First time in New Orleans. Traveling with my two teens. I was looking for a hotel that had the traditional architecture and look of the French Quarter combined with the contemporary, hip, up-market feel of a boutique hotel. After time-consumingly weighing all the options, I finally settled on the W French Quarter, which quickly became a family favorite – when teenagers give a “thumbs up” (or in this case, when they form the shape of a “W” with their fingers), you have hit parent pay dirt.
First and foremost on the list of pros has to be the location on Chartres (pronounced Charters), a charming little street with great art galleries, bars and boutiques. From the W, its a straight shot to Jackson Square – 3 or 4 mini blocks down the street, Cafe du Monde and other local attractions. As always, I made it a priority to have a peek at some of the other contender hotels and found them to be either in a funky location (in a bad way) or really dated and rough around the edges. Personally, I would not stay on or just-off St Charles, which felt just slightly to the left of edgy, therefore ruling out several options, including the Ritz. Ditto Bourbon St, where the constant chaos would make me want to slit my wrists after an hour. For us, the W was a little haven – understated, hip and quiet.
Our room, located on the second floor, featured a charming terrace overlooking Chartres Street. With two double beds, the room itself was fine for us. The decor was sleek and modern, though a little dark. This was off-set by the large balcony, which brought in light and gave much needed space to the beleaguered mother. The bathroom was surprisingly roomy with a large, walk-in shower (no bath) and Bliss Spa products, which are so good, I’m convinced the pilferage rate is through the roof. One note – the bathroom “door” is a frosted sliding glass panel – very modern chic, but possibly not for the more modest traveling companion. Fun fact – the kids were highly amused at some of the mini bar offerings, including the “Romance Pack” of lubricant, condom and breath freshner!!!
Undoubtedly the best part of the W French Quarter is the courtyard, a study in cool comfort where gas lamps blend with oversized Balinese daybeds. There’s a small pool to enjoy in the day, but the vibe is best experienced at night, when the star-shaped candles in the trees are lit and the piped-in music lulls you into the depths of your daybed. Another fun fact – a trompe l’oeil video is discreetly shown against a courtyard wall depicting various room scenes in which imaginary hotel guests are looking out their windows, having phone conversations, pouring a drink, or undressing (modestly). It feels very “Rear Window” and kept us all entertained for ages.
The only minor downsides – room service is linked to the Italian restaurant downstairs which doesn’t offer a great variety of food or snack items. However, there are so many eating options within walking distance that it was a non-issue, though would have been nice. Also – the service was not terrific, but possibly due to a full house every night of our stay. Tips – Breakfast – go across the street to the Fleur de Lys – amazing and quick food; great pizza place (Rotelos) also across the street with killer calzones; Stanley on the square good for brunch or lunch; Definitely do the New Orleans Haunted History tour with Jonathan as your guide.