross all of them off your list. Change it up a little and try some hotels with some personality. New Orleans is full of them. Life is too short for boring places.

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