If you're coming to the Essence Music Festival, you should make you hotel reservations now. There are official hotels on the website. Here are my top picks.
Windsor Court Hotel $$$$
A luxury five-star hotel, Windsor Court is in the downtown district very near Harrah's Casino. Posh yet welcoming, Windsor Court boasts a great restaurant, the Grill Room, and the Polo Club Lounge, one of the places to be for a drink, cigar, or entertainment. The rooms are, well, roomy, and all are beautifully furnished with artworks, marble baths, and other luxury amenities. Packages are available.
Le Pavilion $$$
Le Pavillion is a beautiful historic hotel in the Central Business District blocks from the Superdome. The rooms are beautifully furnished in an old-world style, and just sitting in the lobby is an experience in itself. It a great place to unwind after the festivities.
The Ritz Carlton $$$$
What can you say? It's the Ritz, after all, with its well-known reputation for elegance, and top echelon service. The spa is a destination unto itself, and it boasts one of the best restaurants in town. On Canal Street, it is well within walking distance to the Superdome.
The Royal Orleans is a French Quarter institution. In the central French Quarter, it has many balcony rooms and a popular lobby bar. The Omni Royal Orleans is convenient to many destinations in the city. A great restaurant, the Rib Room, has long been a meeting place for the powers-that-be in New Orleans.
J.W. Marriott $$$
The J. W. Marriott at 614 Canal Street has luxurious rooms and suites, with all the amenities. It also is the home of Shula's Steakhouse with some of the greatest steaks you will ever encounter (and please order the Creme Brulee--yummy.) There's also a friendly staff.
The St. Christopher is at 114 Magazine Street, right off Canal Street. This boutique hotel has rooms with great views, exposed brickwork, and art. It offers complementary deluxe breakfasts, and is well-located for Essence Fest.
Hotel Monteleone $$$
The Hotel Monteleone in the Quarter is a favorite in New Orleans, and an historic landmark. All the rooms are lovely, with marble bathrooms and other luxury amenities that (every now and then) include a ghost. The Carousel Piano Bar and Lounge is famous throughout the city. The Hunt Room serves dinner, and there is Le Cafe for breakfast.
This smaller Marriott is directly across the street from the Convention Center and has 320 spacious rooms with modern furnishings, including flat screen televisions. Perhaps best of all, Wolfe's in the Warehouse is a fabulous restaurant owned by famous chef Tom Wolfe. Across the street, you can go to La Boca for an Argentine steak experience.
The Astor Crowne Plaza $$-$$$
The Astor Crowne Plaza is at Bourbon and Canal, right at the juncture of the old and "new" New Orleans. It too has a wonderful restaurant, Dickie Brennan's Bourbon House Seafood and Oyster Bar. The rooms are furnished in period style, and have all the amenities you could ask for, a lot of plush pillows to sink into, and 24 hour room service. There is a rooftop pool and garden.
International House $$$
One of our favorites, the International House changes its decor with the seasons. Although the Loa bar is lit only by candlelight, it is one of the places to see and been seen. The guest rooms have fresh flowers, glass showers, and other amenities that you will love even if they don't rhyme.
It's a good idea to make your reservations through the Essence Music Festival website.