Established by the French in 1718, and chosen for its strategic position along the Mississippi River, the city of New Oreans was named “La nouvelle Orleans” in honour of Philippe, Duc d'Orleans. The French Quarter is the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans.
In 1762, either because he lost a bet, or because the royal coffers were exhausted, Louis XV gave Louisiana to his Spanish cousin, King Charles III. During the Spanish rule two fires devastated New Orleans and most of the buildings you see nowadays in the French Quarter were actually constructed by the Spanish. Today the district is a National Historic Landmark.
Under French, Spanish and American flags, Creole society coalesced into a unique melting pot as Islanders, West Africans, slaves, free people of color and indentured servants poured into the city along with a mix of French and Spanish aristocrats, merchants, farmers, soldiers, freed prisoners and nuns. The Haitian Revolution of 1804 meant that for years to come thousands of Afro-Caribbean descent would come to call New Orleans home. The traditions of Voodoo arrived with these African peoples and still form part of the unique New Orleans culture today.
In combination the contributions of Africans, Caribbean peoples, the French, Spanish, Italians, Germans, Irish, Sicilians and more have created a society unlike any other.
The stunning architecture of New Orlean’s famous French Quarter’s is the dominant feature likely to first catch your eye. Balconies adorned with intricate ironwork and courtyards filled with lush greenery and fountains showcase the French Quarter's European roots. Many buildings carry ceramic plaques informing visitors of street names such as Calle de Borbon dating back to Spanish rule.
Life in the Quarter centres on New Orleans' most famous landmark, Jackson Square. Originally known as the Place d'Armes, the square was renamed to honor Andrew Jackson, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans that took place at the culmination of the war of 1812. The square is flanked by historic structures such as the St. Louis Cathedral and the Pontalba Apartments (the oldest apartment buildings in the U.S.).
Walk the beautiful gardens inside the square, make a wish as you toss a coin into the fountain and take that iconic New Orleans photograph. Every street in the French Quarter has something to offer from classic restaurants, music venues, boutique shopping to voodoo temples. And no trip to the Quarter is complete without a trip to the historic French Market for souvenirs.
Many visitors choose to explore the French Quarter using the neighborhood's original mode of transportation - the mule-drawn carriage. But New Orleans is a very walkable city as the downtown area is only just over 3 km x 1.5 km in size
New Orleans neighborhoods are where the city’s culture and creativity come to life. From the historic French Quarter to the elegant Garden District to the music-filled Marigny - there is great food, music and more to be found all across the city.
Here are just 5 “not to be missed” streets that you should stroll along and soak up the unique New Orleans vibe.
A variety of guided tours are available covering topics such as the haunted, historical and culinary delights of New Orleans - there is even a cocktail tour!
New Orleans is famous for its cemetery tours. Most deceased in New Orleans are interred above ground because of the city's high water table and below sea-level elevation.
There are 42 cemeteries in the metropolitan New Orleans area featuring family-built tombs capable of interring as many as a dozen bodies. The largest cemetery is Lake Lawn Metairie Cemetery and it is definitely worth a visit to view incredibly beautiful tombs set in lovely garden areas and topped with handsome sculpture. Hear stories of snubbed millionaires, mausoleums so large and complex they bankrupted the contractors creating them and the sad tale of the Woman with the Lantern.
The St Louis Cemetery No 1 was the fourth cemetery in New Orleans and was laid out in two squares. A third square was set aside for the burial of African-American Catholics. Such notable African-Americans as “voodoo queen” Marie Laveau are buried here.
The night never has to end in New Orleans since bars and clubs are not required to close. In fact, many say the city is at its best under the glow of a French Quarter street lamp. But to suggest the party starts and ends on Bourbon Street sells the rest of the city short. New Orleans has many distinct neighborhoods that offer nightlife options from incredible live music on Frenchmen Street to intimate cocktails just a neighborhood away. Harrah's Casino caters to the high rollers at heart and the city is home to slick nightclubs where you can dance the night away.
It is said that New Orleans residents should have five good costumes ready to go at any given time. Celebration is at the core of the New Orleans' experience and each year a season of New Orleans festivals kicks off with the biggest of them all in Mardi Gras. While Mardi Gras undoubtedly has pagan, pre-Christian origins, the Catholic Church legitimized the festival as a brief celebration before the penitential season of Lent. The date of Mardi Gras is set to occur 46 days before Easter and can fall as early as February 3 or as late as March 9.
New Orleans' Old World roots have created a strong foundation and long-standing appreciation for the arts. Early residents of the city often traveled back to Europe for musical instruction or training in the visual arts. And operatic performances took place in the city as early as 1796.
Today the scene thrives via countless galleries, performance spaces and museums. Embodying the joie de vivre (joy of life) so prevalent in New Orleans – the unique culture and love of food, music and fun blends perfectly with a vibrant arts scene creating experiences you can't find anywhere else.
And top of your cultural list in New Orleans has to be Jazz! They say that Jazz music was born in New Orleans in the l890's when Buddy Bolden put his cornet to his lips and blew a few hot notes to a cool tune. Just that simple and Jazz was created - an American original and a world favorite. Jazz mixes African and Creole rhythms with African American and European styles. And the Irish, Germans and Italians contributed the presence of brass bands - Jazz could only have been created in the cultural melting pot that is New Orleans!
In New Orleans, a great drink is just as important as a great meal (and great music for that matter). New Orleans knows how to mix a cocktail – for instance enjoy a “Hurricane” where it was invented at Pat O'Brien's pub. This sweet, juice-filled rum drink is the most famous cocktail on Bourbon Street.
And here are just a few of the culinary dishes for which New Orleans is famous.
Hotels.com™ will make it easy for you to find the perfect place in New Orleans. Here are just four examples of the huge choice available – from a small boutique 14 room hotel in a gorgeous historic Victorian mansion – to a contemporary 117 room hotel packed with local artistry – to an historic Beaux Arts hotel offering outstanding levels of service - to the 254 room Hyatt French Quarter with all the facilities you associate with the Hyatt name.
Conveniently near the airport, The Cornstalk Hotel is in New Orleans’ French Quarter and close to the Historic Voodoo Museum, Basin St. Station Visitor Information Cultural Center, and the French Market. Also nearby are Jackson Square and New Orleans Jazz Park.
The Cornstalk continues to be one of the hotels with the highest Guest Satisfaction records in New Orleans. A gorgeous French Quarter Victorian building that is on the National Register of Historic Places, it is equally as famous as a tourist attraction as it is a Hotel. The 'cornstalk' fence was erected in 1840 by the owner, recently married, who wanted to ease his bride's homesickness for her home state of Iowa.
The Cornstalk Hotel has attracted many famous guests that include; Bill & Hillary Clinton, and even the "King" himself...Elvis graced the halls of The Cornstalk.
The Cornstalk features 14 beautifully appointed historic and welcoming guest rooms with comfortable furnishings that will send you back in time. Rooms open to patios and are air-conditioned. Beds have Select Comfort mattresses and premium bedding. Guests can use the in-room complimentary wireless high-speed Internet access. 20-inch LCD TVs are equipped with cable channels. All accommodations provide phones along with free local calls (restrictions may apply). In addition, amenities available on request include refrigerators, hair dryers, and irons/ironing boards. Turndown service is offered nightly and housekeeping is available daily.
This historic Beaux Arts hotel in the heart of downtown New Orleans is 1 kilometer from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The National World War II Museum, Harrah's Casino and the historic French Quarter are all within a short walking distance of the hotel.
Le Pavillon Hotel is an architectural landmark originally constructed in 1907 and a member of the Historic Hotels of America and the Leading Hotels of the World. The hotel has a rooftop terrace and the lobby exudes opulence with Parisian woodwork, Italian-marble floors and 5 Czech crystal chandeliers. The hotel's fine-dining restaurant, The Crystal Room, features high ceilings, a fireplace and portraits of famous New Orleanians. Le Gallery Lounge displays an extremely rare Sienna-marble balustrade constructed of green onyx and bronze.
The 10-story Le Pavillon Hotel offers 226 guestrooms decorated with antique-style furnishings that include armoires that conceal TVs. Tables are paired with Victorian-style chairs. All rooms have hand-painted ceilings, original artwork, ceiling fans and custom-woven draperies. Beds feature 250-thread count linens and custom bedspreads. Bathrooms have black-marble floors, walls and vanities. All accommodations include 46-inch flat-screen TVs, minibars and coffeemakers. Wireless and wired Internet access and in-room safes are complimentary.
The hotel offers a complimentary 24-hour fitness center contains an elliptical machine, 2 treadmills, free weights and yoga mats. Guests can also enjoy the outdoor swimming pool.
The International House is located in New Orleans, two blocks from the French Quarter and Bourbon Street. This property stands within 1.5 kms of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the Riverwalk, Harrah's Casino and Jackson Square.
Alive with the energy of contemporary New Orleans, the lobby displays 23-foot high ceilings, ornate pilasters and intimate groupings of furniture handcrafted by local artisans. The lobby's handmade chandeliers, a candle-lit bar, and inviting mosaic-designed elevator cabs exude a welcoming and artistic environment. The International House is home to the mood-evoking Loa bar, named after the voodoo term for "divine spirit."
The 12-story International Hotel offers 117 individually configured, contemporary smoke-free guestrooms. Décor incorporates shades of taupe, tan and white. Original black-and-white photographs of New Orleans jazz greats bedeck the walls. Local touches include fresh Louisiana wildflowers, packaged bags of nuts, chocolates and jellybeans, and distressed armoires crafted by New Orleans artisans. Beds are draped with 800-thread-count linens. Bathrooms include glass-blown soap dishes, Aveda toiletries, bathrobes and slippers. Select rooms feature CD players stocked with local artists' CDs. Suites feature flat-panel televisions and room service.
The hotel's locally inspired, artistic themes extend to the complimentary 24-hour fitness room, where art students' faces were used as molds for glass, wall-mounted images seemingly supported by weight-training cables. The fitness room contains cardiovascular equipment, weight-training machines, exercise balls, a punching bag, free weights, and yoga available for in-room use. A complimentary light and healthy breakfast consisting of coffee, tea, granola, bananas, oranges, and organic green apples is also available to guests.
The Hyatt French Quarter is adjacent to Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Jackson Square and Café du Monde are located about 1 km from this property.
Recently renovated, the Hyatt French Quarter maintains links to its pre-Civil War origins. At one point in its history the building was a department store and the hotel retains alabaster pillars salvaged from the department store's original soda fountain, marble floors, exposed cypress beams in the courtyard and a famous clock, which still hangs from its perch on Canal Street.
The hotel offers 254 guestrooms with 12-foot ceilings, oversized windows and an eclectic mix of antique-style furniture. Select accommodations feature columns and beams from the hotel's former days as a department store. Some rooms include balconies that overlook the French Quarter, tropical gardens, or Bourbon Street. Beds are draped with 300-thread count sheets and colorful throws. All rooms offer wireless and wired Internet access for a fee, an iPod docking station, and 32-inch HDTV.
The hotel is home to one of the city's most popular restaurants, Ralph Brennan's Red Fish Grill, which serves signature dishes such as coconut-crusted shrimp. Recreational amenities include a health club and a courtyard-enclosed outdoor pool surrounded by terra cotta-colored stones and jar fountains.