Stroll through the French Quarter any night of the week, and you’ll likely be able to catch some homegrown live music without much effort. We’re talking Dueling Pianos at Pat O’s, a Second Line escorting a wedding party, a local Jazz legend headlining an unassuming dive on Frenchman Street. Whether you came to see a specific show or just soak in the saccharine buzz of too many Hurricanes and float where the evening takes you, New Orleans has bounced back and is ready to show you a good time. These design-centric hotels downtown keep you close to the action without (entirely) succumbing to the notorious debauchery.
Hotel Saint Vincent
Located in the historic Lower Garden District, Hotel Saint Vincent recently underwent a renovation at the hands of MML Hospitality, helmed by industry veterans Liz Lambert, Larry McGuire and Tom Moorman. The gracefully proportioned brick building at 1507 Magazine Street was built as an asylum for orphaned infants in 1861, and has lived many lives since. Lambert and McGuire bring their signature cheekiness and joie de vivre to the interiors, with marbled wallpaper from Voutsa called “Topless Sunbathers” in the guest rooms, and bold crimson accents punctuating the decor, from velvet headboards to bathroom tile. Coastal Italian cuisine meets Cajun spice at Paradise Lounge & San Lorenzo, the on-site bar and restaurant; lean into the vacation vibes with a stiff drink by the scalloped pool, we recommend the Creole Cocktail for a unique take on a classic Sazerac.
Hotel Peter & Paul
Keeping in the theme of “hotels in historic buildings that used to be something else,” Hotel Peter & Paul occupies a former Catholic School, Church and Convent compound in the Marigny. Each guest room is unique: The School House rooms favor romantic swaths of gingham and hand-painted cabinets, whereas the Rectory and Convent accommodations boast bespoke and antique furnishings—some come outfitted with cast iron clawfoot tubs and private balconies. The Elysian Bar spans the ground floor of the Rectory building; sprawled across a sunny courtyard outside, divided inside into intimate parlors, a cafe area and a golden-trellised Chinoiserie bar. Sumptuous and timeless, the Hotel Peter & Paul feels like a crisp linen shirt and a glass of iced tea on a hot day, inviting you to cool down and stay a while.
Ace Hotel New Orleans
Another feather in the cap of hospitality tastemakers Roman & Williams, the Ace New Orleans follows the familiar playbook with some notable nods to local vernacular. Infused with a sense of the blues and an authentic patina, the hotel decor is built upon a foundation of rich leather upholstery and artfully imperfect antiques. Music is as inextricable from the space as it is throughout the city—acoustic guitars and Tivoli Bluetooth radios come standard in guest rooms, while onsite venue Three Keys provides a weekly rotation of live talent. Described as “a place where musicians and performers, piano princes and drag queens, can feel the same freedom of spirit and collaboration they do in their living rooms and studios,” it doesn’t get much more inviting. Grab some oysters and a drink before the show at Seaworthy, a collaboration between Ace and the people behind Grand Banks oyster bar in New York—we suggest a bottle of the Muscadet and a tri-coastal tour on the half shell.
The Jeep Wagoneer is pulled in for some antics at these three incredible hotels, but our Southern jaunt to design-savvy stays isn’t over. Be on the lookout for Part 2 and Part 3 coming soon.