The Big Easy has more bars per capita than any other US city. Which might explain why everyone is so laid back and happy all the time. Some of the classiest joints are tucked away in hotels, where you’ll find equal measures of tourists, locals and business travellers clinking coupes or treating their hangovers with a milk rum punch. Here’s our pick of the best hotel bars in New Orleans.
The timeless Roosevelt has three bars, including one serving mango mojitos and respite from scorching summer days by the rooftop pool. But our favourite is the snazzy Sazerac Bar, named after the city’s signature drink.
Pull up a chocolate leather stool at the long walnut bar, dotted with desk lamps and overlooked by Paul Ninas murals, and order the gin fizz – invented right here. If sweet drinks aren’t your thing, the bartenders also mix a mean Old Fashioned. And pretty much any other cocktail you can think of.
If you want to avoid the crowds, head to this revolving bar in Hotel Monterleone straight after breakfast. It might seem a little early for a cocktail (although, this is New Orleans) but even sipping a coffee as the circular bar and its chairs rotate around the room is an experience not to be missed.
Great fun for meeting people, watching the bartenders expertly keep up with their orders (as their customers spin past them) and – if you’re in the mood – sipping a glass of champagne or a Vieux Carré, named for the city’s French Quarter and invented in 1938 by the Carousel’s head bartender.
This new bar is hidden away on the second floor of the Hilton Riverside, by the banks of the Mississippi.
Once you sink into one of the plush leather stools – like armchairs on stilts – you won’t want to leave. Especially if the bartender brings out the absinthe fountain, which slowly drips iced water over a flambéed sugar cube until the spirit begins to cloud.
In the entrance of the Sheraton, this feels less like somewhere to pass through and more like somewhere to linger. Down a few steps from reception, the Pelican has more atmosphere and character than most lobby bars, and while you can see the comings and goings, the clever layout means no tripping over suitcases.
There are free wine tastings for hotel guests, delicious cocktails including a jalapeno cucumber margarita, and a series of artworks featuring the Blue Dog, the iconic creation of late artist George Rodrigue.
Both modern and gloriously old school, with pale wood, exposed brick and shiny taps, the Queen & Crescent hotel bar lies between the Arts District and the French Quarter. But it feels a world away from the busyness, especially once you start working your way through the inventive cocktail list, which includes concoctions of earl grey, lavender and thyme.
If you don’t have dinner reservations, linger all evening and order a “˜Shrooms’ pizza. In fact, why not just get a room?
Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse
Catching a jazz or saucy burlesque show in this cosy bar at the Royal Sonesta – a bubble of sophisticated calm off frenetic Bourbon Street – is always a treat.
The lights are low, the drinks are strong, and the performances are always on point. Arrive early for a table steps away from the stage, or take your chances and jostle past bobbing bodies for a perch at the bar.
In the Prince Conti Hotel, the Bombay Club boasts the largest selection of martinis in New Orleans. Choices include “˜Cho-Cho Chocolate’ with port, cream and cocoa and the Martinez with maraschino liqueur.
Soak it up with pork “˜cracklins’, cheeseburgers and deliciously oozy scotch eggs. Forest green bar stools, cosy armchairs and candelabras add to the air of class.
8 Block Kitchen & Bar
Tucked into the third floor lobby of the labyrinthine Hyatt Regency, the open kitchen is known for fab farm-to-table dishes and lavish breakfast, brunch and lunch buffets.
After dusk the muted tones, quality cocktails and live jazz make it as authentic as any bar in the French Quarter. One of the best hotel bars in New Orleans to kick off a night out.
In the summer, this bar in the International House Hotel hands out free cocktails between 5.30pm and 7.30pm, if you can get through the crowds.
The name comes from divine spirits of the voodoo faith, but the real spirits here are found in the glasses and in the jovial conversations of well-watered customers. “˜Spirits handler’ Alan Walter forages for ingredients such as honeycomb, bamboo and the Spanish moss that drapes from the city’s trees to infuse his homemade cordials and syrups.
A surprisingly harmonious mix of sleek zinc and red velvet, the bar at Hotel Modern was named after a photographer who captured on camera the madams of Storyville, New Orleans’ red light district, at the turn of the 20th century.
Its menu is equally unusual, with delicious brandy milk punch and “˜cobblers’ – muddles of fresh fruit, fortified wine or liqueurs, sugar and crushed ice. Sweet jars filled with freeze-dried raspberries, orange peel and marshmallows line the bar, ready to be called upon for the next marvellous creation.
Thanks to our partnership with Delta, visiting New Orleans has never been easier. Why not try some of these hotel watering holes on your next trip?
Have you tried any of these hotel bars in New Orleans? Which is your favourite? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Ella Buchan