New Orleans has always been a popular vacation destination, but in recent years the city has reached a whole new level with record visitation and a modern-day influx of trendy new hotels. What're more, the city continues to boast one of the strongest food, drink and music scenes in America.
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Paired with that historic “only in New Orleans” French-inspired architecture and infectious party-centric way of life, the always-welcoming Big Easy is also welcoming a complete renovation of its international airport which is scheduled to open May 15. So if you haven’t been convinced by now to visit, we don’t know what the hell you’re waiting for – the only question remaining is where to stay in New Orleans.
As there is so much to the city beyond just the tourism-focused French Quarter, we’re here to present you with a comprehensive breakdown of the coolest neighbourhoods alongside our picks for some of the best hotels in each area.
And in a one-of-kind city as offbeat as New Orleans, you can bet the accommodations are just as eccentric – with options ranging from historic mansions and renovated church buildings to a former firehouse and chandelier factory. Here's our guide to where to stay in New Orleans.
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French Quarter: best area in New Orleans for sightseeing
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.
Where to stay at the French Quarter:
- Best 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.
- Best for classic New Orleans charm: Wyndham New Orleans French Quarter. Less than a 5-minute walk from Bourbon Street, Wyndham New Orleans French Quarter offers free WiFi. Harrah's Casino, Jackson Square and Cafe Du Monde are each located less than 1 km from the hotel.
- Best 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.
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The lively French Quarter - the first area that comes to mind when you think of where to stay in New Orleans © Shutterstock
Central Business District: where to stay in New Orleans on a budget
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.
Where to stay in the Central Business District:
- Best 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.
- Best 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.
- Best 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.
Looking for travel inspiration for the best destinations in the United States? Perhaps our guide about 6 ideas for an American adventure can help you plan your trip.
The CBD now offering several cool new options for where to stay in New Orleans © Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
Marigny: best area in New Orleans for galleries & live music and so on
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.
Where to stay in Marigny:
- Best for 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.
- Best for staying 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.
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One of the many colourful buildings in New Orleans' Marigny neighbourhood © Peek Creative Collective / Shutterstock
Bywater: the coolest area in New Orleans
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.
Where to stay in the Bywater:
- Best for a stay near Bywater Historic District: Sonder The Bywater. Located within 2.3 miles of St Louis Cemetery No 1 and 2.6 miles of Bourbon Street. 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.
- Best for rocking 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.
The Bywater neighbourhood has attracted many artists and musicians in recent years © cdrin/Shutterstock
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Garden District: where to stay in New Orleans for the spectacular scenery
This laid-back, mostly residential area offers some of the most spectacular scenery that can be found in any American city. Ride the iconic St. Charles Avenue streetcar through this leafy neighbourhood as you ogle its massive historic mansions before stopping off for lunch at a landmark local restaurant like Commander’s Palace. Maybe even stay in one of the mansions for the night.
Where to stay in the Garden District:
- Best for a ride the streetcar to your room: Pontchartrain Hotel. This historic NOLA classic can be on the pricey side but that’s to be expected from one of the finest hotels in the city. Everyone from former presidents to actress Rita Hayworth to rock band The Doors have stayed here over the years. The 14-floor hotel sits along the famous St. Charles Avenue streetcar line, with appropriately posh rooms and a popular loft-style rooftop bar.
- Best for making friends at a budget hostel: Auberge NOLA Hostel. If you are priced out of the fancy mansion B&Bs that are the norm for accommodations in the Garden District, try this hostel located just a bit outside the official neighborhood borders for bright, clean shared accommodations at a fraction of the price. The crowd is friendly and pretty much up for anything, including organised trips to local bars and music venues.
Find more accommodation options in the Garden District
The leafy Garden District of New Orleans © Kristi Blokhin / Shutterstock
Uptown/Carrollton: New Orleans underrated gem
This fun neighbourhood around Tulane University is criminally underrated and well off the beaten path for most French Quarter-focused visitors. Those willing to travel the few extra miles will be richly rewarded with legendary New Orleans institutions including incomparable music venue The Maple Leaf and infamous late-night hang Snake & Jake’s. Accommodations in the mostly residential area are scarce, so get creative.
Where to stay in Uptown/Carrollton:
- Best for feel like a local: Down the Block From Tulane. Located just a few blocks from one of the most storied dive bars in America (Snake & Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge), this appropriately-named Airbnb sets up shop in the fun yet under-the-radar neighborhood of Uptown/Carrolton near Tulane University. Rent out the two-bedroom space within this large gated home in the mostly residential area and feel like a local.
- Best for a modern stay: Alder Hotel. Located within walking distance to Ochsner Baptist Medical Center, Alder Hotel Uptown New Orleans is situated in the historic Uptown district of New Orleans. Free private parking is available on-site.
Find more accommodation options in Uptown/Carrolton
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Audubon Park is a highlight of this neighbourhood © Fotoluminate LLC/Shutterstock
Mid-city: an area of cultural mixing and diversity
In the 1800s, Tremé, the historic African American neighbourhood where jazz was developed, was a prosperous area, with its shops, businesses and homes owned and frequented by New Orleans’s free black population.
Beyond Tremé, towards the lake, in the vast area known as Mid-City, New Orleans’s 1500-acre City Park is a welcome green space, enlivened by pedal boats and an antique carousel, streaked with lagoons and shaded by centuries-old live oaks.
The chief attraction, the excellent New Orleans Museum of Art, includes pre-Columbian pieces, African works, Asian ceramics and paintings, and contemporary art and photography. Its five-acre sculpture garden (free) is a must-see, its works – by Louise Bourgeois, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Rene Magritte, Isamu Noguchi and others – dotted among oaks, magnolias and lush gladioli.
Where to stay in Mid-city:
- Best for cosy B&B: Canal Street Inn. Less than 4.8 km from the New Orleans French Quarter, this bed and breakfast showcases antique furnishings and collectables from around the world. It has free Wi-Fi and rooms with a private bath.
- Best for modern stay: The Ben Louie. Set in New Orleans, within 3 km of Mercedes-Benz Superdome and 3.9 km of Union Station, The Ben Louie offers accommodation with a terrace and free WiFi throughout the property as well as free private parking for guests who drive. The property is around 4.6 km from Uptown New Orleans Historic District, 5.1 km from Morial Convention Center and 5.2 km from Touro Synagogue.
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New Orleans is one of the cities in the US truly worth visiting. Read our guide on the best states and cities to visit in the US and find your next destination.
Langles Bridge in the City Park, New Orleans © AdobeStock
Warehouse/Arts District: the New Orleans galleries cluster
Spreading upriver from the foot of Canal Street, New Orleans’ Warehouse District, part of the CBD, contains the Arts District, with dozens of galleries centred on Julia and Camp streets and several key museums. The hub of the scene is the Contemporary Arts Center, at 900 Camp St.
The main museums in this district are:
- The colossal National World War II Museum opened on June 6, 2000;
- The Civil War Museum the oldest museum in Louisiana;
- Ogden Museum of Southern Art represents the South in all its complexity.
Where to stay in Warehouse/Arts District:
- Best for the stylish stays: Stylish Warehouse Apartments. Situated within 600 m of Morial Convention Center and 1.2 km of Union Station in New Orleans, Stylish Warehouse Apartments features accommodation with free WiFi and TV.
- Best for staying with friends: The Brandywine I Sextant. Located in New Orleans, The Brandywine I Sextant offers accommodation with a patio or a balcony, free WiFi and flat-screen TV, as well as a fitness centre and a shared lounge.
Find more accommodation options in the Warehouse/Arts District
Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans © Shutterstock
Bourbon Street: where to stay in New Orleans for a clubbing nightlife
Though you’d never guess it from the hype, there are two faces to world-renowned Bourbon Street. The tawdry, touristy, booze-drenched stretch spans the seven stinky blocks from Canal to St Ann: a frat-pack cacophony of trashy daiquiri stalls, novelty shops and shabby girlie bars.
This enclave is best experienced after dark, when a couple – though by no means all – of its bars and clubs are worth a look, and the sheer mayhem takes on a bacchanalian life of its own. This is where to stay in New Orleans for people wanting to see the peak of this city's excitement.
When the attraction of fighting your way through crowds of weekending drunks palls, however, it’s easy to dip out again into the quieter parallel streets. If you do manage to make it as far as St Ann, you come to a distinct crossroads, marked by a gaggle of raucous gay clubs, beyond which Bourbon transforms into an appealing, predominantly gay, residential area.
Where to stay near Bourbon Street:
- Best for luxury: Maison de la Luz. Maison de la Luz is located in the centre\al business and arts district of New Orleans, a short walk to the French Quarter. Located on the St. Charles historic streetcar line, Tulane University and the Garden District is just a short ride away. Providing a private lounge and breakfast room, the property is within 1.6 km of Mercedes-Benz Superdome and Morial Convention Center.
- Best for staying in the heart of the city: Factors Row I Sextant. Set in New Orleans, Louisiana, 800 m from Bourbon Street, Factors Row I Sextant boasts a fully-equipped kitchen, 2 flat-screen cable TVs and central air conditioning. World War 2 Museum is 800 m away. Free WiFi is available throughout the property.
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Bourbon St, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA © Sean Pavone/Shutterstock
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