Bienville House Rating: 3.0 Pearls
French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • Charming courtyard and terraces
  • Pretty, heated saltwater pool
  • Free daily breakfast
  • Pet-friendly
  • Free afternoon snacks
  • Room service available from the excellent Iris restaurant next door

Cons

  • Daily Wi-Fi fee
  • Daily parking fee
  • Single slow elevator
  • No fitness center
  • Not all rooms have windows

Bottom Line

Straddling two busy French Quarter streets, the historic Bienville House is as an urban oasis, with tropical rooftop terraces and a soothing courtyard. This boutique hotel has fewer than 100 rooms, a parlor-like lobby and friendly touches, such as free lemonade and cookies in the afternoon. High ceilings make the rooms feel spacious, but the decor is unremarkable, and Standard Rooms lack windows.

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 Scene

Cute boutique on one of the French Quarter’s most heavily trafficked streets

Guests will feel far from the French Quarter bustle on the Bienville House’s top-floor terraces, where bright flowers and fluffy palms touch a wide blue sky, and the only sounds you’re likely to hear are birds and the occasional ship’s horn. This is the place to take room service from the Bienville’s adjacent restaurant, Iris, which offers some of the city’s freshest contemporary plates. At Iris’ helm is the Food & Wine-honored Chef Ian Schnoebelen (named one of America’s top new chefs in 2007).

Another cool spot (and a favorite among locals) is the shaded, flowery Bienville House courtyard, complete with a saltwater pool (it's a bit on the small side, but good for a dip). A running fountain remarkably blocks out the noise from North Peters Street. (The hotel’s other side faces Decatur Street, just opposite a fire station).

The building is a nationally registered historic property, and in its early years was the site of a rice and syrup manufacturing plant. Its first incarnation as a hotel came in 1935, and the local Monteleone family bought it in 1972.

 Location

In the center of the French Quarter, within easy walking distance of art galleries, boutiques, museums, and world-class dining

The Bienville House Hotel sits in the liveliest heart of the French Quarter, backing onto South Peters Street and within walking distance of streetcars, the Mississippi River and its riverboats, Harrah’s Casino, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, the Insectarium, Jackson Square, Preservation Hall, and dozens of world-class restaurants. Locals come to this part of the city for Tipitina’s and the House of Blues, and to eat at Iris.

The French Quarter, or the Vieux Carré, is an historic neighborhood that stretches 12 blocks to the Mississippi River. Originally settled by the Spanish, and then the French, the Quarter features a variety of architecture, including colorful Creole cottages, gorgeous antebellum mansions, intricate ironwork and some buildings that date to the late 1700s.

Today, the Quarter is a mix of private homes, museums, commercial shops, restaurants and hotels, as well as wide open public spaces. Property values in the Quarter have gone up since the 1984 World Fair, driving more tourist-related development but also creating a residential demand among elites and celebrities.

The French Quarter is fairly safe during the day; at night, you’ll be fine in tourist areas. Local cops are experts at crowd control, and it’s rare for a visitor to get into trouble. Taxis are easy to find, except during Mardi Gras and Halloween.

Canal Street is a retail center and the upriver boundary of the French Quarter. Canal is one of the widest streets in the country and a major thoroughfare in the New Orleans, though it’s packed with national retail and souvenir shops that aren’t worth exploring for a visitor with limited time.

  • 25-minute taxi or shuttle ride from Louis Armstrong International Airport
  • 1-minute walk to Tipitina’s or House of Blues
  • 4-minute walk to Woldenberg Park on the Mississippi River
  • 5-minute walk to Canal Street, where you can pick up streetcars to St. Charles Avenue or the New Orleans Museum of Art
  • 10-minute walk to Jackson Square and Café du Monde
  • 15-minute walk to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum
  • 5-minute drive to the National World War II Museum

 Rooms

Aim for the upper floors, with balcony or terrace access

About a third of the Bienville House’s rooms overlook the blooming interior courtyard, have balconies facing Decatur Street, or open onto the rooftop terraces. The hotel underwent renovations in 2010, freshening up guest room bedding, curtains and carpets.

Standard rooms are on the small side and the baths are very basic, but come decked out with upscale toiletries and bathrobes.

  • The Standard guest room is windowless, and a modest 280 square feet. The Deluxe room is scarcely bigger (300 square feet) but is available with a four-poster king bed (ask for courtyard views).
  • The Sun Deck Room is a good size, at 350 square feet, but its real draw is direct access to the rooftop terrace. The Superior and Superior King Salon rooms each have private balconies, and are sized at 350 square feet and 400 square feet, respectively.
  • At 850 square feet, the Penthouse Suite is the biggest room, with separate living and dining rooms, an extra half-bath, and a long street balcony. The master bath has a glass shower and marble Jacuzzi tub.
  • Gilchrist & Soames bath products
  • Clock radio with iPod docking station
  • Guest room safes big enough to hold a laptop
  • A pillow menu lets guests choose between non-allergenic, foam or down pillows.
  • Frette designer bed linens are triple-layered
  • For pet owners: a welcome mat, water and food bowls, a free bag of treats, and a map of pet-friendly places in the city

 Features

This historic boutique is small, but its sky-scraping terraces and quiet courtyard offer rare tranquility in the city.

  • Free continental breakfast features sister property Hotel Monteleone’s own Dark Roast Blend coffee.
  • Free afternoon snacks
  • The adjacent Iris restaurant is open Thursdays and Fridays for lunch; dinner is served Wednesday through Monday.
  • Heated saltwater swimming pool is attractive, with a tinkling fountain and lots of green plants in the surrounding courtyard -- but a little small
  • There’s no dedicated business center, but audio-visual services are available, and there is a conference room and board room on-site.
  • No fitness room
  • View full list of amenities

 Food

One of the city’s best restaurants at your fingertips

Lucky you: Chic, award-winning Iris is downstairs. With a modern menu bright with seasonal ingredients, Iris is a welcome break from the heavy eating you’ll be doing elsewhere. The prix fixe lunch always ends with a scoop of fruity house-made sorbet; at night, try any of the pretty salads or seafood dishes, like Gulf shrimp in a coconut broth with fried ginger. And cap it all with one of the restaurant’s clever signature cocktails, or a cup of sake.

 Bottom Line

Straddling two busy French Quarter streets, the historic Bienville House is as an urban oasis, with tropical rooftop terraces and a soothing courtyard. This boutique hotel has fewer than 100 rooms, a parlor-like lobby and friendly touches, such as free lemonade and cookies in the afternoon. High ceilings make the rooms feel spacious, but the decor is unremarkable, and Standard Rooms lack windows.

Things You Should Know About Bienville House

Address

  • 320 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

Room Types

  • Deluxe Room
  • King Suite Interior Room No Windows
  • Penthouse Suite
  • Standard Room
  • Sun Deck Room
  • Superior King Salon
  • Superior Room

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 83
Pool: N/A
Fitness Center: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Jacuzzi (in room): N/A
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Hotel Information

Location: French Quarter, New Orleans
Address: 320 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA 70130
(See Map)
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