The city of New Orleans is known worldwide for its eclectic Cajun and Creole culture, jazz music and raucous Mardi Gras celebration. Rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 included sweeping renovations of many hotels in the city, from grand historical mansions to intimate guest houses and baroque architectural beauties. With several distinct sections of New Orleans to choose from, overnight visitors can sleep in peace or party the night away.
The French Quarter, where the city was settled by the French in 1718, is undoubtedly the most infamous part of New Orleans, as host to the elaborate Mardi Gras parades and balls. Throughout the year, live jazz and zydeco music drift through cobblestone streets and alleyways, while antique lovers roam in shops on Royal Street. Historic hotels here include the Monteleone, with its antique rotating Carousel Bar, and the Bourbon Orleans Hotel, which faces Bourbon Street with an elaborate ballroom that dates back to 1815. A block over on Canal Street, the luxurious Ritz-Carlton looms with the grandeur of an enormous antebellum mansion.
Right next to the French Quarter, the Faubourg Marigny district gives travelers a slightly quieter location while still being within walking distance to the nightlife of the Quarter. The Garland Guest House and Creole Cottages are an affordable option in the Treme neighborhood, just across the street from the Louis Armstrong Jazz Park, with a true-blue Southern breakfast of homemade biscuits and sausage gravy. On the edge of the lively Frenchman Street scene, the Royal Street Inn is a self-described bed-and-beverage establishment above the trendy R Bar. There's no breakfast here, but lots of beverage; guests even get a shot with a $10 haircut in their antique barber chair on Mondays.
The Garden District is big on the Southern bed-and-breakfast scene, with converted residences interchangeably referred to as Guest Houses. The Magnolia Mansion is enormous, wrapped across the front with a traditional veranda and stately white columns, but that's where tradition ends. Step inside to a theater of extravagance, with elaborate murals and guest rooms like the Gothic-themed "Vampire Lover's Lair" and a "Gone With the Wind" bridal suite. For a more predictable night's sleep, the Hampton Inn stands in for name-brand hotels, with a location just four blocks from Magazine Street and directly on the St. Charles Streetcar line.
Central Business District
The Central Business District is the "downtown" of New Orleans and houses such venues as the Orpheum, the Convention Center and The Canal shopping center. Guests at Harrah's New Orleans hotel enjoy views of the Mississippi River, along with the casino and a connected four-block promenade featuring live entertainment. The Windsor Court Hotel on Gravier Street is consistently mentioned as one of the most elegant and exquisite hotels in the entire city, with traditional afternoon tea service, original art from multiple centuries and the popular Polo Lounge.
The New Orleans Arts District is known by most people as simply the "Warehouse District," an area of former grain and coffee warehouses that is now filled to the brim with art galleries and museums. The transformation has brought hotels into the area, including name-brand properties from Embassy Suites and the Courtyard by Marriott. In the "hip and cosmopolitan" genre of hotels, Hotel Le Cirque has 137 rooms in the Lee Circle area, within walking distance of the concentration of galleries on Julia Street.
- new orleans balconies image by Elly from Fotolia.com