New Orleans has a long and interesting past, influenced first by the French and then by the Spanish before the area was sold to the United States in 1803. European architectural elements like French doors and Spanish galleries (wide balconies with intricate railings) can be seen throughout the city. It’s no surprise that a place with so much history and character has accommodations with just as much personality.
Here are just a few of the city’s unique hotels.
1. Selina Catahoula Hotel
Located in the Central Business District, the Selina Catahoula Hotel is within walking distance of many of New Orleans’s top attractions. You can wander around the nearby French Quarter, catch a Saints game at the Superdome, or take the streetcar to the Garden District.
The Creole-style building was constructed in 1845 and recently restored. The 35 rooms — each one different from the next — are a mix of contemporary and historic: minimalist and tasteful with exposed brick, high ceilings, and original windows. Choose from the Guest Room, perfect for adventurous couples who don’t need extra frills; the luxurious Master Bedroom; and the Catahoula Flat, complete with a kitchen and a washer and dryer.
This hotel is all about the details. In addition to a comfy Casper mattress, each room boasts a rainfall showerhead, a 32-inch television, and AVEDA products for maximum relaxation after a long day spent exploring.
Whether you’re wanting to put your feet up or explore the NOLA nightlife, the hotel’s Piscobar and rooftop are a great place to start or end your evening. The in-house bar specializes in innovative cocktails made from Peru’s national spirit, pisco.
2. Hotel Monteleone
Constructed in the 1800s with ornate Baroque elements, this hotel is truly one of a kind. Initially a 64-room hotel, the building has expanded to include 600 hotel rooms plus ballrooms, dining rooms, and cocktail lounges. The historic structure boasts rooms as intricately decorated as the exterior.
Known for attracting writers and authors, Hotel Monteleone offers several Literary Suites. These suites are named for the hotel’s most famous patrons, including Truman Capote, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty, and Ernest Hemingway.
When you’ve checked in to the Hotel Monteleone, a stop at the first-floor Carousel Bar is a must. The bar rotates, like an actual merry-go-round, but instead of horses, you get to ride on one of the bar stools (if you’re lucky enough to get a spot!). Order the Vieux Carre, which, rumor has it, was invented at Hotel Monteleone.
3. Pontchartrain Hotel
Where else can you say that you stayed at the hotel where Tennessee Williams wrote A Streetcar Named Desire?
Consistently voted one of the best hotels in the nation by travel media outlets, the Garden District’s Pontchartrain Hotel is elegant, historic, and timeless. Initially erected as an apartment building in 1927, by 2016, the building was in need of a facelift. The rooms, restored to their original glory, still have the same European feel as they did when the apartment building was converted into a hotel in the 1940s.
The guest rooms are outfitted with antiques, print drapes, and sofas. The hotel’s cream-of-the-crop suite features two guest rooms with king-size beds plus a living room that includes an entertainment area, desk, dining table, and — naturally — a bar.
In addition to the 100+ renovated rooms, the hotel features dining and entertainment areas like Hot Tin Bar — a nod to Williams’s play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The dimly lit bar offers strong cocktails and an outdoor balcony boasting skyline views.
4. Bienville House Hotel
Another historic hotel built in the 1800s, Bienville House Hotel is also a unique option. You can feel the charm as soon as you enter the lobby, furnished with plush couches, embellished lamps, and a large chandelier.
Although it’s nestled in the heart of the French Quarter, the hotel’s 80 rooms and amenities are an escape from the chaos. Relax after a long day in the Crescent City in the leafy, secluded courtyard, where a pool welcomes visitors to cool off in its salty waters.
The Sundeck Room, the most notable guest room, is furnished with a luxurious mahogany bed and French-style finishes. Its main feature is the gorgeous outdoor sundeck with patio chairs and a table perfect for enjoying your morning coffee. If you don’t want to make your own brew, a free hot breakfast of coffee, eggs, and locally made pastries is served every morning in the lobby.
5. Henry Howard Hotel
A block away from the mansion-lined Saint Charles Avenue, the Henry Howard Hotel was designed by the architect Henry Howard himself. Like many New Orleans buildings, it started off as one thing and was turned into another: Once a townhouse, the hotel now features 18 guest rooms, a parlor, a large front porch, and a private courtyard.
From the Corinthian columns and iron galleries outside to the patterned wallpaper inside, gorgeous details abound. Furniture designed for the hotel plus art by local masters will leave you inspired.
If you decide to stay at the Henry Howard, you can still enjoy the city view from Pontchartrain Hotel’s Hot Tin Bar, which is just a 2-minute walk away. It’s also a prime location for walking through the Garden District, where each historic home is better than the next. (You might even spot some of its famous residents, like Sandra Bullock, John Goodman, or the Manning family).
Whether you decide to stay at one of these five hotels or not, you won’t be at a loss for unique spots to visit in New Orleans. The city has survived 300 years of power transfers and natural disasters, and all of its old buildings have secrets to share.