New Orleans, with its famous jazz scene, vibrant culture and pretty French Quarter, has to be the first port of call for a trip through this state. But beyond New Orleans, Louisiana has much to offer. Visit Baton Rouge, the state capital, and explore its many museums, parks and historical landmarks. Or head down to Lafayette, the heart of Cajun country, for some authentic food and more great music. Lovers of the great outdoors can tour the sprawling swamps (see how many alligators you can spot) and bayous, or lounge on the beaches of the Gulf Coast.
WATERMARK Baton Rouge, Autograph Collection
Found just a couple of blocks back from the river, this Marriott-owned property is in the downtown area of the city, two miles from the university, with airport transfers provided. It has 135 bedrooms set across 12 floors, with a choice of suites, king and queen rooms. Guests can dine onsite at The Gregory restaurant and lounge, or grab a quick bite and a drink at Milford’s On Third, the hotel’s Big Apple-inspired deli. The Watermark also offers four meeting venues, including a former 1920s vault and a 24-hour fitness suite.
Four Seasons New Orleans
Set in a 34-storey tower (the former International Trade Mart building), the Four Seasons has 341 guest rooms, including 81 suites. There are three restaurants and two bars onsite; including the contemporary Southern cuisine at Miss River to classic cocktails and light bites at the Bayou Bar and the romantic Moonlight Lounge on the rooftop, perfect for starry nights. There’s also an observation deck, a 75-foot infinity pool and a large spa with eight treatment rooms. You’ll find the property beside the Mississippi River, between the French Quarter and the Warehouse District.
Stay at the Ritz-Carlton where in-house live jazz comes as standard. This used to be an upmarket department store until the grand Beaux-Arts building was transformed into an elegant hotel. It’s on the fringes of the French Quarter, offering easy access to all areas of the city. Guests can dine in the M Bistro and wine in the Davenport Lounge, while those residing in higher grade rooms also have access to a Club Level lounge. The spa encompasses the ground floor of the hotel and includes a swimming pool.
The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel
A Grande Dame from another big name hotelier, The Roosevelt has an old school, glamorous feel. Walnut panelling, dark wood furnishings, leather armchairs, chandeliers, gilt columns and low-level lighting create a Presidential atmosphere befitting its title. Rooms come with Waldorf Serenity beds, 42-inch flat-screen TVs, Ferragamo toiletries and minibars. The Roosevelt was built in 1893, but underwent major reconstruction in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, reopening in 2009. The Mississippi River is within strolling distance and its feature restaurant, Sazerac, is a destination dining venue. There’s also an Italian eatery, a rooftop poolside bar and Teddy’s cafe for coffee and fresh pastries.
W New Orleans – French Quarter
The focal point for W’s property in the French Quarter is a lantern-lit cloistered courtyard, with modish furniture, a pool area surrounded by cabanas and a bubbling fountain. This is flanked by shuttered hotel rooms on either side — you could be fooled into thinking you’d just arrived on the French Riviera. The ethos at the trendy W chain is Whatever, Wherever, meaning patrons receive an elevated level of service. Street food-inspired small plates are served at the hip SoBou (whose name refers to its location south of Bourbon Street). W stands out in the city as one of its few upscale modern hotel brands.
While NOPSI is found smack bang in the centre of the Business District, it’s as popular with leisure travellers as those visiting for work. The art deco era building was originally intended as a public services office, and while there are nods to this heritage among the hotel’s artefacts, these days it’s an undeniably glamorous spot. From a minimal modern rooftop pool terrace to an opulent vaulted lobby, NOPSI provides lashings of luxe. The hotel’s dining room, Public Service, pays homage to the property’s former life, while its casual eatery, Above the Grid, is beside the small pool. And there’s a super gin bar, Undercurrent.
Loews New Orleans Hotel
Housed in a skyscraper (the hotel begins on the 11th floor), this is the place for views. At Loews, you can work out while looking at the Mississippi. The hotel also boasts a superb spa with an indoor saltwater pool. Its interior design moves between arty/funky and traditional elegance, while its food offering comes from the esteemed Brennan family restauranteurs, at Cafe Adelaide, serving New Orlean classic dishes. And if you fancy experiencing private dining, book a place at the Chef’s Table with wine pairings. Weekends bring live jazz in the bar, or guests fancying a flutter can pop across the road to Harrah’s Casino.
Le Meridien New Orleans
Go downtown to what was once a W property. Le Meridien now caters for a more mature market, with rooms modelled on mid-century Parisian style. Indeed this ‘grown-up’ arty feel extends throughout the building, with rooms dressed in calming, moody tones, accompanied by hints of retro design. Grab a book and order a whisky as you recline in the sophisticated lounge, or swim a few laps in the chic rooftop pool. Breakfast is served in Marche, with coffee brewed in Longitude 90. There are no options on-site for dinner, but with a plethora of restaurants close by, you needn’t stray far to find some excellent local food.