One of the many advantages to living in a highly touristed city like New Orleans is the opportunity it provides for a staycation, particularly during discounted seasons. Whether a person is looking for a few hours away from the kids or something longer than that, the options here are generally plentiful … especially during the oppressive summer months. With those things in mind, my wife booked us as an overnight stay at the Pontchartrain Hotel on St. Charles Avenue.
Right off the streetcar line but a healthy distance from downtown noise and distraction, I could see where this hotel would be an ideal landing spot for folks from out of town as well as locals. Indeed, as we completed the check-in process and headed toward the old-fashioned elevator, I overheard multiple conversations revealing just as much: this is a good spot for everyone.
The gorgeous, yet economically spaced lobby connects guests with the Silver Whistle Café (a blast from the past breakfast diner), the extremely posh Caribbean Room (a John Besh and Chris Lusk collaboration), the great Bayou Bar, where patrons can dine on some of the Caribbean Room’s fare in a more leisurely environment, and two unique elevators. One is reserved for hotel guests; the other takes customers straight to the fabulous rooftop bar, Hot Tin.
We headed straight for our room to deposit our luggage before exploring the various dining options. The room had an extremely vintage feel about it, with a few modern touches sprinkled in (such as the NOLA beer the hotel had provided to commemorate my wife’s and my anniversary).
From there it was up to the rooftop bar, which provides a spectacular view of the New Orleans skyline, trendy retro furnishings, delicious mixed drinks, and perhaps some of the best people watching you’ll find in the city. We played a game: Try to guess who was local, and moreover, who was old money.
Regardless of that fun diversion, the view from the balcony really was quite spectacular. I would recommend this excursion to anyone for this feature alone … along with a drink of course. I went with the Moscow Mule, and it did not disappoint.
Our next stop was back down in the Bayou Bar. We didn’t at that point have the hunger to necessitate a full sit-down experience, nor the patience for it either, so we elected to skip the Caribbean Room. We preferred to snack and have another drink instead.
What’s great about this is a person can still get the hotel’s signature dish this way, the “mile high ice cream pie.” We couldn’t resist, after going for a tasty order of fries to start things off. Once again, we left satisfied. And while the views down here were less extraordinary than in Hot Tin, the food made up the difference.
Certainly, budget is going to dictate what a person ultimately decides to experience here. The best part is that there are choices for most any price point. We declined to partake in the Caribbean Room, and we weren’t interested in sticking around for breakfast the next morning, so our experience included the hotel stay, the rooftop bar, and the pub. One could easily get a different experience by mixing and matching from those options, or if one really wants to be price conscious, to simply go into budget mode and order water or other cheap offerings while taking in the amazing views.
Regardless, the Pontchartrain Hotel is a welcome addition to the New Orleans nightlife scene and a fantastic option for those thinking about doing a staycation.
David Gladow is a Digital Content Supervising Producer for the Southern Weekend and a resident of New Orleans.