Royal Frenchmen is a quiet retreat but still in the heart of town. // © 2018 Royal Frenchmen Hotel & Bar
Feature image (above): Pontchartrain originally opened in 1927. // © 2018 Pontchartrain
Famously steeped in history, New Orleans is going gangbusters for the future. Along with major developments and new attractions debuting for NOLA’s tricentennial, the city is experiencing a never-before-seen hotel boom.
A record 23 properties have opened since 2010 — equating to roughly 4,000 rooms — including notable hotels in the past year alone, such as The Jung Hotel & Residences and The Troubadour Hotel New Orleans. Not to mention, major renovations have amped up existing properties like AC Hotel New Orleans Bourbon and The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans.
While tourism drives NOLA’s economy, new hotels are a surprisingly remarkable feat. Due to strict city ordinances and preservation requirements, it’s not easy to open a hotel here. These four recently opened properties are marking a new era for the city’s new and improved hotel landscape.
NOPSI Hotel, New Orleans
History merges with contemporary vibes at NOPSI Hotel, New Orleans. Housed in the original headquarters of the New Orleans Public Service Inc. building, which dates to 1927 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this 217-room luxury hotel thinks big. High ceilings make the lobby enormous yet intimate; suites are among the most spacious in the city; and the rooftop pool and bar provide a sanctuary during hot summer days.
The real highlight is the hotel’s commitment to its storied narrative, including the well-preserved “bones” of the building. The industrial, elegant meeting space is masterfully designed without compromising the original beams and structure, and memorabilia from a bygone era is showcased throughout the property.
In 2016, Pontchartrain was part of the first wave of trendy, new hotel openings that included Ace Hotel New Orleans, Moxy New Orleans, Catahoula Hotel and Henry Howard Hotel. Pontchartrain, located along famed St. Charles Avenue in the Lower Garden District, feels like a time warp.
The hotel, which opened in 1927, still has its original terrazzo floors and crystal chandeliers. It also houses some of NOLA’s most significant, historic moments: Tennessee Williams wrote “A Streetcar Named Desire” here, and the New Orleans Saints football team was signed in the bar. Cooper Manning (brother of football stars Peyton and Eli Manning) is part of the team that spearheaded Pontchartrain’s fall 2016 reopening. With 106 vintage-inspired rooms, the hotel touts a stylish rooftop bar that frames unbelievable views of the downtown skyline, as well as three intimate restaurants, including the high-end Jack Rose, which will open this month.
Royal Frenchmen Hotel & Bar
A hip hideaway with a young, artsy staff, Royal Frenchmen Hotel & Bar is the first true hotel to open on iconic Frenchmen Street (considered “the Bourbon Street for locals” and known for jazz bars and nightclubs).
The 16-room property — which was transformed from two, mid-1800s Creole townhouses — is just steps from all the action, though it remains a relatively quiet retreat. It feels more like a stylish Garden District home, with chandeliers, paintings, fireplaces, a grand staircase and a lush, interior courtyard with a fountain. While there’s no restaurant or spa, the street-level bar has become a magnet for locals, and live music throughout the evening is common.
Windsor Court Hotel
Windsor Court Hotel, an upscale, landmark hotel, feels timeless with its buttoned-up staff, old-world allure and $8 million art collection that includes period paintings. While the AAA Four Diamond hotel has been around for decades, it unveiled an ambitious, $15 million renovation this month, and repeat guests are likely to notice.
All 316 guestrooms (a whopping 80 percent are suites) received impressive, modern facelifts that include brand-new furniture, such as sleeper sofas with memory foam and custom-designed coffee tables. Additionally, public spaces have been refreshed, and a new poolside bar offers specialty cocktails. Windsor Court has made substantial efforts to modernize the hotel without compromising the sophisticated elegance it’s known for.