Chic New Orleans Hotel near French Quarter
The forest-green St. Charles streetcar, one of the world's oldest continuously operating transit vehicles of its kind, still rumbles down the street outside the Royal St. Charles Hotel, located just a block away from the historic French Quarter. The contemporary boutique hotel provides easy access to both the old-school New Orleans of streetcars and jazz joints and the hard-partying New Orleans of bawdy, boozy Bourbon Street.
The hotel's guest rooms are decorated with bold colors and original artwork. In the morning, you can pop into PJ's Coffee in the lobby for a pastry or pick-me-up. A concierge is on hand to help you plan forays into the French Quarter or Harrah’s New Orleans casino, both of which are within walking distance. There’s also a streetcar stop in front of the hotel if you’d like to travel farther.
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.