New Orleans has always had a rich variety of accommodations options, from historic inns and B&Bs tucked inside vintage Creole-style houses in offbeat residential neighborhoods to glitzy, contemporary hotels in the Central Business District (CBD) and hip, adjacent Warehouse District. It's a given that virtually all of the city's accommodations are gay-friendly, but some target the GLBT market more than others. So with so many choices, and in so many neighborhoods, where's a gay traveler to stay?
Mardi Gras and Southern Decadence Tips
If coming for Mardi Gras, it's advisable to book as far ahead as possible, but last-minute visitors shouldn't despair - rooms often open up shortly before the event, so it's always a good idea to keep shopping for deals on hotels during Mardi Gras.
The city's biggest gay celebration, Southern Decadence, takes place Labor Day Weekend, which isn't quite as busy a time as Mardi Gras. Still, it's prudent to book rooms well in advance for this wild weekend. Another noted event is New Orleans Gay Pride, which occurs in late June.
Choosing a Neighborhood
For nearness to everything New Orleans is famous for, including the top gay-nightlife options in the city, the French Quarter remains the hub of accommodations, with dozens of hotels in all shapes and sizes. Adjacent to the Quarter and just downriver, you'll find a number of gay-friendly smaller properties in historic and trendy Faubourg Marigny, which is also home to several gay-popular restaurants and bars.
The CBD and Warehouse District are next door, and although they're the domain of larger, often corporate-oriented hotels, they offer some outstanding deals to leisure travelers, especially on weekends.
Outside the CBD and French Quarter, greater New Orleans has significant numbers of charming, GLBT-popular inns and B&Bs, mostly in the Garden District and Mid-City, as well as many budget- and mid-priced chain hotels, mostly in neighboring Metairie and Kenner. In the latter area, you're going to find low rates, but you'll be a 15- to 30-minute drive from the French Quarter. You can save money staying farther afield, and you'll be handy to the airport, but be sure to factor in those costs that concern lost time and added inconvenience.
Bed and Breakfasts and Inns
A great resource on the city’s many fine smaller properties is Bed and Breakfast Inns of New Orleans, an organization consisting of nearly 50 member inns and B&Bs. The organization’s website has an online reservations and availability function that enables you to search for properties with rooms open. Gay-oriented properties are specifically noted on the site.
Mainstream Gay-Friendly Hotels
Of the many larger, mainstream hotels around New Orleans, a number of them stand out for their proximity to Bourbon Street's gay nightlife, for the degree to which they court the gay market, or both. In the French Quarter, a longtime GLBT favorite is the venerable Hotel Monteleone - such notables as Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote were regulars in this elegant, upscale, century-old property. Be sure to have drinks in the historic Carousel Bar, and check out the fantastic Spa Aria as well as the rooftop fitness center.
Also consider the lavish Omni Royal Orleans, a beautifully decorated, historic property with a fantastic restaurant (the retro-cool Rib Room) and a perfectly central yet relatively peaceful location. The rambling and similarly swank Bourbon Orleans is another comfy, upscale option, and it completed a massive renovation recently. It's within a stone's throw of such famed gay bars as Bourbon Pub and Oz. On the negative side, the noise from Bourbon Street can be annoying---request a room closer to Royal Street if that's an issue.
Chic and handsomely decorated, the W New Orleans--French Quarter is known for its sterling service, mod room decor, charming courtyard swimming pool, high-tech amenities, and superb Italian restaurant (Bacco) - W also operates the W New Orleans, which is similarly stylish and gay-friendly, in the more biz-oriented CBD.
Other great and gay-popular hotel options right in the Quarter include the posh Ritz-Carlton New Orleans, and the affordable yet well-maintained and highly charming Le Richelieu, which is close to Faubourg Marigny and the French Market; and moderately priced Place D’Armes Hotel, only property directly facing glorious Jackson Square. On Canal Street right on the edge of the Quarter, the New Orleans Marriott is a well-run, attractive, and centrally located option that often offers GLBT packages during big events, like Southern Decadence.
The Central Business District, the heart of downtown New Orleans, has a number of excellent hotels that cater to a mix of business and leisure travelers. One of the tops among these was also one of the last Katrina-damaged properties to reopen: the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, which underwent an incredibly ambitious makeover before its relaunch. This is one of the largest hotels in the South, a very popular venue for conventions, but because it's right by the Superdome, is home to the stellar John Besh restaurant Borgne, has a fab rooftop fitness center with amazing views, and is convenient to the Quarter, this is a great lodging to consider whatever your reason for visiting New Orleans.
Rooms are spacious, and in addition to Borgne as well as a Starbucks, there are a few handy food and nightlife options on property.
Right adjacent to the CBD, in the Warehouse District, the Windsor Court Hotel has for years embodied the grace, warmth, and elegance of New Orleans. Spacious rooms are outfitted with Italian marble bathrooms and tasteful color schemes, and the New Orleans Grill serves some of the city's most rarefied cuisine. Harrah's New Orleans Casino & Hotel has made a big splash with its fab, AAA Four Diamond property---a 26-story tower with 450 big rooms and access not only to all-night gaming but some of the hottest new restaurants in the city: Besh Steakhouse among them.
Gay-popular hipster hangouts of note include the mid-priced Hotel Modern, a cool design-minded property close to the Ogden Museum; the intimate Omni Royal Crescent, a chic boutique hotel in the Warehouse District; and the snazzy International House, with its lively bar and restaurant and mod rooms. The same owners also run nearby Loft 523, a chic little urban hideaway with minimalist-theme studio-like rooms done with low-slung beds and high-tech amenities.
Farther Uptown, in or near the Garden District, you'll find several of the gay-friendly B&Bs referred to above, plus a mostly ordinary but affordable bunch of chain hotels along St. Charles Avenue. This area is appealing for its distinctive architecture and proximity to Magazine Street shopping, but it's a cab ride away from gay bars.