Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A truly local experience on the downriver side of the French Quarter
Blocks away from Bourbon Street, a stay at Le Richelieu means you’ll be going to the same coffee shops, diners and lunch joints as the neighbors who live in this charming, quiet part of the Quarter.
Le Richelieu fits right in, with a long history dating to the early 1800s and several incarnations as a private mansion, a macaroni factory and an apartment building, which explains the hotel’s unusually large rooms and closets, as well as the mothballed kitchenettes.
Owner Frank Rochefort bought and converted the property into a full-service hotel in 1969. He continues to live here. Along the way, he’s made a family of the hotel staff, most of whom have worked at Le Richelieu for more than a decade (and some housekeeping staff for more than 35 years).
In the lobby, the traditional, New-Orleans-style decor -- black-and-white marble tiles, gold moldings, chandeliers -- is charming, but the rooms could use an update (particularly the 1960s-era bathrooms).
This quiet neighborhood on the far edge of the French Quarter allows for easy mingling with locals, and an easy walk to funky Frenchman Street
Le Richelieu is that rare French Quarter hotel with proximity to the Marigny, a funky neighborhood that’s seeing a rich resurgence in jazz clubs and hip restaurants. You could taxi there, though there’s probably enough foot traffic, even after dark, for it to be a quick and relatively safe walk.
Some of the Quarter’s most exclusive homes can be found on Barracks and Gov. Nicholls streets, where Le Richelieu is located. Blocks away from the tourist spots, this is a quiet neighborhood where you’ll see locals walking their dogs or riding bikes.
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.
Though it’s rare for a visitor to get into trouble in the French Quarter, this neighborhood doesn’t see a lot of foot traffic at night, and you might be better off taking taxis upriver to Harrah’s Casino, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, the Insectarium, Jackson Square, and Preservation Hall. Le Richelieu has its own taxi stand, so finding one shouldn’t be a problem.
Big rooms at Le Richelieu reflect their past as apartment units
Although the hotel renovated the rooms Post-Katrina, with new paint, carpet, curtains, beds, furniture, and plasma TVs, the decor is dated, and fabrics are already starting to look worn. And small-tiled floors and dated fixtures keep the fusty bathrooms firmly planted in the 1960s. Some rooms have ancient kitchenettes or kitchens left over from the hotel's days as an apartment building (we saw one hidden behind closet doors), but there's no cooking allowed in the hotel, so guests can only make use of the fridge.
An historic boutique with a lovely courtyard pool -- but no fitness center
Decent options on-site if you want to stay in -- or join the locals on the street
Le Richelieu’s Terrace Cafe is open continuously through breakfast and lunch, and offers Creole-tweaked diner fare. Eat at the bar, or in the slim patio with a courtyard view. Keep in mind that the hotel’s room service ends when the cafe closes, around mid-afternoon. Terrace Lounge serves drinks daily, and well into the night.
Le Richelieu also puts you in an ideal position to sample local eats: Stella!, the more formal, lush and imaginative restaurant of Scott Boswell, one of the city’s most brilliant chefs, is a three-minute walk from the hotel.
Nearby Cafe Envie and Croissant D’Or are good places for coffee (spiked with local booze, if you prefer) and pastries. And consider Verti Marte your 24-hour room service: This local deli delivers everything from po-boys to cigarettes, and is a favorite of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
Authentic and funky, this historic boutique -- located in a residential area on the French Quarter's far edge -- allows guests to experience the neighborhood as the locals do. It's also an easy walk to Frenchman Street, an exciting area in the Marigny experiencing a renaissance in live music and tapas-oriented restaurants. But while the old-world decor is charming enough in the lobby, it's less impressive in the slightly worn rooms, and bathrooms are in dire need of renovation.