A leisurely stroll from the bustle of the French Quarter, boutique hotel Catahoula is a New Orleans stay for unrepentant bons vivants. A cleverly renovated 1845 Creole townhouse, this downtown address has made the most of its quirky layout, exposed brick walls and 19th-century windows. Guests gather in the tropical courtyard café and on the breeze-kissed rooftop terrace for a taste of the Chinese kitchen’s spicy udon and smokey bao and tantalising cocktails – a Big Easy take on the gentle rhythm of south-American life.
Simply dressed with polished floors, crisp cotton sheets and imposing cypress headboards, rooms at Catahoula have playfully preserved the townhouse’s rich, photogenic history. Book a snug Guest Room if you’re planning on being out and about; for a more leisurely stay opt for one of the Premier Rooms with a small balcony. The loft-like Master Room has its own little bar, an open-plan seating area with a cosy Chesterfield sofa and a large shower for sudsing up à deux.
Bring shades and an old-school fan for the hot and humid summer months; earplugs and eye masks if you’re visiting during Mardi Gras.
One Classic Room has been adapted for wheelchair users, who also have access to the rooftop bar in the hotel’s lift. Nights can get a bit noisy during Mardi Gras: The Union Street windows are 19th-century originals.
Grab a seat at the bar for a front-row look at the bartenders’ medicinal machinations.
Get inspired by the hotel’s south-American vibe with tropical-print blouses, rolled-up chinos and colourful brogues.
Zhuzhed up with checkerboard tiles, wooden bar stools and masses of tropical foliage, Midnight Noodle serves plant-based Chinese comfort food. Dreamt up by New Orleanian native Melvin Stovall, the menu is inspired by Thai, Sichuan and Shanghainese cuisine. Order plates of scallion pancakes drizzled with sweet soy, tofu-filled bao and spicy potstickers.
No prizes for guessing Piscobar’s specialty: this relaxed watering hole takes great pride in its menu of classic cocktails perked up by the addition of the sweet, earthy spirit. Sip on a Matcha Picchu, a green-tea riff on a frothy pisco sour, or the martini-like d’Artagnan. Decked out with cacti, fairy lights and a cedarwood pergola, the Rooftop Bar is a sociable spot to sample a bottle of wine or Tiki-inspired tipples with friends; the sunloungers, downtown views and long spells of sunshine aren’t bad, either. Graze on tempting bar snacks (potstickers and smokey bao) or order from the restaurant downstairs during opening hours.
The kitchen is open Wednesday to Saturday from 5pm to 9pm (10pm on Friday and Saturday nights). Order tipples on the rooftop until 10pm and at Piscobar until midnight.
The New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal, a 10-minute drive away, serves Amtrak trains to LA, Chicago and New York.
You won’t need a car to explore New Orleans’ bustling city centre, and taxis are readily available for longer journeys. If you’re bringing your own wheels, there’s a public car park on the same block as the hotel (from $20 for 24 hours); drop your bags off at Catahoula first.
Worth getting out of bed for
It would be tempting to set up camp with a pack of cards and a tall glass of something chilled in Catahoula’s delightful shaded courtyard, but the Big Easy awaits. The French Quarter’s Jazz-filled streets, genteel architecture and buzzing nightlife are just three blocks away; stroll down to St Charles Avenue and hop on a streetcar heading uptown for a browse around Magazine Street’s boutiques and a stroll through Audubon Park’s stately oak-shaded pathways (there’s a zoo and a golf course there, too, should you be in the market for more outdoor entertainment). A 15-minute walk away, the Warehouse District is home to a vibrant creative scene (try Julia Street for a spot of gallery-hopping) and the National World War II Museum for history buffs. Staff will happily arrange plantation visits and swamp tours – just drop by the front desk if you’re keen to explore further afield.
Pared-down but inviting, shutter-sheltered Balise celebrates New Orleans’ culinary traditions. Produce is sourced around the Mississippi River Delta and rustled up in tastebud-tingling dishes such as roasted beets with sheep’s milk ricotta and slow-braised pork shank. Book ahead for a table at talk-of-the-town Compère Lapin in Smith favourite Old No 77 Hotel & Chandlery: the Caribbean-inspired Mediterranean fare (curried goat, conch croquettes) is not to be missed. Osteria Josephine Estelle is equally alluring; its plump banquettes and hand-painted foliage are as enticing as the southern twist the chefs give its famed Italian cuisine.
If this is your first time in Nola, don’t miss a pilgrimage to Café du Monde for piping-hot beignets and creamy café au lait. The Ruby Slipper Café is another favourite: sample wholesome omelettes, Bloody Marys done right and brunchy biscuits. If you’re exploring Bywater, local favourite Satsuma Café is equal parts hippie and hipster: drop in for freshly squeezed juices, indulgent pancakes and fresh salads.
A show-stopping fancy of a watering hole, The Carousel Bar & Lounge is a drinking den masquerading as a revolving 1930s merry-go-round. Go for the Instagram candy, stay for the impeccable cocktails. You’d be remiss for not dropping in on Victory just around the corner: this sultry bar’s home-made syrups and innovative mixologists are a heaven-made match.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this boutique hotel in the Central Business District and unpacked their tubas and dancing shoes, a full account of their city break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Catahoula in New Orleans…
You’ll find no silver service or starched uniforms here: laid-back by design and resolutely unstuffy, Catahoula hotel is a breath of fresh air in New Orleans’ on-the-up Central Business District. Painted a confident, eye-catching shade of Prussian blue, this improbably preserved 1845 Creole townhouse cuts a quirky figure among the staid, imposing façades of the neighbourhood. Its interiors are just as charming: tropical courtyards, winding staircases, arches, balconies and terraces are dressed with vintage furniture, monochrome tiles and an elegant palette of muted greys, natural browns and refreshing whites. Influenced by the zest and flavours of Peruvian cuisine, the kitchen rustles up moreish small plates to wolf down – at a courtyard table or on the intimate rooftop terrace – alongside a glass or three of the Big Easy’s most in-demand pisco-based libations.
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