A hotel of some form since 1893, this grand stone building just off of Canal Street has been attracting the famous and infamous with its luxury and entertainment (and one-time basement jazz club) for centuries since. The icon reopened after Hurricane Katrina, when the Waldorf Astoria took over and renovated the hotel to combine the old school grandeur of the storied property with the convenience of a modern and trusted hotel brand.
If you plan to stay downtown, don't rent a car. Traffic and parking can be bad, and New Orleans traffic laws downright confusing. The Canal St. streetcar stops on the corner of Roosevelt Place, dropping you off practically at the door of the hotel.
The rooms are classic but simple, and can appear somewhat basic in comparison to the old school drama of the lobby and other aspects of the property. Still, the comforts are that of any Waldorf Astoria hotel, like feather pillows and soft bedding, blackout curtains, and a 42-inch flat screened TV.
Every room has a spacious, multi-nozzle shower, and most include a second flat screened TV in the bathroom. Enjoy a plush robe and bath slippers.
From the chandeliers to the intricately tiled floors to the gold-trimmed columns and ceiling, the hotel's entranceway and lobby are filled with nostalgia and romanticism. It’s easy to see why the lobby is a popular destination for New Orleans’ families during Christmastime, when it is flanked with ornate tree and light displays. Visitors can sit in one of the many parlor chairs and enjoy coffee and treats from Teddy’s Cafe, while reminiscing on a jazzier, gilded era.
The spacious rooftop pool and hot tub, framed by a manicured garden and the iconic Jesuit church building across the street, is open year-round. The Rooftop Bar opens April to October. Talk to the front desk about renting private cabanas.
A full spa offers several types of massage, facial, hair, and nail treatments and more using natural and organic products in a truly luxurious and relaxing setting. Likewise, the gym is full service, with its 10+ cardio machines, and other equipment, providing more than the basics you might expect from a hotel.
Domenica is a favorite among New Orleanians for its pizza happy hour (half off pizzas from 2-5 p.m.). Delicious gourmet pizzas, antipasti and charcuterie, good wine, and the sexy, low-key atmosphere of a Roman vinoteca all make Domenica a great experience. Don't leave without trying the roasted cauliflower with whipped feta. Besides Domenica, The Fountain Lounge at the other end of the lobby serves cocktails and sophisticated small plates to share with friends while enjoying live music. Room service is available 24 hours.
Legend has it that famous 1930s Governor Huey P. Long constructed an entire stretch of highway between Baton Rouge and New Orleans just so he could reach the hotel faster and enjoy his favorite drink, The Ramos Gin Fizz. Fact or fiction, The Sazerac Bar maintains an old school lustre and talent for making classic concoctions. Step into the walnut-paneled rooms—lined with Paul Ninas murals and outfitted with just the right tinkle of soft jazz and low lighting—and you’ll be swept up in its legendary air, too.
The Sazerac can get crowded and noisy during weekend nights. If you're staying at The Roosevelt, take advantage of your proximity by visiting the bar on off hours, when you can enjoy the full experience of watching the bartender make your carefully crafted beverage while they entertain you with legends of the hotel's past.
You can’t get more centrally located than this: the Canal St. Streetcar stops at the corner of Roosevelt Place, and it’s a short walk to Rampart St. to catch the new St. Claude streetcar towards the Marigny and Bywater, or the St. Charles streetcar Uptown. You can comfortably walk (as much as the heat will allow) to the river, French Quarter, and Garden District from here.
On Canal Street itself, dining options are often tourist traps, so aim for side street gems. Cross Canal Street for inventive and delicious po boys at Killer Po Boys (5-minute walk). For fine dining, try August—debatably John Besh’s finest restaurant (12-minute walk), or Nina Compton’s incomparable Caribbean fusion at Compere Lapin (13-minute walk).
If you're looking for a late night cocktail lounge, step into Loa (8-minute walk), or at any time of day, rub elbows with the locals over frozen Irish coffees at Erin Rose (8-minute walk).
WHY WE LIKE IT
It’s grand and indulgent in way we often crave from a trip to New Orleans. The building is seeped in history, yet comfortably modern; it's a convenient jumping off point for out-on-the-town adventures, while offering up a relaxing stay—with the spa, pool, and top notch dining—within the building. Also, The Sazerac Bar. That’s reason enough. You’ll see.