Fodor's Expert Review Pontchartrain Hotel
2031 St Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA 70130, USA See on Map
A team of hotel experts recently renovated this 1930s architectural delight of a building, overlooking the live oaks and streetcar tracks of St. Charles Street in the Garden District. The interior hotel and its four restaurant and bar outlets pay homage to the hotel’s history in funky, lush decor, while sneaking in great food, service, and modern amenities.
Room decor is kitschy but clean, with lots of green plush and florals. Even the standard room is spacious, and each one includes an antique writing desk, a locally curated mini bar and fresh flowers and plants.
Can you take the heat? Rooms prices drop to as ridiculously low as $111 a night during the summer months, when the humidity scares off some tourists.
Le Labo products (ahhh..), more antique style, and bathrobes.
Marble floors and more plants, but our favorite part of the lobby is the parlor off to the right, which serves as a waiting room for the restaurant and a general hangout for guests and visiting locals. Architecturally, it’s grand and precise in its windows and light features, but the decor is a beautiful clutter of floral, overstuffed furniture, plants, and portraits (Lil’ Wayne, unexpectedly, at the center).
YOU SHOULD KNOW Long line for the elevator at night? There are two elevators, but only one leads to Hot Tin, the popular rooftop bar. The first elevator in the bank is just for guests and never as congested.
There’s more fantastic interior design inside the Caribbean Room, John Besh’s restaurant, where an enormous chandelier of ferns cascades from a sunroof at the room’s center. The rattan furniture and other decor are fit to match the room’s pre-existing Charles Reinike murals. Oh yeah, the food: the menu aims to honor the building’s original restaurant, and you can expect expert renditions of many classic redfish, shrimp, and crawfish dishes. Bayou Bar in the front of the building serves a pub-grub take on the same menu in a tavern setting, and the Silver Whistle Cafe (another piece of history) serves coffee, light breakfast, and pastries.
Hot Tin, the rooftop bar with a deck overlooking the city skyline, is a lounge and cocktail bar with a speakeasy feel, both popular at happy hour for large groups and romantic champagne sipping late at night. At Bayou Bar downstairs, you might actually get work done or catch a game on TV—it's much less of a scene and more of a tavern, though the drinks list and food choices are as sophisticated as elsewhere in the hotel.
The Garden District is truly a verdant gem of the city, quieter and more neighborhoody than downtown (where you’ll find most other hotels), but still chock full of fine dining, shopping, and cultural endeavours. Staying on St. Charles, half the fun will be wandering—on foot or on the streetcar—and exploring the neighborhood architecture, po boy shops, and newer hipster coffee places and stores.
For divey atmosphere and po boys, go to Tracey's or Parasol's (15-minute walks): try the roast beef debris po boys at both so you can join the local argument over which is better. Commander's Palace is a New Orleans staple and a must visit, for the food and Southern hospitality, as well as the weekday 25-cent martini lunches. In the morning, it's a 9-minute walk to District Donuts, where you can indulge in donut selections from "simple," "fancy," to "extra fancy."
At Igor's (1-minute walk) you can sing karaoke with the locals and even do your own laundry (yes, it's also a laundrymat). Venture a little farther down St. Charles to The Delachaise (12-minute walk), a cozy, streetcar-shaped spot with fantastic cocktails, small bites and atmosphere.
WHY WE LIKE IT
We like that the Pontchartrain’s style is vibrant and detail-oriented, and that the service and general vibe follow suit. It’s large and accommodating, while feeling unique and off-the-main-drag at the same time. To truly do it up, renting a room (far ahead of time) during Mardi Gras would be an excellent way to enjoy the parades on St. Charles while still indulging in greater creature comforts.
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