Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A favorite of business travelers and Mardi Gras krewes
Known for its capable meeting and banquet staff, the Hotel InterContinental has a corporate feel, enhanced by its front escalators, soaring lobby, and the adjoining Pan-Am Conference Tower.
The hotel’s personality comes from its globally conscious restaurants as well as the parties it caters -- on any given night you might bump into a Queen of Mardi Gras, well-heeled sales reps hoisting cocktails, or even celebrities like the Rolling Stones.
The InterContinental is extremely popular during Carnival season, as it’s the precise spot where the Rex Parade stops on Mardi Gras day, so that King Rex can toast his Queen (who’s just finished brunch with her court inside the hotel). Though rooms will be at a premium during that week, the InterContinental is markedly less expensive than its competitors at other times of the year.
Be sure to introduce yourself to the savvy concierge, who has a knack for pointing you to the locals’ restaurant favorites, and can get you last-minute reservations, besides.
Easy access to restaurants and attractions upriver, as well as the French Quarter
The Hotel InterContinental is located in the Central Business District (CBD) and directly on the St. Charles streetcar line, which you can take to explore the Garden District. The hotel is also within easy walking distance of the French Quarter, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, the Insectarium, Jackson Square, Preservation Hall, and dozens of world-class restaurants.
Across the street from the freewheeling French Quarter, the CBD adds towering office buildings to the New Orleans skyline. Corporations, foreign consulates and the city’s convention center are located here, as is the Superdome.
The CBD began its development in the early 1800s, when the Louisiana Purchase attracted newly minted Americans to a city once dominated by the Spanish and French. As port traffic increased along the Mississippi River, warehouses and manufacturing plants were built on the CBD shore. When cargo ships became containerized, these buildings were abandoned.
The World’s Fair in 1984 sparked new interest in the CBD, and developers restored the 19th century warehouses and plants into chic condos, hotels and restaurants. The building boom has also included art galleries, the National World War II Museum, and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.
Today, the CBD is a mellower counterpart to the French Quarter, and just as alluring. There’s plenty of foot traffic, especially closer to the river and around the St. Charles streetcar line. At night, visitors should be safe on main thoroughfares like Poydras Street, and anywhere there’s a major restaurant or hotel. A wealth of parking garages makes the CBD fairly easy to drive into, except during the week of Mardi Gras.
Canal Street is a retail center and the downriver boundary of the CBD. 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.
Generic rooms with an awkward bathroom configuration
As you might expect at a global chain hotel, guest rooms are fairly generic, with busy carpets and flat-screen TVs (which were upgraded after Oyster's stay).
The 479-room property includes 50 suites, many with city views. The guest baths are elegant, with marbled sinks, dark wood cabinetry, and nickel fixtures. Not all guests will appreciate the way standard rooms divide the bathroom, so that sinks open directly into the guest room.
An excellent fitness center and a nice rooftop pool, but a small business center
Surprising cuisines make these on-site restaurants unique
The InterContinental’s Veranda Cafe is a solid choice for breakfast, but its lunch buffet is the standout. In a nod to their international visitors, the Cafe focuses on global cuisines. One lunch buffet included steak and chicken fajitas, build-your-own tacos, chicken tortilla soup, ceviche, and flan.
Across the hotel, the upscale Soffaim bar doubles as a restaurant, offering a rare-for-New Orleans menu of Middle Eastern food, with not a po-boy in sight. Chef Klaus Hoppel took home the Fleur de Lis award from the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience, for his lamb sliders.
Across the street, John Besh’s brasserie, Lüke, is a local hot spot. You’ll see many of the city's beautiful people at happy hour, drinking house brews and noshing on local raw oysters.
In the mood for something familiar? Go back to the hotel and check out Pete’s Pub on the ground floor. The limited but solid bar menu includes gumbo, sandwiches, burgers and wings, and is open well into the night.
A slate of business amenities, like an Executive Club Lounge, courier service, and on-site foreign currency exchange, make this Central Business District chain hotel popular with corporate travelers. But the business center is small and rooms have dated, generic decor. Still, the hotel's rooms are often less expensive than local competitors', and the InterContinental’s place on the St. Charles line means that you’ll feel the intermittent rumbling of the streetcar, a true New Orleans experience. During Mardi Gras, that proximity is priceless.