Historic, grande dame property one block from Bourbon Street
Home to legendary Carousel Bar
Quaint, traditional rooms with Keurig machines and iPod docks
Some rooms have jetted tubs or separate living spaces
All-day Criollo restaurant serving Louisiana fare, plus a bar
Pleasant rooftop pool lined with loungers
Full-service spa offering massage and nail treatments
Windowed gym with city vistas and good range of equipment
Free property-wide Wi-Fi
On-site parking, business center, and extensive meeting space
Noise complaints, particularly for street-facing rooms
Old-fashioned decor won't suit all tastes
Some rooms and most bathrooms are small
No in-room balconies
Carousel Bar and lobby are often crowded and busy
The 600-room, four-pearl Hotel Monteleone is a historic, grande dame property that has played home to several literary icons. Today it's known for the famous, rotating Carousel Bar, and its central French Quarter location on gallery-filled Royal Street, just one block from buzzing Bourbon Street. Traditionally elegant rooms may be too old-fashioned (and small) for some, but others find it fits in with the property's overall charm. Keurig coffeemakers, free Wi-Fi, and mini-fridges are provided, but rooms lack balconies and many suffer from street noise. A rooftop pool provides respite from the lively city, as do a full-service spa, all-day restaurant serving regional cuisine, and gym with a good array of equipment and city vistas. Extensive meeting space attracts corporate groups, but most guests are couples on vacation. Travelers wanting a more modern stay should consider the Royal Sonesta.
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 been run by the Monteleone family ever since, adding rooms and facilities as the years went by. So many writers have lived in the Monteleone -- Truman Capote, William Faulkner and Anne Rice, for starts -- that the property is registered as a national literary landmark. Today, 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 property, and drawing tourists of all types to its famous Carousel Bar that slowly spins. The bar is busy all day, and the lobby is often buzzing with leisure travelers and conference-goers, the latter of which make use of the extensive meeting facilities, but the rooftop pool provides a calm respite. An old-fashioned charm permeates the entire property, from the lobby's intricate ceilings and crown molding, crystal chandeliers, and grandfather clock, to the traditional rooms and striking carved exterior. The traditional look isn't for everyone, so those seeking something more modern may prefer Royal Sonesta or the Hyatt Centric.
In the French Quarter, one block from Bourbon Street
The Hotel Monteleone is located on chic Royal Street in the French Quarter, filled with boutique shops and art galleries, and only a few blocks from the Mississippi River and its riverboats. Buzzing Bourbon Street is just one block away, and the surrounding streets are packed with bars and excellent restaurants.
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. The area 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.
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. 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. 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.
20-minute taxi or shuttle ride from Louis Armstrong International Airport
Three-minute walk to Canal Street, where travelers can pick up streetcars to St. Charles Avenue or the New Orleans Museum of Art
Five-minute walk to the Mississippi River
Seven-minute walk to Preservation Hall
10-minute walk to Jackson Square and Café du Monde
10-minute walk to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum
Five-minute drive to the National World War II Museum
Homey historic decor, but no balconies and standard rooms are on the small side
Old-fashioned room decor -- think floral bed skirts and drapes, pale-yellow or mauve striped wallpaper, traditional wood furniture, gold moldings on the mirrors, and hanging light fixtures with faux candles -- is homey and charming, but may not suit all tastes. 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. Unfortunately, be aware that no rooms have balconies and street noise is a common complaint from past guests. Also on the downside, lower-category Traditional Rooms are on the small side, as are many bathrooms across the board.
Rooms underwent renovations in 2010, bringing in new bedding and comforters, and updating guest bathrooms, now outfitted with marble floors and granite countertops. Standard amenities include desks, armchairs, Keurig machines, flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, mini-fridges with free bottled water, and electronic safes. Bathrooms generally have shower/tub combos, hairdryers, and Gilchrist & Soames toiletries
There are a variety of suites, but the most common is the Vieux Carré Suite, which is 500 square feet and has a hot tub, walk-in shower, extra half bathroom, and separate living area. The 1,400-square-foot, two-bedroom F. J. Monteleone Suite has glass showers, a whirlpool tub, a separate living room with a sofa bed, a big plasma TV, a humidor, and a wet bar with gold-plated sink. There’s also a small office.
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 and nail treatments, a lemongrass body exfoliation, and massage, plus a selection of bath and beauty products for sale. Another lovely area is the rooftop heated pool, lined with loungers and with offering city views. Poolside bar, Acqua Bella, is open daily through lunch and dinner for drinks and food. On the same level is a small windowed fitness center with a good range of equipment and pretty panoramic vistas.
An unstaffed business center is open 24/7, outfitted with a couple of computers and a printer. There are numerous meeting and event spaces, making it a popular spot for conferences and weddings. For pet owners: mats, water and food bowls, bags of treats, and maps of pet-friendly places in the city are all available. A small gift shop is also on-site.
Wi-Fi is free, while parking is available for a pricey per-day rate.
The standout at Hotel Monteleone is the famous, circus-themed Carousel Bar that was installed in 1949. It has 25 seats and revolves, and is packed nearly from the time it opens until it closes -- expect a boisterous atmosphere. In addition to cocktails, food service is available in the afternoons, offering Cajun bar fare like boudin balls, as well as chicken tenders and wings. Off of here is another bar and lounge area with jazz performances nearly every day.
Criollo Restaurant and Lounge opened in mid-2012 with a varied European menu. Entrees highlight French, Spanish, and Caribbean ingredients, with an added Creole twist. (Criollo is Spanish for "Creole.") It's open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but it closes for various amounts of time between meals. Room service can be ordered 24/7.