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New Orleans is unlike any city in America. The stunning architecture and historic hotels wink at its French foots, amazing jazz music reverberates through the streets and mouthwatering Cajun food sizzles in local restaurants. The French Quarter is the hub of the tourism center, and famous Bourbon Street is the heart of the party scene. However, many visitors may choose to stay in quieter neighborhoods such as the Garden District, Warehouse District or in Faubourg Marigny – a less crowded area bordering the French Quarter. Charming, boutique hotels (including many historical gems) are a great way to experience this city in a more intimate way. Not sure where you'd like to bed down? Here are the 10 best boutique hotels in the Big Easy.
Best Budget Boutique: Hotel Indigo
Boutique hotels often come with higher nightly rates, but the 135-room Hotel Indigo is a more affordable option for travelers on a budget. Located in the picturesque Garden District, Hotel Indigo places visitors near some more off-the-path tourism sites like the Museum of the American Cocktail and the Audubon Zoo, but is just a streetcar ride away from Bourbon Street. Rooms have modern, artistic décor with a combination of bright and colorful furnishings. An on-site bar serves local fare and cocktails indoors or on the outdoor patio. The hotel welcomes pets, but a fee applies, and parking is also additional.
Best Location: Bienville House Hotel
If location is the most important factor for you when deciding where to stay, then the Bienville House Hotel can't be beat. It's located on Decatur Street, just a few blocks from Jackson Square, the Audubon Butterfly Garden, Café du Monde and most other major attractions. Once a grain warehouse, the 83-room Bienville House Hotel underwent a multimillion dollar transformation and emerged as a beautiful hotel with the feel of a historic manor house. The hotel has wrought iron balconies off some guestrooms (great for people watching), as well as a blue lagoon pool in the stone courtyard. TripAdvisor members noted that there are many rooms types and not all rooms have windows, so be sure to ask. Continental breakfast is included.
Best French Quarter: Hotel Mazarin
Travelers who want to stay in the heart of the action might want to take a look at the 102-room Hotel Mazarin, located just a block from busy Bourbon Street and Royal Street – home to jazz bars and art galleries. Although the hotel is a hidden oasis in the center of the tourist district, you're here for the scene. TripAdvisor members note that the noise from nearby streets and bars can still be heard at times. Rooms have iPod docking stations, WiFi and private baths with black porcelain tile and granite finishes. Rates include breakfast and a welcome cocktail at 21st Amendment at La Louisiane, the jazz bar on the property. Guests can take a stroll through the outdoor courtyard featuring a European-style fountain, or grab a bite to eat at Patrick’s Bar Vin Wine Bar, which serves small plates best paired with some fine wine.
Best for Music: The Frenchman Hotel
Faubourg Marigny is a neighborhood along the outskirts of the French Quarter known for bustling Frenchman Street - ground zero for amazing jazz venues. Anyone who wants the music scene to be front and center should stay at the Frenchman Hotel, but be aware – it can be loud and is not ideal for light sleepers. There are 14 live music venues within a five-minute walk from the 27-room hotel, and several rooms have private balconies overlooking the action. Brick walls, decorative fireplaces, canopy beds and other period accents give a historic vibe to guestrooms. The brick-lined courtyard features a swimming pool and hot tub for a bit of reprieve. A continental breakfast and wireless Internet are included, but parking is additional.
Best in the Garden District: Henry Howard Hotel
If you're looking for an opulent stay in a beautiful, peaceful neighborhood away from the French Quarter, you should consider the Garden District (it's 2.5 miles to the tourism center), which is home to many well-preserved, antebellum mansions. Built in 1867, the Henry Howard is a swank, 18-room hotel with sparkling chandeliers, Corinthian columns, hardwood flooring and lavish furnishings that nod to a bygone era. Guests can relax on the massive front porch or sip on a drink from the parlor bar. Rooms have antique furniture and original artwork, but modern creature comforts such as pillow-topped mattresses, free WiFi and premium bath products. The Garden District is best explored on foot, so be sure to stop by the Lafayette Cemetery or visit the restaurants and bars on Magazine Street. The street car is just a few minutes away for transportation to Bourbon Street.
Best Amenities: Audabon House Cottages
After a multimillion-dollar renovation, the Audabon House Cottages feel like a private French Quarter residence that’s ideal for those seeking seclusion and plenty of added amenities. Situated in the French Quarter, the Audabon House consists of just seven luxury cottages featuring exposed brick walls or hardwood floors, pillow-topped beds, bathrobes and slippers and iPod docks. Wake up to fresh pastries and coffee served in your private courtyard from a personal butler, stroll along the tree-lined path or relax in the tranquil saltwater pool. Tea, coffee and water are replenished daily and nightly turndown service is offered as well. Parking is additional.
Best Design: Loft 523
Located in the Central Business District just two blocks from the French Quarter and the art galleries of the Warehouse District, Loft 523 is a cutting-edge hideaway ideal for those seeking spacious and trendy accommodations. Floor-to-ceiling windows, 1907 Fortuny lamps, built-in closets and mixed-media art collections are just a few unique design elements found in the hotel. The hotel was once an old warehouse and the stunning transformation created 18 SoHo-style lofts with mod cons, limestone baths and glass-enclosed showers. TripAdvisor members loved that they were just far enough from hectic Bourbon Street, but close enough that they can explore the area’s restaurants, antique shops and attractions.
Best Pet-Friendly: Hotel Modern
Don't like to travel without Fido? The Hotel Modern has one of the lowest pet fees in New Orleans and offers special pet packages, courtesy bags, dog treats, as well as a concierge list of pet-friendly bars and restaurants throughout the city. It's also conveniently located in the trendy Warehouse and Arts District on the St. Charles street car line. Room décor consists of salvaged items and vintage artwork, with modern amenities like docking stations and WiFi, and continental breakfast is included with every stay. TripAdvisor members have noted that rooms are on the small side, but comfortable.
Best in Faubourg Marigny District: Lamothe House
Travelers wanting a more authentic experience should stay at the 35-room Lamothe House in the “locals” neighborhood of Faubourg Marigny. The hotel puts guests in a prime location on the edge of the French Quarter near the jazz clubs of Frenchman Street, but it remains remarkably quiet. Rooms have antique heart pine floors, Victorian furniture, marble baths and free WiFi. The hotel is on a tree-lined street within walking distance to the French Market, the shops of Royal Street and the restaurants of the French Quarter. And after a day exploring, guests can relax in the hotel's tranquil pool.
Best Historic: Hotel Provincial
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and family owned since 1961, the 93-room Hotel Provincial has been restored to maintain its charm, while offering modern amenities. Built in the 1800s (but partially destroyed in a fire), the hotel is made up of five buildings – two of which were a Confederate soldier hospital. It is this sector of the hotel that is rumored to be haunted, and the hotel’s location on a quiet street in the French Quarter adds to its eerie appeal. Rooms have mini refrigerators, antiques, and WiFi, while some have balconies overlooking the courtyards, pool and fountains. Guests can relax in the Ice House Bar with a cocktail or take a stroll to Jackson Square, the French Market and Café Du Monde – they're all just steps away.