Image via Henry Howard Hotel
There are certain things about NOLA that remain a mystery: the secret to Café Du Monde beignets, how to beat that killer Bourbon Street hangover, even the correct pronunciation of “New Orleans.” But amidst all this hazy confusion, one thing remains starkly clear: New Orleans design is stunning. Though often overshadowed by the drunken merriment and nudity associated with Mardi Gras festivities, the vibrant and bold style of New Orleans is a crowning characteristic of the city’s beloved culture. We’ve put together a NOLA guide for design-loving travelers, which is especially necessary at a time of year when most visitors might be too tipsy to find their own way.
The French Quarter
As one of the most famous neighborhoods in NOLA–nay, the world–visiting the French Quarter is a bucket-list-must. Its quaint yet brazen aesthetic is a true testament to the city’s origins as a French colony turned Spanish territory. The ensuing melting of cultures created a tasty medley (jambalaya, anyone?) of French and Spanish design that’s still embedded in its streets today. To say the style is detail-oriented is an understatement. There is no flourish too small and no trimming too sparse for a coat of paint in a bright hue. Decorative precision is granted to every last ornamentation, from shutters and railings, to moulding and gingerbread brackets.
Beloved Bourbon Street pulses with life into the wee hours of the night, with energy derived as much from its adorable creole cottages as from its liquor. The assortment of bars can be overwhelming, so be sure to check out Cane & Table, Preservation Hall, and Napoleon House & Bar in particular. For food, look no further than family-owned and internationally-revered Galatoire’s, adored for its French-Creole fare and green-wallpapered dining room. Indulge in ultimate French Quarter luxury by staying the night at Hotel Monteleone and have a cocktail at its famous revolving Carousel Bar.
The Garden District
To fully appreciate this upscale locale, bunk at this double gallery townhouse reimagined as the Henry Howard Hotel. Then in the morning, tour the neighborhood on the iconic St. Charles streetcar, which is the oldest still-functioning streetcar of its kind in the world. As you zip along shrouded by a canopy of 100-year-old Oak trees, keep your head on a swivel to take in the gargantuan mansions flanking you on both sides. The Greek revival and Victorian architecture boast lavish columns and turrets. Hop off the streetcar to tour the above-ground tombs of Lafayette Cemetery, or if that’s too morbid, continue gaping at awesome abodes on nearby Prytania Street.
Arts and Warehouse Districts
Need a break from the mayhem of those tourist-infested boroughs? Escape to the locally beloved Arts and Warehouse Districts, which house many top-notch haunts. Grab some carnivorous grub at Cochon Butcher before heading over to the rooftop bar and pool of the Ace Hotel for a quick dip, a drink, and a vast ariel view of the city. Still hungry? Check out the french-bistro-inspired Petit Lion in the nearby Central Business District.
Bywater & Faubourg Marigny
The sister neighborhoods of Bywater and Faubourg Marigny create a true technicolor dreamland. Their houses dazzle with bold pairings of bright colors that somehow never seem to clash. There is a thriving arts scene in this sect of the city that includes the Spotted Cat Music Club, the Marigny Opera House, and an auto body shop turned performance art space and gallery called the Art Garage. For equally stellar cuisine, snag a heaping plate of southern food from a variety of vendors at St. Roch Market on historic St. Claude Ave.
Where to Stay
Ace Hotel New Orleans, Warehouse District
Henry Howard Hotel, Garden District
Hotel Monteleone, French Quarter
Where to Eat
Bacchanal Wine, Ninth Ward
Galatoire’s, French Quarter
Petit Lion, Central Business District
St. Roch Market, Marigny
Cochon Butcher, Arts District/Warehouse District
Where to Drink
Spotted Cat Music Club, Faubourg Marigny
Cane & Table, French Quarter
Preservation Hall, French Quarter
Napoleon House & Bar, French Quarter