Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A subtle facade and slim room count give this boutique hotel the feel of private loft apartments
Loft 523 is a shot of trendiness to what has historically been a commercial, buttoned-up (for New Orleans) neighborhood. Inside, the art gallery-quality of the lobby -- with modern, minimal furnishings and lofted ceilings -- gives way to mod guest rooms hidden well behind hammered copper doors. That rare sense of seclusion is heightened in the penthouse suites, which open up to private terraces blooming with aquatic gardens and spectacular skyline views.
That Zen feel is slightly rattled when downstairs' Le Phare nightclub is open, but its clever cocktails and playful live acts may prod hotel guests to join the party.
Easy access to restaurants and attractions upriver, as well as the French Quarter
Loft 523 New Orleans is located in the Central Business District (CBD) across the street from the freewheeling French Quarter. The area 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, but 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.
Chic and modern lofts with spacious, luxurious bathrooms
The 18 guest rooms are equally chic (though light sleepers should ask for one away from the downstairs nightclub), but vary in size: Lofts run about 600 square feet, while penthouses are about 850 square feet and open up to a private terrace with aquatic gardens and skyline views.
Overall, decor is similar throughout -- colorful artwork, upholstered bed frames, and textured accents (pecan wood, glass, suede) warm up guest rooms. The low-slung, sparse furniture and floor-to-ceiling windows amplify space, which may be the biggest luxury.
Of course, the bathrooms are extraordinarily luxurious in their own right: Limestone floors, walk-in showers, teak benches, and marbled, contemporary soaking tubs (in many rooms) add to the spa-like appeal. For the ultimate indulgence, staff will draw a warm milk bath, complete with an Archipelago kit of bath indulgences and a tray of Krispy Kreme donuts to enjoy while you soak.
High style and reasonable room rates offset the lack of on-site services
Loft 523 is the platinum standard of New Orleans’ boutique hotels, ushering in sleek, industrial decor (no fussy florals here) in spacious lofted rooms with large, luxurious baths. Because of its size (only 18 rooms), Loft 523 lacks some amenities -- guests will have to go around the corner to sister hotel International House for a restaurant or fitness room -- but room service is available through a popular nearby restaurant, and the property can often be a better overall bargain than a full-service luxury hotel. Partiers will appreciate that hip nightclub Le Phare is attached to the hotel, though room noise levels are louder during club hours.