For some travelers, accommodations hold equal importance to the activities and atmosphere of a new location…I am one of those travelers. I, like many others, love a good hotel. We get a rush from warm lights and bellhops. We love the sound of elevators lightly chirping and the smell of room service down the hall. Our heart skips beats with the number of stars added to the hotel’s rating…three stars…four stars…five stars…heart stops and then beats ruby red in our love-sick gaze.
So when New Orleans, Louisiana came up on my 13-month tour, I knew I had to stay in a location that would make my heart flutter. And, I knew I wanted to stay in the French Quarter. Nothing against downtown–I stayed once before–but I wanted the authentic Vieux Carre… And there are plenty to choose from. Giant chains, intimate inns, and independently owned experiences. But the moment I saw the Hotel Monteleone, she stood out. Actually, she smiled seductively as I watched, waved at me, then whispered:
you know you want to stay here…
If you happen to follow me on Instagram (which, you totally should) you know how much I love old hotels. The nostalgic charm, old Victorian décor, and an impression of courtly wealth. Old hotels invite me into a fantasy I would never experience otherwise. For this reason and many more, I booked my stay at the Hotel Monteleone.
The common phrase at the Monteleone? “The French Quarter starts here…”
Because an old hotel must have an intricate history, right? The hotel remains one of the last family owned hotels in the city. Kind of impressive in a world full of fancy chains (and don’t get me wrong, because I love a good hotel chain). The staff at the Hotel Monteleone often boast of the personable nature of the owners–who do make trips to the property and stay in their own accommodations.
Oh, and bonus? The staff loves the hotel. I don’t know about you, but that makes a difference, especially where customer service is concerned. In hotels, people may come and go, but a healthy portion of the staff have worked for the long haul. And you can feel the love in their voices every time they greet you.
Antonio Monteleone, and the next four generations after him, turned the initially 64-room Commercial Hotel into the now 570-room Monteleone. Renovated quite a few times to account for additional rooms, the famous Carousel Bar, and gorgeous Rooftop Pool, the hotel is actually three separate buildings. And interestingly enough, they don’t easily slide into one another… But more on that later.
Old hotels have the uncanny ability of providing luxury while also offering coziness. Unless you stay in one of the Monteleone’s suites, you never feel swallowed by the room. Instead, you feel at home, a warm invitation you carry with you onto the streets of the French Quarter.
I got to NOLA about 9am CST, originally waking in my Georgia home at 2am EST. So, when I walked into my room, I fell into the bed. No seriously, the plush pillows wrapped their cool arms around my body and let me sink in. My body heat mixed with their scent and next thing I knew, two hours had passed with me just lying in the bed. I am not joking. That is part of the magic of the Hotel Monteleone.
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Fit for Royalty
HUGE thanks to Enron from guest services for accompanying me on my beautiful tour of this hotel…
I love the colors of the Hotel Monteleone, love how they blend and blur into each other. I love how each tone, each swirl of color expresses a different message. The lobby shines in hues of sunlight and dark fire. Although full of space, the lobby never feels empty–even when it is. Earth tones greet you when you walk in, along with gorgeous chandeliers and a doorman that is every bit elegant and southern twang at the same time.
(Oh, and doormen remain at the front doors when you leave and return–talk about perfect gentlemen!)
Remember when I mentioned the hotel is actually three separate buildings? Different renovations added each building to the core. But here’s the twist–each building doesn’t perfectly blend into the other. Enter the several sets of elevators. Different sets of lifts will take you to one part of the hotel, but can’t take you to another. You can actually get lost if you don’t take the right pair! Needless to say I never strayed from my set.
Now, take a few floors up from the lobby and the atmosphere changes entirely…
Suddenly white floods the room, light dances off the floors, the walls, the elevators. Luxury shimmers and gleams as you enter the realm of ballrooms and elegance. You left homey charm for royalty. Though the luxury screams exclusivity, I couldn’t stop the breathless wonder in my eyes as I wandered down these halls. As if caught in their magnificence.
Then the colors shift again as we move into conference rooms and halls. Color floods the light. Not quite the same warmth as the lobby, but nowhere near the silent statement the white halls made.
- The Hotel Monteleone is featured in several movies including Double Jeopardy, Glory Road, and most recently, Girls Trip!
- NCIS: New Orleans has filmed several scenes at the Carousel Bar and in the luxury suites
- Did you know ghosts haunt the hotel?? Former employees and children frequently haunt the halls of the Monteleone…
One of the two most famous attractions of the Hotel Monteleone, the Rooftop pool reminds me a bit of 1950s money. Picture a party thrown by a young, but stately man who recently came into his money and wants to show off. He purchased a home with a gorgeous pool area and quickly fills it with drinks, music, and beautiful women… Enter the Acqua Bella Bar and Pool.
Named one of the three Literary Landmarks in the country, the Hotel Monteleone has always hosted famous writers. Earnest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Anne Rice, and John Gresham–just a few of the names that stayed in the sweet suites of the Monteleone as they pinned their genius on the page.
Of course I stayed at the Hotel Monteleone. I have a degree in English and Creative Writing. This hotel was made for me…
Several writers stayed in the hotel so often that they now have a suite named after them. Eudora Welty (The Purple Hat) is one such author. And I had the privilege of sauntering inside her rooms during my tour.
I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of Welty’s color scheme here, but my mouth fell open at the space! Luxury talks a little louder than the cozy here, but you can still feel both in the soft loveseat and comfortable bedroom.
And I saved the best for last… the pinnacle of the hotel, the crown jewel, the biggest tourist attraction, the piece de resistance…
Carousel Bar and Lounge
Combining the sweet innocence of a merry-go-round with the laissez le bon temps rouler of New Orleans, I give you, the Carousel Bar and Lounge. Yes, that is an actual carousel. No, you should not bring your kids…
This bar actually spins! Slowly, of course, lest some inebriated beauty from out-of-town falls right out of her revolving seat. A full rotation takes about fifteen minutes, but patrons have testified leaving the bar to use the restroom only to come back and park in the wrong chair. Because the bar has shifted already.
Opening at 11am, the party round the Carousel lasts until the last patron finishes their glass–or the early morning, whichever comes first. The website literally reads, 11am – Until. And then the word empties into the white space of unknown possibilities…
Then we move into the Lounge…
And again, a color shift…the bright, giddy fun of the bar fades into a deeper, darker tone, full of secrets and jazz.
The lounge is deceptively perfect. At one angle, she opens up like a house party–loud music and liquor, the deafening sound of chatter and laughter, flesh sliding against flesh in a dance as old as time… Then the angle changes and the music quiets down, soft croons and two fingers of your best whiskey. Two people sit together at the far end of the room, their hands brushing lightly with the promise of more…
I’m more partial to the latter image. Especially once you look at the artwork. Photographs by Alfred Cheney adorned with beads and crystals help provide the atmosphere of the roaring twenties, flappers, and plenty of secret libations (remember prohibition?). Not mention, the beads bring out the fun of Mardi Gras.
Thanks to Tiffany Scott from Guest Services for setting up my entire tour and accompanying me on my tour of the Carousel Bar and Lounge.
I have no regrets after three nights in the Hotel Montelelone. Despite whispered tales of haunted rooms and halls, my experience was rather void of the supernatural. But full of magic. Magic that only resides in the Big Easy. Often imitated, no city holds her own like NOLA. And the Hotel Monteleone captures the heart of the city, as she has since 1886.
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Have you ever stayed at the Monteleone? Tell me about your experience in the comments below!
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Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are still my own.