By: Jonathan Stinson
As I drove down the majestic one-way cobblestone streets of downtown New Orleans toward check-in at the W Hotel on Chartres, I immediately felt the powerful energy of a timeless city untouched. The French architecture has remained immaculately preserved with each restaurant, art gallery and storefront entrance embroidered with a plaque of historic value that ignites this city with a virtue unlike anywhere I have visited in America. The culture and community have such pride and presence that you automatically feel like a local when visiting certain establishments around the Quarter. The locals will likely sit next to you and tell you stories of abundance and despair, such as Hurricane Katrina, but with a smile of pride that they reside in the city of eternal poise. These stories are so entrancing that you look up and realize you have been completely silent through three Sazeracs and 45 minutes – the Sazerac is a local New Orleans variation of a Cognac cocktail, named for the Sazerac de Forge et Fils brand of Cognac brandy – yet your attention has been completely mesmerized by whimsical words of the speaker. New Orleans is a city that will forever hold my heart and soul in it’s grasp, without apprehension to let it clamp down on either, as it avails me the experience to be among a wonderful group of fascinating souls that compose this beautiful city.
Located in the historic French Quarter, The W Hotel is moments away from the best that New Orleans has to offer, such as the Napoleon House Restaurant, which its’ first occupant, Nicholas Girod, was mayor of New Orleans from 1812 to 1815 whom offered his residence to Napoleon in 1821 as a refuge during his exile. The W Hotel is also a close walk to the Mississippi River and Jackson Square that are both historically renowned. From the moment you step out onto the cobblestone driveway and proceed under the spherically sculpted, blue lighting installation upon the W Hotel’s entrance, you will find that you are greeted with genuine Southern hospitality that evokes a feeling of eternal welcome. As you are escorted through the hotel, you will notice that the ambiance is surprisingly modern with a touch of elegance and beautifully soft lighting. The amenities are nothing short of spectacular with a 24-hour work out facility, heated pool, roaring fire-lit fountain, Bliss beauty products and a concierge that knows everything New Orleans has to offer. I probably called the desk a few times just to praise the authentic jazz music flooding my balcony from the streets.
After a quick run on the treadmill, I met a few close friends at the downstairs bar, which could only be described as a modern creole saloon named SoBou. This bar is an award-winning restaurant from the Commander’s Family Restaurants and as any local in New Orleans will tell you, Commanders Palace is legendary. To quote the hotel, “Here, you’ll find that life is meant to be lived, not endured.” Thank you for an unforgettable experience, which transported me to an era that I have only experienced through film.
W Hotel – French Quarter New Orleans
316 Chartres Street
New Orleans, LA 70130