Though New Orleans—or Nola—has sprouted up and out in its post-Katrina chapter, travelers often limit Louisiana’s legendary city to the 13 blocks of the French Quarter. Sure, Frenchmen Street might have lured some adventurers across Esplanade, but in years past, little more than Commander’s Palace could woo tourists south of Canal Street. All this to say, I felt a touch hesitant about staying in the Central Business District (CBD), but with a laundry list of must-try restaurants, high concept bars, galleries, and hotels, I was drawn to the downtown neighborhood’s resurgence.
The original warehouse district for the Port of New Orleans, the area and plenty of its nineteenth century buildings survived to experience this recent incarnation. The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery is one such structure. Built in 1854, it stored coffee but later became a chandlery for E.J. Hart & Company, a large wholesaler of shipped goods. Today the reimagined boutique hotel exudes an easy funk with its antique brick interiors, original wood-plank floors, adorable Tout La coffee counter, and hopping restaurant Compère Lapin, whose energy spills warmly into the lobby.
Like each of Provenance Hotels’ ten concepts, art is central at The Old No. 77. A partnership with the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts keeps original work in public spaces as well as in every room. A rotating exhibit located in the hotel’s gallery space showcases local artists and is curated seasonally by the Marigny’s Where Y’Art Gallery.
The hotel’s 165 rooms are distinctly Nola and cleverly described. Only in New Orleans would a windowless room be dubbed a “Sleep Late Retreat,” marketed to night owls with no desire to see the light of day. Premium rooms boast multi-pane, original casement windows, many overlooking the electrified Old No. 77 signage. But for an incredibly posh stay, book an Artist Loft Suite with a massive footprint, mid-mod furnishings, deep leather sofas, exposed brick, stocked bars, and beautiful, ever-rotating paintings and sculpture.
With so much just steps outside the hotel door, it was difficult to imagine dining in, but Chef Nina Compton and her team at Compère Lapin are a force majeure on the CBD dining scene. The Top Chef superstar produces beautiful plates featuring local Gulf ingredients influenced by her Caribbean upbringing—like a seafood pepper pot that you’ll not soon forget and Brussels topped with Caesar crumb. Compton was deemed one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs of 2017, and her aptitude is apparent, with locals clambering for reservations, especially for a rather flawless cocktail brunch.
The Old No.77 Hotel & Chandlery, 535 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans, Louisiana. (504) 527 5271, old77hotel.com