On a recent trip to New Orleans, naturally, I needed a place to stay. New Orleans has plenty of hotels. Some are really nice, including the somewhat recently renovated Roosevelt. But the Crescent City has never had a true boutique hotel, in the style not of a fussy, B&B but a la maniére Ace. That changed when The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery opened earlier this year.
For years, the Chandlery, a beautiful brick three-story building in the bustling Warehouse District, was a wholesale goods store for wary travelers, or chandlery. Then, for a while it lived as The Ambassador Hotel, a sort of bland property. But after it was bought by Portland, Ore.-based Provenance Hotels, the 167 rooms and charming lobby now bear that unmistakable hipster vibe that, for me, is like home anywhere. (I'll be the first to admit that to me, this vibe mostly means free wifi, really good coffee, and hardwood floors.)
So there's that. But there are also exposed brick walls—which I never thought I'd care about until I lived in a house without them—high ceilings (ditto) and paintings from local artists on the wall. (Some are better than others.) Downstairs Nina Compton, a Top Chef contestant from St. Lucia, makes good with Compère Lapin, a buzzy Caribbean/Creole joint that fits nicely into the New Orleans dining firmament. (When I went to a Friends and Family meal, Alon Shaya was sitting at the bar. He runs one of NOLA's best restaurants, Shaya.)
Anyway, look. I guess this is the takeaway: New Orleans is too often a tourist trap. Even if you don't spend your days on Bourbon Street, it used to be that wherever you stayed was steeped either in convention center carpeting or a quaint aesthetic which, though lovely, just isn't relevant. Now, ironically at a place called The Old No. 77, new has come to New Orleans.