Worth getting out of bed for
Spend time touring historical landmarks along Chartes Street, just five-minutes away on foot: The Presbytere, aka New Orleans’ Mardi Gras museum, built in 1791 and The Cabildo, which was completed in 1799 (lsm.crt.state.la.us). The St Louis Cathedral is the oldest working one of its kind in the US (stlouiscathedral.org). Take in Jackson Square, across from the cathedral. Artists line the green recreating the scene on canvas and there are plenty of clothing shops to peruse (www.jackson-square.com). Built in 1835, the Old US Mint at 400 Esplanade Avenue is a Greek Revival edifice worthy of a stroll-by (lsm.crt.state.la.us). Take little ones to the Audubon Nature Institute to visit the zoo, learn about swamp critters and study creepy-crawlies at the Insectarium (+1 800 774 7394; www.auduboninstitute.org). Pick up Mardi Gras-approved eyewear at Maskarade, five minutes from the hotel. Now the hard part: deciding whether to go for a demure or full-tilt feather-lined mask (www.frenchquartermaskstore.com). Celebrate the vampy lore of Nola with a trip to Boutique du Vampyre at 633 Toulouse (+1 504 561 8267; www.feelthebite.com). Have a ‘haunted’ portrait made, admire the art gallery and pick up some Creole mustard.
Sip fine wines and sample the tasting menu of Canadian lobster, black truffles and beef tenderloin at Tennessee Williams-homage Stella! one minute from Soniat House (+1 504 587 0091; www.restaurantstella.com). Just a two-minute walk away, Palm Court Jazz Café offers local flavour in the form of red beans and rice, flash-fried crawfish tails and the Creole pasta tossed with sausage, chicken, shrimp and oysters (+1 504 525 0200; www.palmcourtjazzcafe.com). With back-talking bartenders and potent cocktails (try the Sazerac), Coop’s Place on Decatur in the French Quarter is a local favourite. It serves some of the best Cajun food in the city, including rabbit and sausage jambalaya and seafood gumbo (+1 504 525 9053; www.coopsplace.net). For linen-table dining try the Italian Barrel on Barracks Street, three blocks away. Fresh sandwiches, pastas imported from Italy and delectable antipasti plates are on the menu (+1 504 569 0198; www.italianbarrel.com).
Edging the French Quarter, Bar Tonique takes cocktails seriously. Rare liquors and bitters, freshly squeezed fruit juices and tinctures are employed to create their heady, old-school concoctions (+1504 324 6045; www.bartonique.com). Grab a brew and check out nightly live music at dba a five-minute walk from Soniat House, in Faubourg Marigny. Greats such as Jimmy Buffet and Stevie Wonder have graced the stage (+1 504 942 3731; dbabars.com/dbano).
Organic, hippie-tinged Satsuma Café at 3218 Dauphine Street in the Bywater neighbourhood, less than 10 minutes’ walk from the hotel, serves freshly squeezed juices, banana-Nutella pancakes and fresh salads (+1 504 304 5962). Piping-hot beignets and creamy café au laits are on the menu at Café Du Monde, just two blocks away (+1 800 772 2927; www.cafedumonde.com)
One-Eyed Jacks’ expansive theatre-turned-club in the French Quarter features spicy burlesque shows by resident troupe Fleur de Tease and a roster of rocking musical groups (+1 504 569 8361; www.oneeyedjacks.net). Less than 10 minutes from the hotel, Preservation Hall at 726 St Peter Street is worth a visit. With a brassy house band and a rousing roster of veteran talent, this 18th-century house gets packed fast. Arrive early to avoid sitting on the floor (+1 504 522 2841; preservationhall.com).
March Mardi Gras parades snake through the city. Show up the weekend before the final week to be part of the locals’ less -frenetic festivities. Late April–early May The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Fest Festival features a killer line-up of musicians, artisans and New Orleans cuisine. (www.nojazzfest.com) June Vieux to Do Festival is three times the party: Creole Tomato Festival (www.frenchmarket.org), Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Music Festival (www.jazzandheritage.org) and the New Orleans Seafood Festival (+1 504 558 6100). October Watch flicks from up-and-coming and seasoned filmmakers during the New Orleans Film Festival (neworleansfilmsociety.org).
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Smith extra at Soniat House
A copy of La Bouche Creole cookbook by Leon Soniat
From the Guestbook…
The Soniat Hotel was a historic gem in an otherwise rainy New Orleans We stayed in Room 28 which was a spacious suite with a balcony overlooking a quiet block on Chartres Street Th...more