For many travelers, brand loyalty is better than counting sheep. For them, nothing guarantees a good night’s rest more than knowing exactly what to expect from a named hotel, from VIP service to loyalty rewards programs to the kind of consistency in hospitality that sets global standards.
In 2021, not only one but three tested hotel brands debuted in New Orleans, great news in a market already rife with terrific accommodations. There’s nothing anonymous or big box about any of these properties – each are leaning into their new city and letting New Orleans have its way with them.
Four Seasons New Orleans
The gorgeous centerpiece of the Chandelier Bar — Photo courtesy of Beth D'Addono
The wows kick in as soon as you walk through the doors at the Four Seasons New Orleans, the famed luxury hotel that opened at the foot of Canal Street facing the Mississippi River.
That’s because the first views are of a bar – fittingly in the city that claims to have invented the cocktail. The Chandelier Bar is across from the front desk, with its massive overhead light as art piece, dripping 15,000 twinkling Bohemian crystals above the u-shaped marble-topped bar bracketed by louvered wooden “shutters” that evoke one of the city’s most iconic architectural elements.
Featuring a cocktail program from Hadi Ktiri, formerly of Arnaud’s and Couvant, this gorgeous space in the 340-story World Trade Center tower has been transformed into a hospitality bonbon outfitted with 341 rooms, 92 swank residences, a spa and curvy fifth floor rooftop pool, acres of event space and two locally flavored restaurants, Miss River from Alon Shaya and Chemin à la Mer from Donald Link. A ground-level event garden has weddings written all over it, same for the wraparound terraces with river views and the top-floor observation deck that casts a spell over the whole city.
GM Mali Carow is passionate about the many connections that tie the new Four Seasons to its city, from music to local art to local culinary talent and influences. She moved with her husband Memo and their son Sam to the Bywater when she took on this project in late 2019. “We want our guests to know when they walk in that they’re in nowhere else but New Orleans," she said.
- Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans
Kimpton Hotel Fontenot
The Peacock Lounge — Photo courtesy of Cris Molina
It’s not every hotel that has two grand openings. But after just a few weeks of operation, and on the eve of the opening of its two restaurants, on March 15, 2020, the city closed the brand-new Kimpton Hotel Fontenot. A year and two months later, the hotel reopened on May 11, 2021 in a gorgeous corner building in the Warehouse District. The name gives the hotel a sense of place, paying homage to Louisiana-born Canray Fontenot, an iconic Creole fiddle player.
The vibe is clean and modern throughout, with whimsical art and a mix of wood, velvet and rattan furnishings that invite a sit-down. The 202 guest rooms, accented in fetching shades of blue and pink, offer city views, spacious bathrooms – many with soaking tubs – and in-room amenities like yoga mats, Frette linens and bathrobes.
Local chef Chris Lusk is behind the dynamite dining options at the Peacock Room and Gospel Coffee and Boozy Treats café and bar. The Texas native has earned his Louisiana cooking stripes working with the Brennan family at Commander’s Palace, at the Caribbean Room in the Pontchartrain Hotel and Restaurant R’evolution in the Royal Sonesta.
Bar Supervisor Jordan Deis is behind the creative bar offerings, which include boozy milkshakes and frozen drinks at Gospel and, in Peacock, everything from the classics to hard-to-find spirits, with an impressive collection of rum and madeira, putting the emphasis on drinks that are light and floral. The Peacock room is drop-dead gorgeous, with gilded cages, feathered birds and retro wallpaper creating an opulent jewel menagerie of prints and patterns.
- Kimpton Hotel Fontenot
Virgin Hotels New Orleans
The Funny Library coffee shop — Photo courtesy of Virgin Hotels New Orleans
It’s been a minute since Sir Richard Branson was in town for the groundbreaking of the new Virgin Hotel New Orleans. Located in the city’s Warehouse District at 550 Baronne Street, the property mixes a passion for food and beverage with music and culture that sets it squarely in the crosshairs of its host city. The local design firm, Logan Killen Interiors, assured that a Big Easy vibe prevails.
Within an easy stroll of the French Quarter, the 238-room hotel, which also boasts three suites, marks the fifth Virgin in the U.S., after Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas and Nashville. Across locations, the property’s named public spaces and restaurants are in common, with the Commons Club, the brand's flagship restaurant, bar and lounge, as well as the Funny Library coffee shop. There’s also a pool, bar and lounge. The spacious rooms are fresh and bright with local art, historical detailing and Art Deco-inspired elements.
Award-winning executive chef Alex Harrell is putting his creative contemporary spin on the restaurant’s Southern seasonal cuisine with Mediterranean influences. Harrell’s earned raves for his cuisine for more than two decades, at his own place, Angeline in the Quarter, and more recently at the Elysian Bar in the Hotel Peter and Paul.
Guests enjoy live music at The Bar at Commons Club, along with a robust cocktail program. In typical Virgin high style, the Shag Room is a lounge popping with color and local art. Expect wow throughout, because that’s just how Virgin Hotels roll.
- Virgin Hotels New Orleans