Hotel review: Hotel Monteleone, New Orleans

Arriving in New Orleans after a wonderful (if somewhat bottom-numbing) thirty-hour train journey down from New York, it’s probably not an understatement to say that we would have been ecstatic to see most hotel rooms. But the rooms at the Hotel Monteleone, grand-dame of New Orleans, aren’t most hotel rooms – they’re luxurious, supremely comfortable, and just a tiny bit old fashioned. Precisely what you need from a hotel in the Big Easy.

Now, I’m the first to admit that this isn’t the kind of hotel we would normally choose  – from the website, it appeared to be a little fussy and over-the-top, and we’d almost always prefer somewhere a little less ostentatious. Yet, stepping into the Monteleone, it all made sense; yes, the lobby is undoubtedly grand, but there’s nothing stuffy about this hotel – you wouldn’t feel underdressed if you stepped out of your room in jeans, for example – and this was added to by the real friendliness of the staff (which we found to be typical of New Orleans) from the moment we arrived.

We were incredibly fortunate to be staying in a Vieux Carre Suite, which was just wonderful – especially as I came down with a raging cold while we were there, so while I was tucked up in bed recovering, Matthew was able to sit in the separate lounge and watch TV without disturbing me. The suite was very comfortable – maybe a bit too comfortable as it was quite an effort to get out of bed in the mornings – and we could very easily, and happily, have stayed for quite a few more days. Hotel bathrooms, even in luxury hotels, can often let the rest of the room down, but this one – with its separate bath (big enough for two) and shower (ditto) – just added to the appeal of the suite. My only complaint would be that there was what seemed to be a boiler cupboard in the lounge, which constantly made a lot of noise; fortunately, once we were in our bedroom at night we were able to shut the door to the lounge and not hear anything.

The hotel has a fantastic rooftop pool – though it was pretty crowded during the day, at night, when it was still balmy out, it was a great place for a cool-down and a swim before dinner (well, for Matthew – I had to watch from the sidelines, thanks to my cold), and the city’s amazing buzz was still tangible even from up on high.

And then there’s the bar. You can’t go to New Orleans without hearing about the Monteleone’s Carousel Bar. Which is exactly as it sounds – the bar is decked out like a carousel and the seats revolve around it – so between ordering and getting your drink you’ll probably have circled twice. This is as ridiculously over-the-top as it sounds, but not as tacky as I expected to be – and we loved it. It helped that their delicious cocktails were only about $9 (about £5.50) –  ridiculously cheap for a hotel bar – and the jazz playing in the background stops it from feeling like you’re at a fairground.

The other thing we loved about the hotel was it’s location, in the French Quarter. Parts of the Quarter (namely Bourbon Street) are incredibly touristy and busy – think hundreds of people wandering around with “Big Ass Beers” and hand grenades (a lurid, fluorescent green cocktail) – but the quieter streets are so much more interesting and rewarding. The Monteleone is on much quieter Royal Street, within easy walk of countless excellent restaurants, including our absolute favourite, the Green Goddess (serving food that’s literally so good it’ll make you cry), and the divine BBQ shrimp at Mr’s B’s Bistro. Yum.

{We stayed at Hotel Monteleone with a combination of complimentary and reduced priced rates, courtesy of the hotel. That said, this review is completely my own opinion, and has not been influenced by this.}

Exterior photo courtesy of dutchybaby.

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