Step through the stone carriageway and into the Soniat House's serene courtyard, framed by Japanese magnolias and seasonal plant life, and you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. This set of refined townhouses is stocked with the owners' impeccable choice of antiques, paintings on loan from New Orleans Museum of Art and vibrant textiles, with accommodations renovated often. Add the excellent service, and the whole experience at the Soniat House will make it hard to ever stay anywhere mediocre again.
YOU SHOULD KNOW This isn't the hotel for noisy groups, bachelor parties, or families with small children: the serene nature of the property, close quarters, and the sheer number of valuables (art and antiques) make it more suited for couples or small groups.
There are 20 rooms and 10 suites in the two townhouses (once owned by the same family) facing each other across the street. The owner, a collector of antiques from the States and Europe, designs each room with a unique mix of different period pieces, multi-patterned textiles, canopied beds, and books on art and local architecture. Some rooms have street-facing balconies while others look into the courtyards.
Suites are more popular (and generally pricier), so book a standard room if you're eager to get in.
Bathrooms are renovated to modern comfort with large marble showers and vanities.
There is a small parlor at the main entrance way of the hotel, and, besides the two bricked courtyards, a few pleasant common spaces with sofas and books in the hallways connecting the bedrooms.
Breakfast is buttery biscuits a la the owners' recipe, fresh juice, strawberry preserves, and cafe au lait. Eggs and other hot breakfast items are available upon request. Breakfast can be served in room, though most guests choose to enjoy it in one of the house's two sunny courtyards.
There is a small "help yourself" bar in the parlor.
This is a nice section of the French Quarter (think Brangelina's old neck-of-the-woods), and there's pleasantly little noise pollution. There’s a small parking lot across the street that the hotel rents out to guests, but it makes the most sense to travel on foot, by streetcar or pedicab throughout the French Quarter and CBD.
If you haven't tired of beautiful old courtyards, make a reservation at Cafe Amelie (5-minute walk), a reliable favorite for great food and romantic atmosphere. Frenchmen Street is a short walk from the house, and Adolfo's (6-minute walk) above the Spotted Cat Music Club, is a semi-well kept secret for garlicky, old school Creole/Italian goodness.
The historic Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop (5-minute walk) is always worth a visit, whether to sing along at the piano bar or brave a taste of their "purple drank." For a night of music and fun, walk to Frenchmen Street and enjoy a lively show at The Spotted Cat Music Club (6-minute walk) or a more refined jazz set at Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro (7-minute walk).
WHY WE LIKE IT
From the attentive staff to the carefully curated (and cared for) antique pieces in each room, the owner's love for this place will be reflected in a sure-to-be pleasant experience staying here.