Whatever your reason for going to New Orleans, staying in the French Quarter immerses you in the city's history, charm and identity. And if you want a hotel with a balcony, the French Quarter is where you will find it, along with antiques shops along Royal Street, jazz clubs, bars where partying goes on all night along Bourbon, and dining delights to be found nowhere else at the renowned Antoine's, Galatoire's and Brennan's, along with affordable and scrumptious Cajun restaurants around nearly every corner.
In 1830, a Louisiana planter, Joseph Soniat, built two townhouses next to each other in the French Quarter so he would have a home in the city. A few years later his son built a townhouse next door. Fast forward to the last years of the 20th century, when Rodney and Frances Smith bought all three properties in the residential section of the French Quarter and combined them to make the Soniat House, named one of the best hotels in the world by Travel & Leisure in 2003. From its spiral stairway to its brick courtyard surrounded by greenery to its balconied and sumptuously furnished guest rooms in the French style, this luxury boutique hotel exudes New Orleans and all it symbolizes. Its numerous plaudits include this one from Gourmet magazine: "Gently the door swings open. Two courtly porters lead us into a stone carriageway by the light of a million flickering candles. It is the most exquisite entrance on Earth."
Royal Sonesta New Orleans
The Royal Sonesta New Orleans sits right in the middle of the action in the French Quarter on fabled Bourbon Street. Its nearly 500 rooms sport iron lace balconies, French doors and gabled windows, along with formal French decor. Greenery and fountains surround the courtyard's pool -- a spot of serenity on Bourbon Street. And the lobby of the Royal Sonesta isn't just a lobby -- it's the home of Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse, where you'll hear the music that made New Orleans famous, seven nights a week, with no cover charge. PJ's Coffee Bar, also in the lobby, offers up New Orleans-style coffee, tea and pastries. The Desire Oyster Bar, a street-level bistro in the hotel, can fulfill that craving for Cajun just steps from your room.
The Inn on Bourbon
The Inn on Bourbon stands on the site of the Old French Opera House at Bourbon and Toulouse streets, in the heart of the French Quarter. Inside this medium-size hotel are newly refurbished guest rooms in New Orleans style, with French doors and balconies overlooking the street or courtyard. The Cafe de l'Opera offers up a full Southern breakfast buffet every morning, and the Puccini Bar gives you a place to land for a nightcap. The Inn on Bourbon, a Ramada Plaza hotel, puts you within walking distance of Jackson Square and Canal Street and about a mile from the Louisiana Superdome.
Le Richelieu Hotel
Le Richelieu, on Chartres Street in the quieter section of the French Quarter, offers an affordable alternative but still exudes charm and ambiance. Its 86 rooms were renovated in the mid-2000s in a somewhat laid-back French style; some have balconies and French doors. The Terrace Cafe serves breakfast and lunch daily, and the Terrace Lounge is open all day, from 7 a.m. to midnight. Just a pleasant reminder that this is New Orleans. A saltwater pool graces its small inner courtyard. Among its accolades is this one from Travel & Leisure: "The best quality buy in the French Quarter is Le Richelieu … a masterpiece of restoration, now a comfortable and tasteful 86-room hotel."
- new orleans balconies image by Elly from Fotolia.com