Just as New Orleans weathered the assaults of Hurricane Ida in 2021 and Katrina in 2005, the pandemic hasn’t put a damper on the city’s indomitable spirit. On our recent trip, we found that the famous restaurant and live music scenes remain intact (though staffing shortages often resulted in reduced business hours). And as always seems to happen in the Big Easy, we ate too much and stayed up too late and absolutely loved it.
Travelers also come to New Orleans to absorb its atmosphere of decaying grandeur. The French Quarter, a unique amalgam of old European and Caribbean architecture, still feels transported from centuries past. Gas lamps flicker alongside many doorways, making a nighttime walk in the quieter corners feel like time travel. The historic center boasts a high concentration of classic dining and jazz venues — in addition to the bars of notoriously raucous Bourbon Street — but many of the most exciting new businesses to open are elsewhere. On this trip, we spent much of our time in surrounding neighborhoods such as the Warehouse and Garden districts.
Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans
Dining and nightlife aside, the main reason for my return to New Orleans was to evaluate four new luxury hotels. The splashiest opening was that of the 341-room Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans, occupying the 33-story former World Trade Center building. The white riverfront tower, dating from 1968, does not rank among the city’s architectural jewels, which is all the more reason to commend Four Seasons for its renovation: The public spaces feel fresh and luxe.