Travelers looking to have a good time would do well to put New Orleans on their list of places to visit in the USA. And if you are in town during Mardi Gras, you will understand the hype. There is never a dull moment in New Orleans that seems to be in a constant party mode. However, this 300-year-old city is not just about having fun. You will be amazed to discover some of its history hidden within the walls of historic hotels in the French Quarter. In fact, the oldest hotel in New Orleans French Quarter has guests of bygone eras occasionally showing up!
Many historic hotels in New Orleans have been around for over a century. They still stand out for their elegance and amenities. Some of the oldest hotels in the New Orleans French Quarter are among the best hotels in New Orleans with a pool. If you are in town for business or here to check out the top things to do in New Orleans, you can choose to stay in the oldest hotel in New Orleans. Who knows, you may bump into a ‘friendly ghost!’
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Lamothe House Hotel
The Lamothe House Hotel is one of many historic hotels in the French Quarter. Located on the fringes of the French Quarter, this historic hotel in New Orleans has been around since the beginning of the 19th century. However, it wasn’t always a hotel. Originally built as a townhouse for a wealthy merchant in 1839, the building was later converted into a charming hotel.
Much of the building’s original elements have been retained, making it feel like you’re stepping back in time. The striking Corinthian columns, added two decades after the building went up, are an architectural delight. It is not just the outside that retains the old-world charm, but the inside too. Grand hallways, chandeliers, oil paintings, and antique furniture add to the historical aesthetic. The suites at the back of the property are former carriages converted into rooms and suites. Lamothe house comes close if you’re looking for the oldest New Orleans French Quarter hotel.
Pontchartrain Hotel St. Charles Avenue
Standing tall on St. Charles Avenue since 1927, the Pontchartrain Hotel is another excellent historic hotel in New Orleans. Initially built as a luxury apartment building, the Pontchartrain quickly transformed to emerge as a preferred choice for visitors. By the 1940s, the hotel became a veritable choice for the who’s who in the city. Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth, James Beard, and George H. Bush were just some of the well-heeled guests.
In 1948 the Caribbean Room, the hotel’s restaurant, opened. The classical French approach to menu and service wasn’t well-received, so another change occurred. Within no time, the Pontchartrain became a hotel with a difference. Locals began to feel a kinship to the hotel, which echoed local traditional culture.
In the 1980s, the hotel’s ownership changed after being in the same family for over sixty years. It subsequently closed for renovations and reopened in August 2013. The historic Bayou Bar reopened in 2014. The Pontchartrain underwent another major renovation in 2016 to regain its lost glory. The 106-room hotel now features luxury suites, elegant rooms, and a panoramic rooftop.
Bourbon Orleans Hotel
Another historic hotel in New Orleans that perfectly blends history with modernity is the Bourbon Orleans Hotel. Its ornate architecture, historic facade, and grand lobby are fascinating. This may not be the oldest hotel in New Orleans French Quarter, but it does have a fascinating past. And yes, some ghosts of its past still walk the halls.
The original building housed the Orleans Theater, completely wrecked by fire in 1816. In 1817, the theater was rebuilt, and the Orleans Ballroom was added to it. Another fire in 1866 destroyed the theater, but the Ballroom survived. In 1881 the Sisters of the Holy Family acquired the property and transformed it into a school, convent, and orphanage.
However, when the number of nuns increased, the property was sold to Bourbon Kings Hotel Corporation in 1964. A $7 million restoration added gorgeous rooms and suites to transform the convent into one of the best hotels in the area. The old, grand ballroom is still one of the best in the city. Apart from the elegant interiors, the hotel also boasts one of the best hotel pools in New Orleans. But that’s not the only feature that brings guests here. Labeled as one of the spookiest hotels in the U.S., many come here for a paranormal experience!
Melrose Mansion Suites
Housed in a sturdy and elegant Second Empire Victorian mansion, Melrose Mansion Suites stands among the oldest hotel in New Orleans. As with most of the historic hotels in the city, the building was a former residence. Designed as a single-family home, the building was completed in 1885. It was then owned by a prosperous commissions merchant whose family lived there for several years before it passed to new owners.
During the first world war, New Orleans’ red light district was hit by the ban on prostitution within ten miles of any military base. Many houses along Esplanade Avenue, where Melrose Mansion sits, began to operate as low-key bordellos. In the late 1950s, the mansion changed ownership again and was sectioned off into apartments for dancers. It continued to run as apartments leased to locals till the 1980s.
The hotel finally transformed into a luxurious, award-winning Victorian-themed hotel in 1991. Another makeover a decade later resulted in beautifully remodeled guest rooms with fully renovated bathrooms. Today, Melrose Mansion offers an elegant, comfortable stay to those who enjoy the old-world charm.
Sitting majestically at the foot of Royal Street since 1886, Hotel Monteleone is a classy step back in time. The hotel is one of the last excellent family-owned and operated hotels in New Orleans. It is also one of the more renowned historic hotels in the French Quarter.
Built in the Beaux-Arts architectural style, the hotel also includes the only high-rise building in the interior French Quarter. Since its opening in 1886, the Monteleone has undergone five major expansions. In 1903, thirty rooms were added, followed by another 300 rooms in 1908. That same year the hotel took on the name of Monteleone after its founder.
The hotel is also one of the few family-owned hotels to survive the Great Depression. In 1954 the original building was demolished, and a new building came up in its place. The new building included ballrooms, dining rooms, and cocktail lounges. Boasting over 500 rooms, the Monteleone is a historic hotel in New Orleans that still stands tall. With its famous revolving bar, the only one in the city, and other special features, the hotel will be around for a long time to come.
The Roosevelt Hotel
Opened as “The Hotel Grunewald” in 1893, The Roosevelt New Orleans has also seen many important people walk through its doors. This Waldorf Astoria Hotel is another iconic historic hotel in New Orleans that stands out amongst the best business hotels in New Orleans. Its gorgeous lobby and world-class amenities bring in a loyal clientele.
Soon after the hotel’s opening, another renowned hotel in the city, the St. Charles Hotel, was destroyed by fire. This proved to be a boon of sorts for the new hotel that opened ready for New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, one of the popular annual world festivals. Over the years, the hotel underwent many expansions and facelifts. In 1923 its new owners changed the name to the Roosevelt Hotel in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt.
However, the name changed again in 1965 under new ownership. The Fairmont New Orleans was badly damaged during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and closed indefinitely. Eventually, in 2007 it became part of the Hilton group and rechristened The Roosevelt to open again in 2009.
Bienville House Hotel
Named in honor of the founder of New Orleans, the Bienville House Hotel traces its roots to 1835. Although the building is pretty old, it is not the oldest hotel in New Orleans French Quarter as it did not open as a hotel. It began as Planters Rice Mill, which later became a syrup factory.
Since its inception, the hotel has donned several hats as a firehouse, a boutique hostelry, and even a boarding house named Royal Bienville. In the 1960s, it became a ‘motor hotel,’ but a nearby warehouse fire almost destroyed the building in the early 1970s. The Monteleone family bought the property in 1972 and converted it into the Bienville House Hotel.
Classic wrought-iron balconies and a lush courtyard make the hotel feel like a stately home. Hand-painted murals and over-stuffed furnishings add to the overall ambiance. The 80-room hotel offers a luxurious retreat in the historic French Quarter.
NOPSI Hotel New Orleans
NOPSI Hotel may be one of the newest hotels in New Orleans, but that does not make it any less historic. The iconic property constructed during the Roaring Twenties was the former headquarters of the New Orleans Public Service Inc, hence the name. It opened its doors to the public in 1927 and continued its run until 1983 when it relocated to a new site.
In 2011, the building became a historic architectural and design landmark. Although the building is in New Orleans, it is a brilliant example of Chicago Commercial-style architecture. However, it was only in 2017 that the building on 317 Baronne Street became a hotel. Terrazzo floors, original stone top counters in the lobby, and the 24-foot high crane and tracks in the ballroom are reminiscent of a bygone era.
That being said, the luxury hotel also boasts spacious suites, one of the best rooftop pools in New Orleans, and a bar. The restored lobby is undoubtedly a standout with its dramatic 21-foot high vaulted ceiling, graceful arches, and ornamental columns.
Hilton New Orleans St. Charles Avenue
A luxurious historic hotel in New Orleans is the Hilton New Orleans on St. Charles Avenue. Unlike the oldest hotel in New Orleans French Quarter, the Hilton had a distinctive past as a masonic temple. The first masonic temple of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons opened at the present site.
A few years later, the property felt too small for the growing numbers of Freemasons who decided to relocate. However, the desire to build a new Masonic temple was gaining momentum, and local architect James Freret was hired. When construction finished in 1892, the new building with outstanding features immediately became a landmark. Ferret’s design, however, was difficult to maintain, and calls for a new masonic temple began to mount.
After World War I, the temple was reconstructed entirely from the ground up. It took several years to complete, and the grand “Masonic Lodge” finally opened in 1927. The new 18-story skyscraper had many exciting features: a Grand Chapel, a 1000-person theater, and three elegant ballrooms. For the next few decades, the Freemasons occupied it, but in 1992 they sold it to several enterprising hoteliers.
Hotel Monaco, an upscale boutique hotel, successfully ran for several years until Hurricane Katrina devastated the region. Over two years, a comprehensive renovation of the property restored its former glory. It reopened as the Hilton New-St. Charles Avenue and is now one of the best hotels in New Orleans.
Le Pavillon Hotel
With an extensive history that goes back to the twilight of the Gilded Age, the Le Pavillon Hotel could pass off as the oldest hotel New Orleans. Located in the Lower Central Business District, the property was bought in 1899 with the intent of starting an upscale boutique hotel. However, it took over five years for construction to begin and another two years to complete.
In 1907, a change of ownership resulted in the hotel renaming to New Hotel Denechuad. The fine Renaissance-inspired architecture attracted many guests, and the hotel soon became a gathering spot for the elite. Before the First World War, the hotel was passed to new owners who renamed it the “DeSoto.”
Even with its new tag, the hotel was still one of the most successful in the area. It sailed through the Great Depression and World War II. During Prohibition, the hotel’s underground tunnel allowed customers to escape law enforcement. In the 1970s, a change in ownership resulted in a complete transformation of the hotel.
The Le Pavillon Hotel reopened as an outstanding showpiece with massive columns and oversized sculptures. Most of the hotel’s decor was from Europe, including eleven crystal chandeliers from Czechoslovakia. Today, guests come to this historic hotel in New Orleans for its European-inspired ambiance.
Omni Royal Orleans
Formerly known as The City Exchange and then the St. Louis Hotel, the Omni Royal Orleans has been around since the early 19th century. The City Exchange, a slave auction site, closed in the 1830s. Aspiring hotelier James Hewlett then used the location to build a grand hotel. He hoped the hotel would encourage people from all backgrounds to come here and relax.
The project, however, suffered a long delay due to a massive fire that compromised the layout of the building. They restarted from scratch, and the St. Louis Hotel finally opened in 1843. It was one of the most gorgeous buildings in downtown New Orleans when it opened. It became one of the city’s most exclusive retreats and hosted some of the grandest Mardi Gras ceremonies inside its ballrooms. The outbreak of the American Civil War saw the hotel being used as a military hospital in early 1862. Local politicians tried to reopen the hotel a while later to no avail.
The hotel eventually closed in 1912. It suffered considerable damage in a hurricane three years later and remained closed for several years until reopening in 1960. Once again, the hotel rose to fame, attracting many celebrities and politicians. In 1986 the hotel passed to Omni Hotels and Resorts and took on its current name. Looking at the hotel’s splendor, one can hardly believe it is probably the oldest hotel in New Orleans French Quarter.