Home of the iconic Bourbon Street and Jackson Square, the French Quarter is the first place most people think of when they imagine a trip to New Orleans. The popular tourist district is packed with a wide range of accommodations for all types of travellers, including some of the most iconic hotels in town. But there are a few budget alternatives to be found around the margins, if you know where to look.
The lively French Quarter © f11photo/Shutterstock
Where to stay in the French Quarter
For a hotel in the heart of it all
Hotel Monteleone. This 570-room historic landmark, built in 1886, is one of the most spectacular hotels in the South. It has hosted a number of big-name American authors over the years including Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams. Take a dip in the swanky rooftop pool before heading down for a drink at the hotel’s legendary Carousel Piano Bar & Lounge, where the bar stools revolve under carousel hoardings as you drink.
For classic New Orleans charm
Hotel Maison de Ville. When you conjure mental images of New Orleans, chances are that Hotel Maison de Ville is largely what you are picturing. Dripping with classic New Orleans charm from head to toe, the historic three-story property occupies one of the oldest structures in the French Quarter, with luxurious rooms equipped with balconies overlooking the action along Toulouse Street.
For a budget-conscious alternative
Hotel Provincial. Centrally located yet far enough from the heart of the tourist trail to provide guests with some rare peace and quiet on the outskirts of the French Quarter, this historic hotel offers a more affordable alternative with small yet comfortable rooms and a charming brick courtyard with pool.
Central Business District
Traditionally a mostly lifeless dredge of buildings that few frequented after work hours, today the Central Business District (CBD) has been transformed into one of the trendiest areas of the city for overnight stays with a number of hip boutique hotels opening in recent years, seemingly one after the other. Close proximity to the French Quarter and an up-and-coming arts scene provide added pluses.
The CBD now offering several cool new options for where to stay in New Orleans © Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
Where to stay in the Central Business District
For the chance to hang with the cool kids
Cambria Hotel New Orleans Downtown Warehouse District. Since opening in 2017, this classy boutique hotel with an on-site art gallery has been helping to lead the downtown hotel revival and is one of the top-rated properties in the city. With chic industrial design and close proximity to downtown’s burgeoning Warehouse District scene, there’s plenty to like here.
For live music in a hip setting
Ace Hotel New Orleans. This popular chain is well known for having some of the coolest hotels in America, and the Ace Hotel’s New Orleans outpost is no different, with a lobby that’s a fashionable music-focused space featuring suites equipped with guitars and turntables. Hit the hotel’s intimate on-site music venue Three Keys for live music most nights of the week.
For art and chandeliers
Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery. Ever want to stay in a former chandelier factory? If so, this buzzing boutique hotel is calling your name. Featuring a rotating art gallery and one of the city’s top restaurants (Compere Lapin) located on site, the range of accommodations here includes loft suites and artist studios.
This hip neighbourhood bordering the French Quarter is home to the bustling bars and music venues along Frenchman Street, which has evolved in recent years into a thriving alternative to the tourist overkill of Bourbon Street. From B&Bs co-owned by rock stars to historic churches and an old fire station, it’s also home to some of the most unique accommodations in the Big Easy.
One of the many colourful buildings in New Orleans’ Marigny neighbourhood © Peek Creative Collective / Shutterstock
Where to stay in Marigny
To party like a rock star
Royal Street Inn & Bar. With five immaculate suites and the rowdy on-site R Bar playing some of the best music in New Orleans, you’ll feel like a rock star when staying at this hipster-approved, somewhat secretive spot in the Marigny. Maybe it’s because the joint is partly owned by Greg Dulli of American rock band Afghan Whigs. Or maybe it’s because it’s just that cool.
Stay in a renovated church
Hotel Peter & Paul. This show-stopping former church, schoolhouse, rectory, and convent property has risen through the ranks to establish itself as one of the best new hotels in America since opening last fall. Select from a range of impressive rooms with heavy nods to the past across the newly renovated buildings of the stunning complex in what was once the Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic Church.
Rent out a historic firehouse
French Quarter Firehouse. If you and your crew are looking to splurge on the ultimate crash pad for a raucous emergency-filled bachelor party weekend, you could do far worse than renting out the gorgeous seven-bedroom, seven-bathroom Historic Engine 24 New Orleans Firehouse on Airbnb.
This formerly rundown section of town between the Marigny and Lower Ninth Ward neighbourhoods has been experiencing an influx of hipsters, musicians, artists and transplants from New York City. These new residents have helped to cement its reputation as the coolest hood in an increasingly hip city. Traditional hotel-style accommodations are scarce here, but offbeat treasures await the adventurous traveller.
The Bywater neighbourhood has attracted many artists and musicians in recent years © cdrin/Shutterstock
Where to stay in Bywater
For a classic mansion experience
The Mazant. This picture-perfect eight-bedroom 1880s B&B will make you feel like a wealthy plantation owner as you look out your window to survey your kingdom. The best part? The property is within easy walking (okay, stumbling) distance of some of the coolest spots in town, including elite locals-friendly live music venue Vaughn’s Lounge and A-list BBQ restaurant The Joint.
Rock the Elvis suite
The Lookout Inn. This funky little hidden gem is an affordable alternative off the beaten path at the edge of the Bywater. Not only is it close to neighbourhood hotspots like BJ’s Lounge and Bar Redux, it’s also (probably) the only place in New Orleans where you can rent an Elvis-themed suite. If you’re not into the King, choose from additional room themes including Mardi Gras and Bollywood.