Occupying what were the Maison Blanche department store and the S.H. Kress & Co. five-and-dime, this stately hotel first opened its doors in 2000 after a $250 million overhaul of the then-shuttered Beaux-Arts buildings. After Katrina, the property underwent a second renovation, which included the expansion of its spa (now a sprawling 25,000 square feet) and the addition of a private entrance for Club level guests.
This is a Ritz-Carlton, so you can expect the same (high) level of service and luxury—think ornate furnishings, sumptuous linens, and a $3.5 million art collection—as at other properties within the brand. But the property isn’t just another Ritz. Bellmen wear seersucker, the bistro serves po’ boys, and there’s live jazz in the lounge (which also serves a mean Vesper).
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The Ritz-Carlton is just a block from Bourbon Street—but bypass that boozy stretch of the French Quarter in favor of Royal and Chartres, which offer more sedate pleasures in the form of antique shops and art galleries. The hotel is also a short walk from classic spots like Arnaud’s (go for a French 75 at the bar) and Galatoire’s, where Friday lunch is a must. And no one should visit New Orleans without café au lait and beignets from Café du Monde. Eat them inside or get them to go and grab a bench in Jackson Square.
Need to Know
Rooms: 492 rooms and 35 suites. From $299. Check-in: 4 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: M Bistro, a farm-to-table take on classic New Orleans fare, is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Tea is served daily in the Davenport Lounge (named after trumpeter Jeremy Davenport), and there’s live music Wednesday through Saturday. Spa and gym details: The recently updated fitness center is open 24 hours and has Techno gym products. There’s also a full-service spa with 22 treatment rooms, a resistance pool and Jacuzzi, and Big Easy–inspired services like the Voodoo massage.
Who's it for: Ritz-Carlton regulars of all kinds—business and leisure travelers as well as families. Our favorite rooms: The Maison Orleans rooms and suites have their own private entrance, access to the Club Lounge (with an ever-changing array of nibbles), and decor inspired by the Garden District mansions. Good to know: During crawfish season, the property has a “crawfish concierge” who will school you in the art of peeling and eating crawfish.