Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Drawing on its proud literary roots, and delivering some of the city’s best cocktails
Perched high above the French Quarter, the Hotel Monteleone sign has been a beacon for lost travelers since 1886. The iconic hotel has stayed in the same family ever since. So many writers have lived in the Monteleone -- Truman Capote, William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams, for starts -- that the property is registered as a national literary landmark.
But there’s nothing drowsy about the Monteleone. It’s one of the city’s most vibrant hotels, hosting drink enthusiasts from all over the world every July for Tales of the Cocktail, which is headquartered at the hotel. The Monteleone also crackles with conference-goers, who make use of the hotel’s capable meeting staff and roomy facilities (though the business center could use extra computers, a dedicated staffer, and free Wi-Fi).
Because it’s an historic property, expect smaller standard rooms, starting at 240 square feet. But the Monteleone is evenly priced among its competitors, and runs deep discounts during the slow season (in New Orleans, that’s during the summer).
Also notable is the Monteleone's legendary Carousel Bar, which is dressed as a kids’ ride that slow-spins cocktail drinkers past a bank of windows facing Royal Street. Make sure to ask for the hotel’s signature Monteleone Cocktail, a citrus-spiked whiskey. While you’re spinning, look for celebrities like Dennis Quaid and Michael Jordan, who have been spotted here. Also seen at the Hotel Monteleone: ghosts.
In the French Quarter, within easy walking distance of art galleries, boutiques, museums, and world-class dining
The Hotel Monteleone is located on chic Royal Street, with its boutiques, art galleries and fine street musicians, and only a few blocks from the Mississippi River and its riverboats.
Being on the leading edge of the French Quarter also means that the hotel is an easy walk to streetcars, Harrah’s Casino, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, the Insectarium and must-sees in the Central Business District, like the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and the National World War II Museum.
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. Keep in mind that parts of Royal Street close in the afternoon to all vehicles.
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.
Homey historic decor, but standard rooms are on the small side
Old-fashioned room decor -- gold moldings on the mirrors, hanging light fixtures with faux candles, pale yellow striped wallpaper, floral pillows -- is homey and reasonably charming, if not quite luxurious. Be sure to ask for upper-story rooms, which offer wide, gorgeous views of the Mississippi River and the French Quarter, or Mid-City New Orleans.
Rooms underwent renovations in 2010, bringing in new bedding and comforters, and updating guest bathrooms, now outfitted with marble floors and granite countertops.
An excellent day spa and a lovely rooftop pool with city views
The Monteleone is one of the few local properties in its class to have a dreamy day spa on-site. Spa Aria’s services include reflexology, skin treatments, a lemongrass body exfoliation, and massage; if you’ve forgotten a bath or beauty product, you’ll find one here.
There’s not a notable restaurant on-site, but great eats are all around
The circus-themed Carousel Bar is a playground for grown-ups, and will expand its food service in the afternoons, offering Cajun bar fare like boudin balls, as well as chicken tenders and wings.
Criollo Restaurant and Lounge opened in mid-2012 with a varied European menu. Entrees highlight French, Spanish, and Carribean ingredients, with an added Creole twist. (Criollo is Spanish for "Creole.")
There’s also no shortage of exceptional dining within a few blocks of the hotel: the grand dames of New Orleans cuisine like Galatoire’s, Brennan’s and Antoine’s, as well as fresh newcomers like Iris and Sylvain. And just around the corner from the Monteleone is the famed Acme Oyster House.
The 600-room French Quarter hotel has made literary history and cocktail history, but it's no museum piece. Monteleone renovated guest rooms in 2010, completing its new look in 2012 with updates to its common areas and restaurant. On the upper floors, the hotel offers some of the city's most exhilarating views. If you'd rather get your kicks on the ground, ride the legendary Carousel Bar.