The French Quarter
I was with my girlfriend over on Royal Street in the French Quarter at the diamond store. She’s from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, so when I sent her a message I would be visiting New Orleans and that I was looking for the best things to do in New Orleans and luxury or boutique hotels in New Orleans, she immediately went to work and came up with a fantastic list of things to do in New Orleans and places to stay. Here is what she recommended:
Things to Do in New Orleans
St James Cheese Company
Stop by the St. James Cheese Company for an afternoon charcuterie and wine. With everything from pecorino aged in walnut leaves to Bellame Blue and Blue Bay Cheese, they have hundreds of choices of delicious cheese for you.
Take the Canal Street Ferry
Take the free Canal Street Ferry from the River to Algiers and back to get a view of the city from afar. It is a beautiful way to see the city and we grabbed a drink and took it with us.
Tour and eat at the 180-year-old Antoine’s Restaurant. It has been here since 1840 and is the country’s oldest family-run restaurant! In fact, they have an 1840 Room, which is a replica of a fashionable private dining room. It is practically a museum of kitchen treasures including a cookbook published in Paris in 1659. We made a reservation, ate dinner here and it was awesome!
Head over to Three Muses on Frenchman Street for an afternoon of tapas, music, and a drink. They typically have a live music lineup playing in the afternoon. With a delicious selection of spirits and appetizers, how can you go wrong?
Attend A Cooking Demonstration
Cooking demonstration at Louisiana School of Cooking — we will need to sign up online $32-50 to $37.50/person and tomorrow’s demo is Gumbo, chicken creole, and pralines! (her: pretty fun)
Go Shopping on Royal Street
Walk around aimlessly on Royal Street looking at the art, antique, and antique jewelry shops. This was one of our favorite things to do! Can you believe I actually picked Shopping on Royal Street as one of my favorite New Orleans attractions? With all of these fantastic options? I know, I know… many of the choices were already on my list for the rest of the week and sometimes a travel photog girl just wants to walk around, shop, and take photos!
One block over from Bourbon Street is the French Quarter’s more refined and “less of a party” street than its’ famous sister, Rue Royal. What Bourbon Street lacks, Royal Street tries to make up. We found a mix of antique shops, boutique eclectic gift shops, old-school fine jewelry stores, art galleries, and even an old- fashioned hat shop!
Did you notice I said old-school fine jewelry stores? Because these girls were looking for diamonds! One of us, and I won’t mention who, was hoping someone would “put a ring on it” and we were in full swing to find the one we had seen in a magazine! And we found it! And she “said yes!”
Browse through the French Market
Go to the National WWII Museum
Another fun thing to do while in New Orleans is to go to the WWII museum. My friend absolutely loves going in and looking at this fascinating piece of history. The National WWII Museum features multimedia experiences, immersive exhibits, and a huge collection of artifacts for you to browse. They have first-person oral histories that take you inside the story of the war that changed the world.
Go shopping on Magazine Street
Over on Magazine Street, there are lots of boutique shops and it is a great place to shop for your home. This area of New Orleans is super neat and I do recommend a quick stop!
Take a visit to Oak Alley Plantation
One thing my friend definitely recommended if we had more time was to get out of the city of New Orleans and go to Oak Alley Plantation. This is about a 30-minute drive away, The place is stunningly gorgeous with its old oak trees and plantation house. Admission is $25/person with many different types of discounts offered.
Go to see the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
Go to the Audubon Aquarium, which is pretty neat, to meet the animals! It is located on the Mississippi River adjacent to the French Quarter, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is consistently voted as one of the top five in the country in the USA Today “10Best” reader polls.
You can be transported to an underwater world from the Caribbean to the Amazon Rainforest, to the Mississippi River, and the Gulf of Mexico! With more than 3,600 animals from more than 250 species, they have it all. Plus you can visit with African penguins and white alligators! This will be an experience you won’t soon forget!
Boutique Hotels New Orleans
Boutique Hotels in the French Quarter
Sometimes choosing a hotel is like shopping for a diamond, the process can be tedious and time-consuming. But you don’t have to worry, because I have done all the research on diamond quality hotels in the French Quarter for you! Trying out amazing boutique hotels in New Orleans is basically my job! Hotel Bourbon and Hotel Mazarin were high on my list, but did they stand up to what I was looking for?
New Orleans Hotel Collection
Lucky for me, a few of my stays were with the New Orleans Hotel Collection (they own both the Hotel Bourbon and Hotel Mazarin!). A few of the boutique hotels in New Orleans that I had a chance to stay in recently made the Conde Nast Traveler Magazine’s Top Ten List for New Orleans! With their posh and trendy textures inside and classic architecture on the outside, I was certainly in my element as I stayed in America’s proper European city.
With its deep history of the Spanish and the French, New Orleans Hotel Collection has the look and feel of a European luxury hotel with a prestigious history, yet has Southern hospitality from industry professionals that are second and third-generation New Orleanians with experience. The New Orleans Hotel Collection is the perfect fusion of European and Creole style and flawless for my visit New Orleans mindset!
And like a perfectly made cocktail in your hand, the New Orleans Hotel Collection hotels are a luxury experience that you won’t forget. I know I still reminisce about them!
Here are the four hotels (that’s right, four hotels as I get around!) that I stayed in during my visit New Orleans tour:
Hotel Bourbon – This amazing hotel is located directly behind the Saint Louis Cathedral between Rue Royal and Rue Bourbon. It was here I was able to experience the wrought-iron balconies of New Orleans, an experience I had always imagined! This is the perfect location with a gorgeous 19th-century lobby that once a ballroom connected to a theater.
Hotel Le Marais
Hotel Le Marais – An upscale boutique hotel in New Orleans. It is where the trendsetters, influencers and smart luxury travelers go to stay in the heart of it all. The location is great off of Conti and Royal Streets in the French Quarter. It is an upscale sanctuary with a gorgeous outdoor pool and courtyard. The rooms are filled with French-inspired furnishings, calming décor, and historical brickwork.
Hotel Mazarin – Known as the “Diamond of the French Quarter” (ha!), this hotel is also greatly situated in the French Quarter and has an authentic old-world charm with modern luxury. One night that I stayed there they had a gorgeous wedding in the courtyard, yet my room was practically soundproof from the event and felt like a sanctuary.
This hotel, by far, had the most luxurious rooms of the three hotels that I stayed in and is across the street from my favorite place to get chargrilled oysters with parmesan cheese, creole seasonings, and garlic butter: Desire Oyster Bar on Bourbon Street!
The New Orleans Hotel Collection hotels offer fast and free internet, in-room bottled water, and points in the Stash Hotel Rewards!! They are a group of seven fine hotels in New Orleans that includes the Bourbon Orleans, Dauphine Orleans, Hotel Mazarin, Audubon Cottages, Crowne Plaza New Orleans Airport, Hotel Le Marais, and the Whitney Hotel.
But remember, I said I stayed in four hotels while in NOLA. This last hotel is not a member of the Hotel Collection of New Orleans. But I loved it anyway!
Maison Dupuy Hotel
Maison Dupuy Hotel – With its lush, outdoor heated pool and serene courtyard, this hotel was the furthest out from the main areas of Royal and Bourbon Street. It did have a unique aspect about it in that it had inside “balconies” facing this pool sanctuary courtyard, for nice people watching and after-dinner drink relaxing. It could, however, use some updating in the rooms themselves.
So, there you have it, four grand choices for diamonds (hotels) in the French Quarter, it doesn’t get much better than that!