Best Hotel Bars in New Orleans
Where just about nobody knows your name
The Carousel Bar & Lounge
Sara Essex Bradley
(page 1 of 5)
“As she situated herself on the stool, staring into the mirror that covered the entire back bar, she could see almost the entire room behind her. Small meetings between three and four persons were taking place. Some punctuated by smiles and laughter. Others appeared to be of a decidedly more serious nature. All accompanied by liquids in diverse shades contained within assorted glassware of various shapes.
She saw herself in the reflection. Not bad-looking considering the stressful day she had endured, lugging her briefcase and sample case from office to office, seeking success in the minds of strangers. She thought about going upstairs to her rented-for-the-night room, slipping out of the business suit and heels, then into a warm soothing bath.
But here, in the hotel bar, she could decompress in another way, enjoying at a distance the company of people she had never seen before and likely would not encounter again. Safety in anonymity.
And then, the young man approached.”
Come, Let Us Flee by Thomas Bexar, Ranger Press, 2012
All great cities have hotel bars of note. Some hotels operate their adult-beverage area primarily as an accommodation to guests. Others are all-in to attract thirsty visitors and residents alike, providing interesting surroundings and backdrops for gatherings of every type.
On the hotel bar scale of priority, comfortable socialization comes first. Recreation is next, followed by business purposes, gathering spots for meetings that eventually relocate to another venue, and finally just for being alone, enjoying a beverage, without being truly alone.
Hotel bars in New Orleans are really not that different from hotel bars in other cities – except, of course, that they’re in New Orleans where the stakes are higher. If the hotel commits to operating a bar successfully, the competition right outside the hotel’s door has to be considered. How do you make those potential patrons on the outside step inside when the choices in the neighborhood are unlimited and exciting?
Some hotels have become quite adept at being in the center of the action, and they’ve invested heavily in becoming a “people magnet” for locals and visitors alike. Other hotels are content to quietly serve paying room guests in comfortable, if not corporate, surroundings.
For our purposes, we’ve divided hotel bars into several categories, and have focused on those hotel bars in the French Quarter and Central Business District, for the most part. That is where the action is on this topic in our community.
936 St. Charles Ave., 962-0911, thehotelmodern.com/bellocq
It is worth the hunt to find it; tucked behind the hotel alongside Lee Circle, Bellocq is a quiet, creative project designed from the ground up to demonstrate a new, organic direction in cocktail mixology. The same folks who opened Cure on Freret Street are the brains and brawn behind this operation, which specializes in modern interpretations of pre-Prohibition era cocktails. The place is comfortable, and yet as mysterious, as the Storyville bordello photographer for which it was named.
Polo Club Lounge
The Windsor Court Hotel
300 Gravier St., 523-6000, WindsorCourtHotel.com/polo-club-lounge
Originally conceived and built to provide overnight accommodations to the crowds attending the 1984 New Orleans World’s Fair, the Windsor Court’s entire theme was to honor the creator’s, James Coleman Jr.’s, devotion to Great Britain. The masculine, elegant Polo Lounge is an example of attention to British upper-class style while featuring excellently crafted cocktails and fine wines by the glass.