Visitors to Crescent City have exciting options available for accommodations
There’s a definite buzz in New Orleans these days. New hotels are springing up, old properties are receiving valuable facelifts and established landmarks are renovating and adding new features.
Last fall, the Hyatt Regency New Orleans finished its $275 million redevelopment which resulted in a new look for the 1976 hotel, including changing its entrance and reconfiguring its layout. The lobby now fronts Loyola Avenue, leaving behind the congestion of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and a streetcar is planned for Loyola so guests will have better access to Canal Street and the French Quarter.
The original entrance by the Superdome contained a mall, which has been closed and is now used as the hotel’s 200,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including two 25,000-square-foot ballrooms and a new 50,000-square-foot exhibit hall. The original dramatic atrium still exists with one side exposing the riverfront and the other the Superdome, but rooms have been expanded to accommodate modern tastes.
Still the hotel for the sports enthusiasts, the Hyatt offers Vitascope Hall, named for the world’s first for-profit movie theater built in New Orleans in 1896 and featuring numerous flat-screen TVs and a varied food and cocktail menu. In addition, chef John Besh has housed his new restaurant Borgne at the Hyatt, serving New Orleans seafood with a Spanish influence in honor of Louisiana’s 18th-century Spanish legacy.
This is one of three Hyatt properties to open in New Orleans in the past year. The Hyatt French Quarter, 800 Iberville St., also underwent a nearly $20 million renovation, and the Hyatt Place New Orleans Convention Center, 881 Convention Center Blvd., opened in March.
The New Orleans Hotel Collection has been busy renovating three properties in the French Quarter, ranging in price from the exclusive Audubon Cottages, where John James Audubon created his “Birds of America” series, to the boutique hotels Le Marais and Hotel Mazarin.
A collection of seven historic buildings, the Audubon Cottages on Dauphine Street face one of the oldest pools in the French Quarter and have been visited over the years by celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor. All of the buildings have been renovated down to the studs, explained Marc Becker, area director of marketing, and include a variety of amenities such as wet bars, a “French Quarter butler” who serves as both server and concierge, and morning breakfast served on site. There are one- and two-bedroom accommodations with private patios with an option to combine two for a three-bedroom arrangement, perfect for family reunions and weddings.
Even though several of the Audubon Cottages face Dauphine Street, soundproof walls keep out the noise that sometimes mars the French Quarter.
“You’re one block off Bourbon but you’re in another world,” Becker said.
Hotel Le Marais on Conti between Royal and Bourbon takes its name from the Marais district of Paris and owns a distinct joie de vivre feeling. The hotel was formerly the St. Ann/Marie Antoinette, but owns a completely new look after a multi-million dollar renovation.
Its 66 rooms surround a courtyard with heated saltwater pool and chic seating area and include comfortable armchairs of pigskin, large work areas, free Wifi, plus robes and bottled water. Signature cocktails and complimentary breakfast are served in Vive, a lifestyle bar featuring warm colors of red, purple and green and original local artwork by Bonita Waesche.
In addition, the hotel offers a fitness center, business center and a conference room for eight.
Still undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation in the building that formerly housed the St. Louis Hotel is the 102-room Hotel Mazarin at 730 Bienville, also conveniently located between Bourbon and Royal. The hotel is named for Cardinal Giulio Raimondo Mazarini, a French-Italian diplomat and politician who served as the chief minister of France to King Louis XIV, for whom Louisiana is named.
Guest rooms surround a courtyard available for private functions and weddings and include free Wifi, bottled water, large work stations, robes, slippers and comfy furnishings.
The hotel bar, Patrick’s Bar Vin, is owned by Patrick van Hoorebeek, king of the Krewe of Cork, an organization dedicated to wine and seen parading at Mardi Gras and the annual New Orleans Wine and Food Experience. Patrick’s Bar Vin offers a wide selection of wines and champagne by the glass, plus small plates and mixed drinks in a cozy setting that’s popular with locals.
The New Orleans Hotel Collection offers $25 off the best available rate Sundays through Thursdays; use promo code “barcoup” when making reservations at http://www.neworleanshotelcollection.com. Military personnel receive discounted rates as well.
Another transformation is The Hotel Modern, housed in the former YMCA at Lee Circle in the Warehouse District. Visitors to the upscale boutique hotel would hardly imagine its former incarnation, with its new hip color scheme and stylish furnishings. The 135 guest rooms feature luxurious linens, comfy chairs and books for perusing and possibly purchasing. Complimentary drinks and a friendly parrot greet visitors on arrival and the Bellocq lounge offers delicious original cocktail creations known as “Cobblers.” The lounge with its plush, seductive interior is named for Storyville photographer E.J. Bellocq. The Hotel Modern also contains Tamarind restaurant, helmed by New Orleans chef Dominique Macquet, who owns Dominique’s on Magazine Street.
Four Points by Sheraton French Quarter at 541 Bourbon St. recently opened in the former Inn on Bourbon Ramada hotel after a multi-million dollar renovation and offers 186 guest rooms, 4,375 square feet of meeting space and Café Opera under the direction of French native Chef Philippe Andreani. The hotel sits on the site of the 1859 French Opera House, the epicenter of New Orleans’s cultural scene for many years.
In January, the Saint Hotel opened in the Audubon Building on Canal Street after a $45 million purchase and transformation. Next door to the Ritz Carlton, the Saint Hotel features 166 modern guest rooms and the TEMPT restaurant run by chef Marcus Woodham, featuring a menu of local produce and seasonal dishes.