With carnival season in full swing, New Orleans is already heating up, and Mardi Gras is just around the corner on March 4 (though parades have been happening since February 15). While there is no shortage of beads and revelry throughout the French Quarter, experience the exquisite side of the festivities by staying at one of these six luxury hotels.
Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans features a Four-Star spa, opulent lounge areas, live jazz, a blooming courtyard, bellhops in seersucker suits and suites fit for royalty. Several parades pass directly in front of the hotel, and The Ritz sets up a stand at its Canal Street entrance so guests can enjoy the show while sipping hurricanes and snacking on New Orleans classics such as crawfish bread and gumbo. The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans also boasts a “recovery concierge” in the exclusive Club Level, Maison Orleans who specializes in assisting guests in nursing their hangovers, whether with a Bloody Mary, restorative spa treatment, or a nourishing breakfast in bed, with options such as the New Orleans breakfast hash with crispy Andouille sausage, a poached farm egg and cayenne hollandaise. Executive chef Thierry Connault serves farm-to-table cuisine with a focus on local seafood at Four-Star M bistro, which flaunts three plush cheaters’ rooms for semi-private dining, as well as an exclusive wine room that seats 10 VIP guests against a backdrop of endless wine bottles.
The newly renovated Bourbon Orleans Hotel is centrally located in the French Quarter, right near the historic St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square. Opt for a quieter courtyard suite or enjoy the excitement of Bourbon Street from your own private party in one of the Bourbon Balcony loft suites, which feature private balconies with large French doors, MP3 docking stations and wet bars. The Bourbon Orleans offers multiple unique packages, such as the Bourbon House Bourbon Society Distiller’s Package, which comes with an in-room bourbon amenity, daily breakfast for two at Roux on Orleans creole restaurant, and a specialty bourbon cocktail at the Bourbon “O” Bar, both within the hotel. The Mardi Gras Revelry promotion includes admission for two to tour Mardi Gras World, beignets and coffee at Café du Monde, and a welcome beverage at the Bourbon “O” Bar. The building’s plantation shutters, flickering lanterns, scalloped fencing and Garden District-style courtyard invites guests to relax and soak in the beauty of the surroundings between parades.
While this Four-Star property is sold out during Fat Tuesday, Windsor Court still offers plenty to lure in guests. For starters, Four-Star The Spa at Windsor Court provides a host of rejuvenating services in the event you’ve reveled a bit too hard during your stay. The Regal Retreat, a detoxifying treatment that includes a dry body scrub, ginger oil massage and steam shower, sounds particularly inviting. Also worth checking out is Four-Star The Grill Room, a sparkling restaurant that trumpets its contemporary American menu (bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin and seared diver scallops) and delicious desserts, including pastry chef Shun Li’s festive king cake.
Enter the expansive lobby, with its Art Deco motifs and smooth marble floors, and prepare for a luxurious stay at Loews New Orleans Hotel. Its Grand Rooms are the biggest in the city, while the suites include whirlpool tubs, Big Easy-style entertaining parlors and Bose sound systems. All rooms are outfitted with top-quality linens, pops of vivid color, original artwork inspired by the city and wall-to-wall windows boasting views of the Mississippi River, the Crescent City skyline and the Piazza d’Italia. With the Loews Loves Pets program, furry friends are welcomed with a nametag, bowl, bed and treats. Between the dog-walking and pet-sitting services offered and a gourmet specialty menu, guests can rest easy knowing their pet is in good hands. Located just a few blocks from St. Charles Avenue, guests have the convenience of proximity to parade routes while remaining far enough from the action to escape for rest and relaxation with a spa treatment or a soak in the indoor lap pool. Enjoy executive chef Carl Schaubhut’s modern creole cuisine at Café Adelaide, part of the renowned Commander’s Palace family of restaurants (notice the coveted Commander’s turtle soup on the menu). Bar chef Lu Brow puts a playful spin on regional specialties at the Swizzle Stick bar, with cocktails such as the Dirty Rice (vodka shaken with fresh vegetable juices, rimmed with dehydrated celery and garnished with Andouille sausage) and the Mocha Cocoa Snoball (Silver Bayou rum, cold coffee, mole bitters, chocolate and shaved ice that’s topped with condensed milk).
Just a short walking distance from the hustle and bustle of the rollicking French Quarter, the International House Hotel is an artfully composed (and environmentally sustainable) urban retreat. Los Angeles-based designer LM Pagano combines the clean lines of sleek modernism with touches of decadence in each guest room, with details such as damask carpeting and velour armchairs. After a rinse under a soothing rainshower head with Aveda amenities, lounge around in a waffle robe to recharge before the next celebration. The IH Hotel offers two unique penthouses: Muse features a landscaped terrace overlooking the Mississippi River and French Quarter, a baby grand piano, Swarovski crystal chandeliers and a Calcutta gold marble bathroom; and the aptly named Cityscape penthouse features a wraparound terrace overlooking the city, a seven-foot soaking tub, 42-inch flat-screen with Apple TV and an oversized ottoman for loafing. During Mardi Gras, the candlelit lobby is decorated by Henri Schindler, who has designed parades and balls for some of the city’s oldest societies. When the sun goes down, the hotel’s bar (named Loa after the benevolent voodoo deities) glows with candlelight as skillful bartenders shake up well-crafted cocktails using local herbs, botanicals, housemade bitters and syrups.
Stay in the heart of the French Quarter in style at the Omni Royal Orleans. Begin your night with dinner at Rib Room, followed by a horse-and-carriage ride past historic Jackson Square. The Royal Suite features a living room with French doors overlooking the French Quarter, a private wrought iron balcony and wet bar, while the ultimate Penthouse Suite includes all of the above, with the addition of luxurious details such as a Jacuzzi tub and walk-in shower. Many of the premium rooms also sport private balconies with views of St. Louis Street or Royal Street, and the rooftop pool and lounge offers an observation deck ideal for parade spectating. The Omni’s Michalopoulos Going Green package provides guests with the opportunity to own artwork by celebrated local artist James Michalopoulos. For $35,000, guests can stay in the Royal Suite for two nights before leaving with the original Going Green oil painting currently on display in the lobby — don’t worry, the framed painting, which depicts a classic New Orleans creole cottage, may also be shipped.
Photo Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company LLC and iStock-dswebb