Hotel Monteleone, New Orleans Review – Literary Luxury in the French Quarter

(New Orleans, LA) April 20, 2009 - When you enter the lobby and walk though this magnificent hotel, it’s unlikely you’ll bump into any of the literary icons that are so much a part of its history. That’s because they’re all dead! But not the Hotel Monteleone. To the contrary, it is alive and burgeoning with a vitality that belies its 100 years of providing first-rate lodging to the masters and misfits that are an integral part of New Orleans history.

The Hotel Monteleone is one of only three hotels in the U.S. that has been designated a literary landmark. Granted by the Friends of the Library Association, only The Plaza and The Algonquin in New York share this designation.

At the Monteleone, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway and Eudora Welty are not just names on the doors. Each famously-named suite bears the moniker of the author that had a significant relationship with the hotel. To find out more, you must take the audio self-tour that describes the colorful history of this lovely hostelry. It’s free and well worth the price!

We spent two nights in the Ernest Hemingway Penthouse Suite which was appointed with the most comfortable antique furnishings, high ceilings, Jacuzzi, wi-fi, CD player and flat-screen TVs.  French doors open out to the patio and the magnificent rooftop deck, bar and swimming pool.

With its remarkable views of the city, we weren’t surprised to learn that this rooftop haven was a famous spot for glitzy parties in the 1950’s and 1960’s with celebs like Louis Prima & Keely Smith, Liberace, and Elvis Presley. Luckily, you can still have your very own party here in 2009.

We were in New Orleans on New Years Eve, which in the French Quarter is sheer chaos… of the fun kind.  Then again, almost any night in the French Quarter can feel like New Years Eve.  Outdoing New York’s Time Square, revelers are permitted to walk along Bourbon Street imbibing their alcoholic beverage of choice.  There are many restaurants, bars, music clubs (most with no cover), and thousands of hearty partiers trolling the streets. 

The Monteleone is only a block away from the fray on Bourbon Street, making it close enough to walk everywhere, but out of the center of the night-time revelry.  Outside, the French Quarter may be bubbling over with tourists in various states of excitement and intoxication. Inside, the Hotel Monteleone is tranquil and sober, with a genteel mix of Southern charm and devilishness.

You don’t need to leave the hotel for an authentic feel of the New Orleans of the past. Just take a seat at the legendary Carousel Piano Bar and Lounge. You’re as likely to find yourself next to a famous celebrity as a local character with some inside diss on the City. By the way, if you’re feeling woozy, it’s not the booze; it’s the bar, which rotates one revolution every 15 minutes. An architectural gem, study each detail, especially the hand carved and painted chair backs.

Hop off the Carousel and head for the first-class Hunt Room Grill for a superbly prepared meal in traditional New Orleans style or Le Café for lighter fare. Not to be missed is their Breakfast Buffet. We celebrated our 13th anniversary breakfast here and were treated royally by Demetrius, whose life in NOLA is book-worthy itself.

Tasting everything, our most highly-rated dish was the Grillades (GREE-yahds). Pork (or beef or lamb) combined with sautéed vegetables in a slow-cooked beef stock. Of questionable Bayou origins, it is typically served over grits or rice. Not controversial is its place on breakfast tables in both modest homes and fancy restaurants in New Orleans. After two hours luxuriating on their delicacies, we rolled out of Le Cafe to walk it off, window-shopping along Royal Street.

The Hotel Monteleone is owned and operated by the 5th generation of Monteleone heirs whose mission is to make their guests supremely comfortable and happy. That’s a chore for most hotels these days in an industry dominated by huge chains and cold efficiency experts. We loved the warmth and graciousness that characterizes this elegant hotel.

There are many hotels in NOLA. If all you need is a room to rest your head, they’re easy to find. Very few are memorable, and even fewer have the charm, goodwill or lineage of the Hotel Monteleone, itself a historic destination, elegant refuge and frequent movie set location. You’ll find yourself seduced by its allure, not wanting to leave. We sure didn’t.

214 Rue Royale
New Orleans, LA 70130-2201

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