Hotel at a Glance: Astor Crowne Plaza New Orleans
The sumptuously decorated Astor Crowne Plaza places guests in the heart of New Orleans—so close they can hear it beating. Or maybe that's the sound of jazz ensembles keeping the rhythm in the French Quarter below. The hotel is just around the corner from party-centric Bourbon Street, so guests can let the good times roll the second they step out.
- Hop aboard: The Canal Street streetcar stops right outside.
- Luxury accommodations: Guest rooms have been tastefully decorated with a modern New Orleans aesthetic, and feature free WiFi and a 37-inch flat-screen TV.
- Award winner: The hotel holds a prestigious Four Diamond rating from AAA.
- Ignore the time: New Orleans does not tell bars when to close, and the hotel offers in-room dining all night and into the morning.
- Shop till you drop at Riverwalk Marketplace, a 10-minute walk away.
New Orleans’s French Quarter: Let the Good Times Roll
"Stop thinking of New Orleans as the worst-organized city in the United States," writes author Dan Baum in Nine Lives, his post-Katrina book. "Start thinking of it as the best-organized city in the Caribbean." Some folks think there is something distinctly foreign about New Orleans, a place where people’s priorities seem inclined toward enjoying life and relishing the moment at hand. Nothing says it better than the town’s unofficial Cajun creed: “Laissez les bons temp rouler,” or "Let the good times roll."
Historical buildings with intricate wrought-iron balconies line the narrow streets of New Orleans’s French Quarter. Here, street musicians often fill the air with jazz music, their trombones and tubas swinging back and forth. Just off the Jackson Square park and near the towering St. Louis Cathedral, the legendary Café Du Monde serves beignets under heaping piles of powdered sugar, as well as cups of iced or steaming café au lait.
And then there's Bourbon Street, where neon lights advertise frozen cocktails and gaudy strip clubs and crowds gather along 13 city blocks. The nearby Frenchmen Street, just north of the Quarter, provides a slightly less touristy taste of New Orleans nightlife. Some of the city’s most popular live jazz and blues bars dominate this historic two-block district, with each venue hosting world-class musicians nearly every night of the week. Jazz fills the air at the Spotted Cat Music Club, where a sign warns that both drinks and drunks are barred from the piano—but like all rules in New Orleans, it's one that's bound to get bent from time to time.