Just beyond the walls of the Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans, Bourbon Street, the St. Louis Cathedral, and the many other attractions of the French Quarter beckon. But you need not leave the Ritz’s century-old, 14-story structure on Canal Street to experience the soul of the city: its people. Several nights each week, Marva Wright, also known as the Blues Queen of New Orleans, sings in the hotel’s On Trois lounge; trumpeter Jeremy Davenport performs jazz standards at the Mélange restaurant; and mixologist Chris McMillian concocts classic cocktails and delivers spirited stories in the Library Lounge.
The Ritz-Carlton opened just five years before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in August 2005. Devastated by floodwaters, the property, like so much of the city, was forced to shut down. While areas of New Orleans still are struggling to rebuild, the Ritz is back and better than ever.
After a 15-month closure and a $105 million renovation, the Ritz reopened late last year. The hotel has retained its French Quarter ambience, with crystal chandeliers, 19th-century furnishings, Oriental rugs, and oil paintings throughout the public spaces. On Trois, located on the third floor, is appointed in pale gold colors and serves such bite-size regional specialties as rémoulade, lobster, and crawfish.
The Maison Orleans, a hotel within the Ritz, occupies the fourth through ninth floors and houses 75 accommodations with hardwood floors, Louis XVI–style furnishings, and ceiling fans. Guests staying at the Maison Orleans are greeted upon arrival with a glass of Champagne and escorted to a magnolia-scented, antebellum-style sitting room. There, a seersucker-clad concierge—your personal attendant for the duration of your stay—checks you in and initiates your introduction to the new New Orleans.
The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, 504.524.1331, www.ritzcarlton.com
On Canal Street in the French Quarter.
Among the 527 rooms are 36 suites, the largest of which is a 2,800-square-foot space on the top floor. The fourth through ninth stories are home to the Maison Orleans, or Club Level (74 rooms and one suite), where guests enjoy personal concierge service.
The newly renovated spa comprises 22 treatment rooms, a fitness center, an indoor swimming pool, and a café. The Mercier Terrace and the Grand and Lafayette ballrooms can be reserved for events, the second-floor boardroom and various salons for meetings.
Executive chef Peter Moore prepares regional favorites at Mélange, where live jazz contributes to a supper-club atmosphere. (Call ahead to reserve the chef’s table in the kitchen or a private dining room that seats 12.) The French Quarter Bar and the Library Lounge stir up classic cocktails, while On Trois is an ideal spot for Saturday afternoon tea.
A helicopter trip to the Gulf of Mexico, where you spend the day deep-sea fishing on a chartered craft. That night, chef Moore will cook your catch for dinner.
From $400 to $4,000.