New Orleans, or NOLA, is hometown to the vibrant Mardi Gras, epicurean gastronomy, and jazz. For more than three centuries, the city has been a mecca for everything dynamic and decadent. Louisiana might be culturally conservative, but NOLA bucks that trend, boasting of a lively gay social scene. The city has always been tolerating and accepting and is one of the oldest gay-friendly cities in the Western hemisphere. In fact, it even calls itself the ‘Gay Capital of the South’. While most hotels are gay-friendly, there are some gay hotels in New Orleans that specifically target the LGBTQ market. Right from historic B&Bs to glitzy, luxurious hotels, NOLA has no dearth of LGBTQ accommodation options.
New Orleans has historically been a city where the LGBTQ set has always found acceptance. Notable gay local Tennessee Williams even called the city his ‘spiritual home’. Apart from Gay Civil Rights battles, the city broke ground by being one of the first cities in the country to protect gender identity from discrimination.
Neighborhoods such as the Marigny and the French Quarter are central to the LGBT life and travel circuit in New Orleans. With the city being so integrated, there are few places apart from the above that feel exclusively gay. That being said, the queer vibe is strongest across the city during gay festivals like Gay Easter Parade and Southern Decadence, one of the biggest LGBTQ events in the South.
Before you begin your exploration of NOLA, we’d recommend this fantastic 2-hour walking tour of its many historic and iconic neighborhoods. It’s the best way to understand and experience New Orleans’ unique culture and history.
The Bourbon Orleans
There’s no better way to explore NOLA’s gay life and the historic French Quarter than by staying at The Bourbon. It is surrounded by some of the best gay bars in New Orleans. In fact, Napolean’s Itch and Oz are right next door. What’s more, it is also a short stroll from some of the best attractions in New Orleans, including Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, and Audubon Aquarium of the Americas.
Formerly a grand ballroom and then a convent, the building retains its former glamour and timeless charm. This is palpable in the chandeliers, marble pillars, and floral fabrics that dot the hotel, along with the pianist in the lobby. Modern rooms are peppered with bold green and red accents, French-antique style furniture, and pillow-top mattresses. iHome docks and ergonomic desk chairs are modern additions, complete with marble bathrooms. Some rooms even have traditional wrought-iron balconies.
There’s a helpful bunch of amenities on check-in, including a neighborhood map and free drink tickets for the bar. The hotel’s old school charm is perhaps the most evident at the surprisingly tranquil poolside courtyard, which is one of the most beautiful in the city. Moreover, the hotel bar Bourbon “O” is headed by one of the best bartenders in the city.
Bon Maison Guesthouse
Housed in an 1833-built historic townhouse in the French Quarter, the gay-friendly Bon Maison Guesthouse is gay-owned as well. A gorgeous plant-filled brick courtyard is the highlight at Bon Maison, making you feel like you’re right at home. In fact, guests tend to forget that NOLA’s wild side is literally right outside, with Cafe Lafitte in Exile just next door. Even Jackson Square and its cornucopia of attractions are just two streets away.
Rooms are Bohemian with quirky combinations of contemporary bedspreads and wall prints and antique furniture. Also, the presence of small, full kitchenettes makes it easy to whip up quick and cheap meals too. However, its the central enclosed courtyard that is one of the best features of Bon Maison. Wrought-iron furniture, a charming fountain, and verdant plants flush against the red brick make for a secret romantic world within the French Quarter. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine with your significant other or maybe even strike up a romance with interesting fellow guests.
Staying at the Bon Maison is the perfect way to explore the wonderful bylanes of the historic French Quarter. We’d recommend joining this fun 2-hour story-filled walking tour of the French Quarter. Hear stories of the culture and history of the oldest neighborhood of New Orleans.
Gay travelers looking to stay somewhere unique in New Orleans need look no further than the eclectic Catahoula. More of a social hub that a boutique hotel, the gay-friendly Catahoula pulsates with a vibe found nowhere else. Housed in a 19th-century Creole townhouse in the heart of downtown, Catahoula boasts of an updated vintage vibe. Wooden beams, brickwork, black-and-white tiled floors, polished wooden staircases, and contemporary art add to its historic character. Its size lends the quaint hotel coziness and the lobby, with its sofas and throws rugs, is reminiscent of a trendy cafe.
Rooms at the Catahoula are simple and thoughtfully designed. Exposed brick walls complement the contemporary Louisiana Cypress fixtures. While space is a bit restricted, the design certainly looks to maximize the footprint. Furthermore, room sizes vary and some even have gorgeous balconies. The Catahoula’s common spaces are perhaps its best feature. Their quaint, tropical rooftop hangout is a favorite among gay locals. The black-and-white tiled bar serves the most inventive cocktails. Even the cutesy coffee shop downstairs is perfect to grab a bite before heading out to explore NOLA.
Catahoula lies in the bustling Central Business District just three blocks south of the French Quarter, the gay area in New Orleans. Some of the best cultural attractions in the city are all walkable. What’s more, the hotel even hosts a special Prince-themed Pre-Pride party a day before Pride weekend.
Younger LGBTQ millennials will find the gay-owned Ace Hotel one of the grooviest gay hotels in New Orleans. Located in the up-and-coming, hip Warehouse District, the fashionable hotel is a blend of authentic NOLA elements and familiar staples of the Ace brand.
Tropical foliage, distressed fabrics, and funky contemporary and retro themes rule the roost at Ace Hotel. The hotel does fabulously well on the socials. The plush rooftop pool area was one of the neighborhood’s first. Even today, it is an extremely popular spot for young and beautiful locals and guests. The hip coffee purveyor Stumptown Coffee has a spot in the hotel and serves up the best brew in town. Ace also has its own busy concert space, 3 keys, which is also a great place to get work done during the day. There’s also a gym and two boutiques off of the lobby.
Rooms are Bohemian in persona. The color palate swings between vibrant murals, greens, blacks, and charcoals. Comfy robes and quilts and wooden, homey furniture complete the picture-perfect look. Also, larger rooms have Martin guitars or turntables along with a curated record selection.
Ace Hotel’s location is fantastic for exploring NOLA by the day and the dazzling gay nightlife later. The French Quarter and cultural attractions are both a mere 20-minute walk.
Auberge NOLA Hostel
If you’re a party monster looking to live it up in New Orleans, then the gay-friendly Auberge should be your destination. The award-winning hostel is super social and is more like a house than a hostel. Located in a historic antebellum Louisiana-style house, Auberge has three social spaces. Whether you want to read, play instruments and computer games, or get social and strike conversations with new people, Auberge has a nook for everything.
The hostel has free social events every night, including nighttime tours of the city. A hearty, complimentary breakfast is a great way to get things started in the morning. There’s also an outdoor courtyard with a barbeque perfect for socializing and mingling with fellow guests. It’s also great for random meet-cutes. Guests can choose between dorms and private rooms, depending on how much they want to get involved in social life.
A 20-minute streetcar ride from Auberge brings you to Central Business District and the French Quarter. What’s more, the lovely Garden District is a mere 12-minute streetcar ride in the other direction.
If you’re visiting New Orleans for one of the world’s best carnivals Mardi Gras, consider staying at the quaint gay-friendly Quisby. With most major parades passing directly in front of the hostel, the Quisby is the perfect and affordable front-view seat to all the action.
The warm, industrial lobby, original green columns, and artwork throughout stay true to the building’s historic past as a notorious artists’ hangout. The lounge-cum-work area with an artsy chalkboard is a fun space to meet fellow travelers, read, or work. The inviting and hip bar serves craft inventions, shots and beer specials, and coffee. Furthermore, the staff even host game nights, movie nights, and even tarot card reading. Dorms and private rooms at the Quisby are bright and spacious, and with the sun streaming in through the windows.
Gay travelers looking to dive into the fabulous nightlife only have to endure a 13-minute streetcar ride to get to the gay neighborhood of New Orleans. With no curfew at the Quisby, you can party till the wee hours before stumbling back for some much-needed sleep.
The Troubadour is one of the newest and edgiest gay hotels in New Orleans. Housed in an unassuming 1960s office building, the hotel oozes striking levels of pizzazz when one steps in.
Guests are greeted by sleek retro geometrics and abstract patterns blend with golds, whites, and oranges. The hotel is full of shiny, reflective surfaces, lending the interiors an almost hypnotic effect. However, its the lounge of the second floor where all the best action is. It boasts of a bar, coffee tables, velvety couches, and games and books. Nights are dedicated to local live music and jazz. Leisure facilities include a modern fitness room and a rooftop bar/lounge which is perfect for grabbing a sundowner. Complimentary coffee in the lobby every morning is a hit with guests.
Rooms at the Troubador are perhaps some of the most offbeat ones in the city. Most rooms have living areas, local books, well-curated art, a minibar chock-full of local delights, and even a small cocktail-making corner. Some rooms feature gorgeous floor-to-ceiling windows. Rooms are done up mostly in greys and dark blues and also feature kitschy light fittings and plush fabrics.
With the French Quarter and NOLA’s cultural attractions a 10-minute walk away, the Troubadour makes for a great central location to stay in the city.
Hotel Le Marais
Nightlife lovers and younger gay guests will love the central, downtown location and the colorful design touches of Le Marais. The gay-friendly hotel lies smack dab in the heart of the French Quarter. Steamy gay establishments like Bourbon Pub and Rawhide are just two streets down. Those interested in hot male dancers will much appreciate the Corner Pocket in the next street. So, guests have access to everything from fine dining and neon cocktails to a dazzling nightlife as well as tranquillity after.
Le Marais sees bursts of visually pleasing purple looming throughout the building, a la hipster style. The hotel has some extremely pleasing freebies. Sip on cocktails at the laidback bar Vive, which has daily happy hours. Workout buffs with find the fitness center well-equipped. The best of the lot, however, is the back patio, which is a welcome retreat from the clamor of the world outside. It even has a heated saltwater pool which is perfect for relaxing and people-watching.
Rooms at Le Marais are sexy to the hilt with purple accents and black-and-white wall art featuring rural Louisiana. There are a couple of pleasing extras like coffee and bottled water. Mini-balconies overlook the lively street or the hotel courtyard. What’s more, there’s a hearty complimentary breakfast which is a great addition considering the hotel doesn’t have a restaurant.
Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery
Gays who like their accommodations to have a bit of character will love the Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery in the Warehouse District. The old-world gay-friendly hotel lies in a converted 19th-century warehouse, complete with original modern art. The striking interiors feature exposed brickwork contrasting beautifully with refined dark wood and artfully-rigged light fittings. The lobby retains some of the best features of the former warehouse, including natural light and high ceilings. There’s a lovely coffee bar and right next to it, there are also modern sitting and work areas. There’s even a small gym. Finally, there’s a unique lobby store selling boutique, local-vendor wares, lending the hotel its name.
Rooms see cheeky modern art balancing the ubiquitous exposed brickwork, lots of space, and natural sunlight. Certain rooms at this hotel don’t feature windows and are advertised as ‘Sleep till late’ rooms, so make sure what you are looking for. If you’re an art connoisseur, book one of the three Artists Lofts, which are akin to mini-galleries dedicated to individual local artists.
This downtown gem of a hotel is a block from Lafayette Square. The French Quarter and the best gay bars in New Orleans are a 20-minute walk. What’s more, the city’s best cultural attractions are within walking distance of Old No. 77 Hotel too.
Windsor Court Hotel
Indulgence and opulence in New Orleans don’t get any better than at the five-star Windsor Court Hotel. The gay-friendly hotel is a pleasant slice of British finesse in the decadence capital of the Deep South. The hotel is replete with ornate decor, right from artwork and furniture to British 17th-19th-century paintings. Public spaces are plush and luxurious, to say the least, what with the resplendent fabrics and leather chairs. Overall, the hotel combines old-world formality with lovely Southern charm.
Most rooms at the Windsor Court are suites, so larger groups and families will love the hotel. There is ample sitting area and blackout curtains perfect for catching some shut-eye after a day and night of exploring and partying. Some suites even have private balconies.
If your room has access to the lounge, then do check it out for the $10 million classic art collection. Guests will love rounding out their luxury stay at the inviting spa with a steam room and sauna. However, the star of the show is the heated, saltwater rooftop pool. Apart from striking views of the city, the expansive sun deck is perfect for lounging and people-watching.
The LGBTQ set will love the fact that the Windsor even puts out an LGBTea during the Southern Decadence weekend.
The Jung Hotel and Residences
A true NOLA institution, the Jung Hotel is one of the best gay hotels in New Orleans. The hotel boasts of excellent transport connections. The streetcar passes right outside, making most of New Orleans accessible. What’s more, the French Quarter is easily walkable.
The hotel boasts of imposing interiors with chandeliers, grey furniture, and a regally shining lobby. The vintage-looking lifts and the gorgeous marble staircase are remnants of the hotel’s historic past. So take a laidback day to enjoy the pool deck with a covered bar area and expansive lounging area. Rooms feature contemporary hues of yellows, whites, and greys. Polish wood patterns, modern drawers and wardrobes, and clever design touches lend the room a chic look. What’s more, there are a whole ton of amenities still being rolled out.
Just So You Know:
- The ‘gayborhood’ French Quarter is the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans and is even a National Historic Landmark.
- Tennessee Williams polished “A Streetcar Named Desire” in an apartment at St. Peter Street.
Get Some Culture in New Orleans:
- New Orleans Pride: The first NOLA Pride took place in February 1971 in the form of a ‘Gay in’ picnic. It was Louisiana state’s very first event of its kind. The week-long celebrations are the largest in the state and one of the fastest-growing Pride celebrations in the US. It includes everything from Pride balls to dance parties and pub crawls.
- New Orleans Gay Heritage and Drinks Tour: This guided, 2-hour walking tour of New Orleans celebrates the city’s gay heritage. It takes you on a tour of the important LGBTQ spots in the city.
Best Gay Bars / Clubs in New Orleans:
- Phoenix/Eagle: A gay nightclub with the vibe of a sex club. Its a fun, super-dark place, making for exciting possibilities.
- Bourbon Pub and Parade: This 24/7 bar has been a favorite since 1974 and is the largest gay club in New Orleans.
- The Double Play: This 24/7 place is one fo the more colorful gay bars in NOLA. It’s great for fun drag shows and people-watching.
- Rawhide 2010: This small, dark, leather cruising bar is open till the wee hours of the morning.
- Cafe Lafitte in Exile: This is said to be the oldest continuously operating gay bar in the US. It is said to have been the haunt of many famous gay NOLA natives like Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams.
- Oz New Orleans: This two-story, glittery gay dance club sees some next-level male burlesque and pole performers.
- Napoleon’s Itch: The health-conscious gay bar is famous with the queer folk for its fresh cocktails and sparkling space.
- Grrlspot: A pop-up lesbian bar attracting a diverse crowd. Cis guys must be accompanied by a trans person or a woman.
Best Gay Saunas in New Orleans:
The gay sauna scene in NOLA is a bit of a dampener. However, with a slew of cruising clubs and hotels with pool spaces, there’s are tons of steamy opportunities for the LGBTQ set.