There’s a new feel to downtown New Orleans as hotels,
restaurants and attractions are back online with a clean coat of
paint. Even hotels such as the Ritz-Carlton, located inside a
historical Canal Street building, have been completely renovated,
offering visitors a breath of fresh air.
Harrah’s New Orleans Hotel, the newcomer to the block, offers
visitors a shiny new hotel that blends into the architecture of the
historic warehouse district that surrounds it.
Located just minutes from the French Quarter, Harrah’s opens onto
the Fulton Street promenade, a pedestrian walkway that separates
the hotel from the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant. On the hotel
side of the street, celebrity chef Todd English serves up French
and Creole cooking in elegant Riche, also a newcomer to the
Not much of the original building was saved for the actual hotel,
but visitors will be greeted by the original porte-cochere. Much of
the 26-story, 450-room hotel was designed to match this element and
to fit in with the city’s architecture, said Sandie McNamara, vice
president of marketing for Harrah’s.
Rooms weren’t created for historical accuracy and that’s a good
thing. The rich purple and gold-accented guestrooms are spacious,
especially the oversized bathrooms. Room features include
high-definition televisions, twice-daily housekeeping services,
refrigerators, data-port accessibility, cordless phones in rooms
and baths and Wi-Fi.
Hotel amenities include 24-hour concierge service and a fitness
facility that offers communal TV screens along with individual TVs
and iPod connections.
Luxury suites on the 26th floor offer stunning views of the river
and city. No two rooms are alike, according to McNamara, but most
feature flat-screen TVs, luxurious bathrooms with everything from
beveled granite countertops to Jacuzzi tubs and high-end
furnishings. One room we visited offered a grand piano. All suites
offer butler service.
“Butlers do everything from shine your shoes to put rose peddles
in your tub,” McNamara added.
In an effort to maintain the New Orleans atmosphere, local artwork
is featured throughout the hotel. Upon entry, visitors are greeted
by the monumental embedded glass wall creation by Tulane University
art professor Gene Koss. Most of the rooms display Richard Sexton
photographs, offering sleepy seductive views of the Crescent City.
Other notable artists include leading Louisiana landscape artist
Elemore Morgan Jr. and John Scott, winner of the MacArthur
Foundation Genius award.
Harrah’s New Orleans is the largest hotel to be built by the
casino chain. Naturally, it’s only a short walk from Harrah’s New
Orleans Casino, the largest Vegas-style casino in the South. For
those who love to gamble while enjoying a luxury hotel, the
proximity is ideal. The casino also offers nightly entertainment,
from lounge acts to the current “Hats! The Musical for the Rest of
Your Life” that follows members of the Red Hat Society. Those who
prefer elegant accommodations without the hum of a
115,000-square-foot casino needn’t worry. There is enough space
between the two structures for hotel guests to feel completely
removed from the fray.
Harrah’s, of course, hopes for guests who enjoy both the hotel and
casino, but nonetheless has created partnerships with New Orleans
establishments to cater to non-gamblers, said Jim Hoskins, Harrah’s
senior vice president and general manager. The casino is the only
one of its kind in an urban environment that encourages its
visitors to seek out other aspects of the city, he said.
When the casino was first proposed for the foot of Canal Street,
residents feared that local establishments would lose customers.
Since it’s improbable that visitors to the historic city would
gamble without checking out the sites, it appears to be a win-win
situation for all.
“This city is built on fun,” Hoskins said. “You come here to have
fun, to relax, to get away. It really makes for a great
And there’s plenty of fun to go around.
8 Canal St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
“Hats! The Musical”
7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m.
Tickets can be booked online or by calling 800-847-5299
Discounts are available.