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The Beaux Arts building at 610 Poydras Street in New Orleans has seen many incarnations; the latest is The Whitney Hotel. Now, the hotel’s owner, New Orleans Hotel Collection, is finishing up a renovation to make The Whitney even more pristine.
The seven-story brick and granite building dates back to 1909, when it housed Metropolitan Bank. Architects used bas-relief urns as part of its elaborate details, and guests will notice this element in the hotel’s current logo. Other businesses that called the building home were the Times-Democrat newspaper and Pan-American Life Insurance Company. Whitney National Bank took over Metropolitan in 1929 and purchased the rest of the building from the newspaper. By the end of the 20th century, the building became a hotel.
New Orleans Hotel Collection acquired the property in 2014 and is slowly renovating each floor to minimize inconvenience to its guests. The renovation will conclude this summer, according to Marc Becker, director of sales and marketing for New Orleans Hotel Collection.
Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the hotel offers 93 guestrooms and suites, marble interiors, intricate brass moldings throughout and the original bank vault just off the lobby. Located in the Central Business District, The Whitney is only a short walk or drive to the French Quarter, the theater district and the Superdome, but the hotel’s thick walls offer a quieter experience than one may find in the Vieux Carre or on Canal Street.
Rooms include lush mattresses and linens, workspaces with ergonomic chairs and complimentary newspapers, water and Wi-Fi access. A fitness center, meeting spaces, a business center and restaurant Bistreaux at the Bank are also on-site.
One of the most interesting aspects of The Whitney is Bistreaux’s mural, created in 2007 for the hotel by New Orleans artist Tony Green. Utilizing the restaurant’s connection to the old bank — a branch of The Whitney Bank still exists on the other side of the restaurant’s wall, and shares a common high ceiling — Green painted panels around Bistreaux that make it look as if diners are peeking into the bank. Visitors will recognize many of the mural’s characters, including The Three Stooges; W.C. Fields; and Laurel and Hardy, being robbed by gun-toting silent-film star Ben Turpin, who was a New Orleans native.
Parking is at a premium on Poydras, but valet parking is available, as is accommodations for tour buses.