New Orleans Recommendations

We’re heading to New Orleans for a little weekend getaway next month and I need all the help I can get! I still haven’t booked a hotel. Normally, I am very decisive about these things, but all of the reviews seem so mixed. Some people urge me to stay in the French Quarter while others say to avoid Canal Street at all costs. I have narrowed it down to the W French Quarter, Loews Hotel, and the International House Hotel. I just can’t handle floral bedspreads and chintz galore which seems to be the running theme in most NOLA hotels. Any opinions on the three hotels that I am deciding between? I would like to go ahead and book something this evening.

We definitely plan to check out the beautiful Garden District. If you can believe it, we have lived in Houston all of our lives and have never been to New Orleans, so we would love to know about any sights, restaurants, shops, or activities that you consider to be absolute musts. I have several Magazine Street shops on my list including Perch, Quince, Grace, Spruce, Neill and O’Brien, and Bryan Batt’s Hazelnut. Any other recommendations out there? Thank you!

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  1. The Intercontinental was in a great location, easy to get to and from there. I would recommend them highly, even though they’re a bit “southern floral”.

    If you’re going to NOLA, you have to go to cafe du monde and get the beignets and cafe au lait’s. Worth the wait for the NOLA tradition!

  2. Hi Paloma! A co-worker of mine recently went to New Orleans on a business trip, and came back raving about a fabulous meal at Cochon. (

    Also, a can’t miss (but sort of touristy) activity is of course grabbing beignets and chicory coffee at Cafe du Monde. It’s open 24 hours.

    Have a fabulous time!

  3. I would definitely choose the W French Quarter… all the others are technically in the CBD, which means walking/crossing Canal. Also, the Westin in the Canal Place shopping center would be a great option. While it fronts on Canal, the back ‘backs’ the French Quarter.

    Have a wonderful trip to my little town! Ping me if you want some dining suggestions!!!

  4. My husband is originally from New Orleans and if there is anything he has taught me about that amazing city is the food and the music!

    On your foodie list should be: a shrimp po’boy, crawfish boil, oysters, and gumbo! Stop by Cafe DuMond for a cup of coffee and beniet. Last I heard, Commander’s Palace still has 25 cent martinis during lunch 😉 Oh, if you can somehow sneak a kingcake amongst all that eating, do it. Its a giant cinnamon roll filled with cream cheese, I promise it will not disappoint.

    You must, of course, experience the amazing music of New Orleans, so spend a night at a jazz club. Yell do someone on the street “WHO DAT!” and enjoy every minute of it!

    Have fun girly!

  5. DO NOT stay at the W. We had the worst time at the W in New Orleans. Granted, we didn’t stay at the French Quarter one, but I would stay away from a W at all costs! Loews, was cute though.

    Just my two cents.

  6. You are going to have so much fun! I would definitely stay in the French Quarter (but not on Canal Street) – it is such a unique experience. Just walking around is so fun. Then take the St. Charles Streetcar up through the Garden District.
    These are some of my favorite restaurants: Lüke, August, Bon Ton Cafe, Cochon, Cochon Butcher for a snack and glass of wine, and Arnauds and Galatoires for a classic New Orleans meal. Also go to Central Grocey and split a muffuletta. I haven’t been to either but hear that Lillette and La Petite Grocery are great spots on Magazine Street.
    For shopping in the French Quarter, Royal street has great antiques and jewelry. Also Nadine Blake on Royal has darling paper goods, jewelry, and small accessories. Enjoy your getaway!!

  7. Can’t wait to see peoples recommendations. I’m headed to New Orleans in mid-June for a work/pleasure trip. For restaurants I’m definately hitting up Restaurant August and BonTon Cafe for the crab au gratin.

  8. The W!

    I stayed at the Sheraton on Canel for JazzFest for years…it’s just fine. In recent years, we’ve stayed at a little boutique hotel nearby and for the life of me, I can’t remember the name.

    Have you looked at tripadvisor? Members take pictures of their actual rooms and post them. It sometimes helps me pick.

  9. Paloma,
    I am a loyal follower of your blog and I am a designer here in New Orleans! I would love to take you and your hubby for a drink if you would like or give you any recommendations you might need. I run a showroom on Magazine (right next to N+O) called Interior Designs, Inc. The W in the French Quarter is great and it is nice to be right there in the Quarter. The International House is the most beautiful and has a gorgeous bar but is a few blocks from things in the warehouse(business district)district. It would be a great place to have a drink. Loewe’s is a pretty standard, nice hotel but does not have the “special” quality of the other places. Not that the W is special but you can walk there from anywhere in the Quarter. Anyway, let me know exactly what days you guys are going to be here and I will give you restaurant recommendations, etc.. and you must meet me for a drink friday or saturday night!

  10. When I first came down for school at Tulane, we stayed at the W and it is very chic and nice. It also has its own roof pool. NOLA is a great restaurant…I just made reservations there for my graduation dinner for the whole family because it is soo good! I work on Magazine street next to Hazelnut and there are some fun shops in and around there. Patois is also another great restaurant and is on Laurel street and webster in the uptown area. I will email you with more recommendations of things to do and places to visit!

  11. Dear Paloma:

    Arrange to interview the
    “Two Anns”:Ann Dupuy and Ann
    Holden. Top decorators
    based in New Orleans.
    Ask to tour some of their projects.


  12. Check out Amanda Stone Talley’s studio, she is an AMAZING artist! Also, the Ritz Carlton offers a “Crawfish Concierge” in the courtyard for $12 per person, and it in delicious!

  13. I would say definitely stay in the French Quarter, and not on Canal Street. My favorite place to stay is the Bienville House. It’s smaller, faces the river, and is just blocks off Jackson Square.

    While in New Orleans, like others have mentioned, you must have chicory coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde, tourist-y as it may be. The experience also wouldn’t be the same if you didn’t eat at Mother’s. And as someone else mentioned, take the street car to the Garden District!

    Lastly, I noticed no one mentioned Bourbon Street. It’s a must for at least one night in NOLA, and you have to hit the Cat’s Meow. Everyone who’s ever been to NOLA has a “Cat’s Meow” story. (I have several!)

    Have a great time!

  14. If you like raw oysters don’t eat them. As much as you’ll be tempted you could get a bad one like I did and spend you whole trip sick in your hotel room. Save raw seafood for when you are home in Houston. Other than that have a blast. We always have.

  15. Hi, Paloma! I constantly post about New Orleans, particularly design in Nola. You are on the right track! I recommend staying at the W in the FQ or Loews. I love the lobby of the IH and the restaurant and bar, but, honestly, the rooms are very so-so and tiny. I will happily send you more dining recs, etc. if you are interested. I am in Houston often…let’s hope that you start to come to Nola often b/c you have such a wonderful viz.
    Jessie aka New Orleans lifer

  16. i’m afraid i can’t help with hotels but i’ll third the suggestion to battle the long lines at café du monde for the new orleans tradition of freshly baked beignets — to die for. my favorite afternoon there was spent wandering rather aimlessly around the french quarter — i’m certain you will fall in love with the architecture and all the lovely gardens!

  17. My husband is from New Orleans and we visit a couple of times each year. Ritz Carlton is fantastic, even though it wasn’t on your list. So is Bienville House. Sucre is AMAZING!! It’s a patisserie on Magazine, and it is hands down my fave NOLA place. Must see if you have a sweet tooth. Mother’s is great as well. John G with debris and a Bloody Mary. Your husband will love that. Cafe DuMonde and the pralines are normal touristy things. There is also hurricanes at Pat O’Briens and the Jax Brewery. Antoines is unbelievable food and ambience. Ask for Chetta as a waiter. Commanders Palace is great also. Tujagues is an interesting restaurant with a showstopper antique bar. Brunch is a fun thing. Brennans is the best, must get bananas foster there. Court of Two Sisters is great as well though. Shopping on Magazine is fun. But just walking and taking in all the sights, sounds and smells is the best:) You will definitely make lifetime memories. Best wishes for your travels!

  18. The International House Hotel… I took a class on the art and culture of New Orleans last year as an architectural elective… I wrote my final paper on the similarities between the International House Hotel and the Plantation home… They change there “dress” from summer to winter… Light and airy for summer and dark and passionate for winter.
    There is also a great bar in the hotel. I have never been but did lots of research for my paper.

    Arkansas Interior Designer

  19. I stayed at the W French Quarter, and we really liked it. It’s a pretty typical W experience and was a convenient walking distance to everywhere we wanted to go. Francis Ford Coppola just opened up a hotel there: No idea where it’s located, but I’ve stayed at his other hotels and really liked them.

    As far as food, definitely do Cafe du Monde, we also liked Mother’s for lunch – right behind the W, and if you want a splurge, Emeril’s restaurant NOLA on Saint Louis Street was delicious – just make sure to get reservations.

  20. Hi Paloma!

    As a fellow Houston-resident/interior design junkie, I would recommend the W in the French Quarter. My husband and I just went to NO and stayed at the International House, and as The Gimlet Eye commented above, the design is beautiful in the lobby/bar but really stops there. The rooms leave little to be desired, they are small and pretty basic. We went to the W in the French Quarter for drinks and have promised ourselves that on our next trip to NO we will be staying at that hotel, lots of charm and was in the most perfect location. While the area is without a doubt very busy, once inside the W you felt far away from the crowds.

    Enjoy your stay!!! I can’t wait to hear about all you do while you’re there – it’s such a beautiful place!


  21. I’m from New Orleans! My fiance and I stayed at the St. Louis Hotel in the Quarter for our wedding night. I seem to remember them having all white bedding and the courtyard is so nice.

    YOU MUST GO to Cafe du Monde for beignets the very first chance you get!!

    I have a bunch of attrations listed on my wedding website… if you wanna see, it’s right here:

    Have fun and Laissez les bons temps rouler! (that means “Let the good times roll!”)

    Oh, and while you’re shopping on Magazine stop by Joey K’s to eat. The food is AMAZING!

  22. Commander’s Palace. One of the great dining institutions in New Orleans. The service and atmosphere are impecable, and the food is divine. I recommend the shrimp and grits. During lunch, martinis are only 25 cents. Commander’s is in the middle of the garden district and only two blocks from the St. Charles street car line.

    And don’t be afraid of oysters! Get them fresh where they are caught, rather than shipped back home to Houston!

    Have a great time! I live in NOLA and love to hear of people coming to visit.

  23. Thank you, everyone for the amazing recommendations so far! I don’t know how we’ll fit it all into one weekend, but it will give us a reason to go back.

    Shannon, I am so intrigued by Coppola’s place. It looks amazing! They don’t have any info about reservations on their website, though.

  24. The Roosevelt Hotel (newly renovated and fabulous)
    Any of the Brennan’s Restaurants
    Galitiores (Such a NOLA tradition)
    Heirloom Antiques on St. Charles (you can take the streetcar right to it on your way to the beautiful homes in the Garden District)
    Cafe Du Monde
    City Park is great right now!
    Jaques Imos (near Tulane, for a real creole dinner experience!)
    Jackson Square (go in and look at the Cathedral- it’s amazing)
    French Market (some of it is tourist-y, but you’re a tourist!)
    WINO wine bar (allows you to put credit on a little card and taste all of the wines you want by just swiping your card and paying per taste)
    Lucy’s Retired Surfer Bar
    Everything on Magazine Street 🙂

    Enjoy your trip!

  25. The year of Katrina, I actually stayed at the W French Quarter. Loved it! Very sexy @ night, especially in the courtyard, with all the lanterns and furniture. Loved the bathroom, very classic and modern. Oh and the breakfast eggs perfectly fluffy and grits! But do have beignets and breakfast at one of the more well known establishments. I can’t think of the name but its in the French Quarter and on Sunday they have crazy lines waiting to get in!

  26. I have stayed at the W in the French Quarter – it was very nice and had an amazing courtyard with a cute little pool to cool off in. The staff was great and we had a nice room.

    Definitely go to Cafe Du Monde
    Central Grocer for a Muffaletta
    and Commanders Palace in the Garden District for lunch/dinner!

  27. You’re going to adore New Orleans!
    Hit Cafe Lillette on Magazine Street for a casual, bistro bite and then wander down to Sucre for macaroons.
    Famed chef John Besh’s Restaurant August is wonderful for dinner, and I think you and Fabian would both appreciate the architecture and decor.

    Beignets at Cafe du Monde is a must of course, as well as browsing the antiques stores on Royal Street.

    I’ve heard great things about the Leows Hotel — my husband and I love the Windsor Court, which often has reasonable deals and is in a great location, but it may be more traditional than what you’re going for.
    Have a wonderful time and laissez les bons temps rouler!

  28. hi Paloma, I am in Baton Rouge and headed to New Orleans tomorrow. I am going to meet Jessie and have lunch with a fun group of bloggers, designers, shop owners at Coquette. I am going to do a recap next week on where I go to shop. It has been great for me to read the comments with a few suggestions, good timing. I have been to nola probably thirty times and the food is great everywhere!

  29. Stay at the international House. Boutique, fun bar and restaurant, and locally owned. Plus, it is convenient to the French Quarter without having to be in the midst of the weekend crowds that can be loud. If you want to stay in the Quarter, Beinville House is good as is the Hotel Monteleone. Have fun. It is a great city!!!

  30. Hi, I stayed at the International House in March. Our room was very “tired”. Very pretty lobby and bar though. Have you checked the Iberville Suites? It is owned by the Ritz Carlton and shares the same workout facilities. While on Magazine St. be sure to stop by Hazelnut for great accessories. It is owned by one of the actors on Mad Men. He was actually there when my husband and I shopped there!

  31. Hi there, recently discovered your blog and absolutely adore it! I was just in NO the first time in February, our by far absolute favorite meal was at Acme Oyster House, the grilled oysters are incredible, and I wish like anything I could get them in Chicago!!! Also enjoyed: antique store window shopping on Royal Street, Beignets at Cafe Du Monde, Grits at any of the smaller cafes, and strolling thru the gorgeous Garden District… have a wonderful time!

  32. Definitely check out adorable Tupelo Honey shop on Magazine street. It’s very easy to miss, but we stopped in and the girl that started it has a small storefront and does graphic design. She is so sweet!

    Please please please go to Frenchmen Street at night for some music.

    For food? We loved Port of Call – a dive bar on Esplanade for a burger. We had a delicious Sicilian dinner at Irene’s Cuisine in the French Quarter – would go back there in a second. And if you’re there on a Thursday night, go see Kermit Ruffins at Vaughns! They serve red beans and rice at the bar at midnight and the music is out of this world!

    Oh oh, forgot – get a muffaletta at Central Grocery on Decatur. It was so good we went two days in a row.

  33. I’m from Houston, too, and just went to New Orleans for the first time in January. So unbelievable. Haha…

    I blogged about food here:

    Little tip for Cafe du Monde: We went at about 9 a.m. on a Friday and didn’t have to wait at all.

    I also recommend taking a carriage ride/tour around the French Quarter when you FIRST get there:

    We went on our last day and didn’t have time to back and see some of the cool spots pointed out by our guide.

  34. There is a gelato and sweets store on magazine street called SUCRE. It is amazing! It has the best red velvet cake I have ever had! It is only a block or so down from perch, which I totally fell in love with and wanted to take everything home with me.

    Also I had an amazing dinner at Emeril Lagasse’s restaurant, NOLA. I highly recommend it.

    Of course you have to do Cafe du Monde.

    Have fun!

  35. you’ve gotten some great suggestions. some of these have been mentioned, but here are my recommendations as a louisiana native.

    magazine street – sucré is there. also check out bella donna.

    tour of the garden district. ride the trolley.

    muffuletta at central grocery

    hurricane at pat o’briens at night –

    brunch at court of two sisters –

    brunch at mother’s –

    beignets at cafe du monde –

    any of john besh’s restaurants –

    afternoon tea at windsor court –

    lunch at galatoire’s –

    also, all the hotels you’re considering are great options. i think you’d be pleased with any of them.

    have fun!!

  36. Paloma:
    Me again! Sorry to leave another comment, but I wanted to let you know that I posted about the Loews yesterday. I included some more interior shots of the hotel, which may help you make your decision. I love the Swizzle Stick bar there…a nice respite after a day/night of partying in Nola! 😉