The name alone reveals Hôtel Peter and Paul’s past as the former Saints Peter and Paul Catholic church, a parish formed in 1848 in New Orleans’ now-gentrified old Creole neighbourhood of the Marigny. Fresh from a $20 million renovation by archi-stars Ash NYC, the former church, schoolhouse, rectory and convent have been cleverly corralled into a pastorally-inspired hotel and community space that now gives praise to a suite of somewhat more hedonistic demigods. Decorated with rich antique furnishings throughout and with a multi award-winning bar and restaurant, it’s an apt place to pause for reflection and thanks – or perhaps the odd night of cocktail-fuelled sin.
Check-in from 3pm, check-out at 11am. The hotel will try to accommodate requests outside of these times but an extra charge may be levied during peak periods, and luggage can be stored at reception.
Double rooms from £133.75 ($161), including tax at 16.2 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of $0.50 per room per night on check-out.
Breakfast is not included. When not in use for dining, the church can be hired for weddings, parties and community events.
The site is steeped in history, from the splendid Henry Howard-designed buildings to the school’s appearance in A Confederacy of Dunces, and its author’s (possibly apocryphal) three-person funeral in the church. The original schoolhouse stage and auditorium remains and has been converted to a guest lounge, and the stage’s backdrop mural was painted by local artist Ann Marie Auricchio, depicting a set from the school’s first production in 1900. There are four chameleon-like doors in the mural that lead to a quartet of hidden backstage guest rooms.
At the hotel
Coffee shop, ice-cream parlour, outdoor courtyard, stage lounge, working spaces, large converted church available for events and weddings, and guest passes ($10 each) for a nearby gym. In rooms: Free WiFi, air-conditioning, Italian Bellino linens, spacious showers, bespoke bath products and a flatscreen TV. Some rooms have a claw-foot bath tub too.
Our favourite rooms
With its luxuriant Venetian red tones, a dramatic canopy bed, and an in-room limestone bath tub placed evocatively under a hanging antique chandelier, the Rector’s Repose is surely sending a wry grin to the room’s historic 19th-century inhabitant. Although you may want to spin around the small hanging portrait of the Messiah, lest you suffer his Pharisaic gaze. Mr Smith also has a penchant for the seven Convent rooms, purely because they share a roof with an ice-cream parlour called Sundae Best.
No spa onsite, but you can get guest passes for a local gym at reception for $10. And, yoga classes are sometimes held in the church.
New Orleans is famously nonjudgmental, and that carefree attitude extends throughout Hôtel Peter and Paul, so don’t forget your sequinned short-shorts for Mardi Gras.
For disabled access, the ground floors of all buildings are ADA accessible, and there are seven specially adapted rooms.
Baby cots can be put into rooms at no additional cost. Duplex rooms have a day-bed that turns into a small child’s bed. Some rooms can be connected, one of these is equipped with bunk-beds for larger families. Babysitting can be arranged.
Babies and toddlers will fit into most rooms with comfort.
Selected rooms can be connected, and the School House Bunk is equipped with bunk-beds for larger families. Contact the hotel reception for recommendations based on your specific group size.
Highchairs and children’s cutlery are available on request.
Reception can recommend a local babysitter, who works independently of the hotel.
No need to pack
Small fold-out baby cots are available from reception.
Hôtel Peter and Paul use suppliers from their Marigny ‘hood, especially in the kitchen.
On a bright day, an ethereal glow from the church’s stained-glass windows is cast across the courtyard’s tables, creating a heavenly atmosphere.
No need to wear your Sunday best, here in The Big Easy, the only guidance around clothing is to make sure you’re at least wearing something in the restaurant…
True to the welcoming spirit of its religious past, Hôtel Peter and Paul’s restaurant, the Elysian Bar, is less hotel eatery and more a community space. It’s a collaboration with another legendary Marigny haunt, the James Beard Award-nominated Bacchanal Wine Bar, but created as a more upscale drinking and dining option to Bacchanal’s shoes-off cosiness. There’s live music every night, and you’ll find party-starter cocktails such as the Mexican Firing Squad (tequila, pomegranate, lime, soda), spritzes, and an extensive brunch and dinner menu. The spaces in which to enjoy your meal are nearly as comprehensive as the menu itself: the dainty former parlours, inside a little glass atrium, packed into the minute eight-stool ‘jewel box’ bar, or the outdoor courtyard, ringed by the church bell-towers. The church itself, with its towering columns reaching ever upwards to vaulted frescoes and with sublime red, green and yellow light beaming in through the stained-glass windows, is available for dining when it isn’t in use for a wedding, function, art exhibition, yoga class, or town hall community meeting. Coffee and pastries are served fresh in the mornings from the adjoining Side Chapel Café, and the Convent houses an ice-cream parlour called Sundae Best.
Frequented by guests and locals alike, the Elysian Bar was recently included in Esquire’s 2021 shortlist of America’s best bars, and also has accolades from the likes of Time and Condé Nast Traveller. The murals on the walls of the tiny eight-seat jewel-box bar depict Louisiana’s bald cypress, and the booze list begins with breezy aperitivo cocktails and slides right through to hard liquor. It’s the St Charles Punch for us (with brandy, port, lemon and sugar).
From Wednesday to Monday, food is served from 5pm to 10pm; brunch is served Friday to Sunday from 11am to 3pm.
Hôtel Peter and Paul is situated in the heart of New Orleans’ modish Faubourg Marigny district, downriver from the illustrious French Quarter.
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is 16 miles by car and takes half an hour. The hotel can arrange transfers on request, but car rentals, airport shuttles, public bus routes, taxis and ride-sharing connections are all available too.
Follow in the footsteps of mythical bluesmen like Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters by riding the Amtrak cross-country. The line bisects the USA from Chicago, through Memphis and Jackson, to New Orleans, finishing just over two miles from Hôtel Peter and Paul.
New Orleans is well connected by the Interstate road network, and is the perfect jumping-off point for a Deep South road trip. The hotel offers secure gated parking for $10.30 a night.
Catch a mule-pulled carriage from the nearby French Quarter to Hôtel Peter and Paul.
Worth getting out of bed for
Like the warmth of its Southern hospitality, the flavours captured in its cuisine and the meaning hidden deep within its music, there’s a whole lot more to New Orleans than surface-level Bourbon Street may suggest.
Nestled in the Marigny, a former plantation developed into housing by politician Bernard de Marigny in the 19th century, Hôtel Peter and Paul is at the epicentre of the true New Orleans, if there ever was or is such a thing. Initially home to Creole settlers, it’s a charming ex-working-class neighbourhood that has undergone its fair share of gentrification yet retains a strong sense of community. You’re just as likely to bump into your restaurant server at their favourite joint as you are another tourist. With its swaying palm trees and photogenic pastel hues, the Marigny makes for an intriguing wander as you hop its numerous coffee shops and bars. You’ll want to earmark a night in the buzzing jazz clubs of nearby Frenchmen Street, where the improv spills out onto the pavement until the early morning light begins to show.
Even in the daytime, New Orleans is really about the nighttime, so head to Vintage Voyage to ensure your wardrobe is ready. Here you’ll find wigs, costumes and profusions of sequinned clothing, perfect for an off-the-sparkly-cuff drag show or your Mardi Gras debut, should you be in town in February.
Studio Be is a warehouse space turned gallery that showcases the best of New Orleans street art, graffiti and performance art, and the Louisiana Music Factory is an old-school record store stacked with vinyl to keep the New Orleans beat flowing long after you depart.
If there’s one thing the Marigny isn’t short of, it’s bangin’ food, so you’ll have no trouble finding something memorable to savour over every meal. Hôtel Peter and Paul collaborated with the proprietors of their own personal favourite dive, Bacchanal Wine Bar, on their in-house Elysian Bar restaurant, so you can bet it’s worth your time too. Bacchanal is self-billed as ‘Nola’s Backyard Party’ – you get patio furniture and string lighting over gravel floors in a big backyard, but with live music, a Med-inspired tapas and pintxos menu and a well-stocked wine shop, it’s a good time guaranteed. For a communal multi-course tasting menu that nods to the history of bayou cuisine, pre-book a seating at Mosquito Supper Club. Set in a creaking old weatherboard house, there’s a great sense of true Southern hospitality and service as chef Melissa Martin serves the fast-disappearing traditional Cajun cuisine learnt from her grandmother. With such a rich Creole heritage in the Marigny, head to Neyow’s to indulge in their chargrilled gulf shrimp, served with a trademark Big Easy attitude.
If there’s one thing in ample supply in New Orleans, it’s nightlife. It feels like every New Orleanian has their own preferred bar, but if you’re asking us, we’d head for cocktails at Jewel of the South. Their ‘cocktail hour’ is the consummate way to kick-start an evening, and there’s a menu of small plates and truffle chicken if you’d prefer to settle in. Housed in a 19th-century bank building, Anna’s has a dive-bar feel, and its no-nonsense drinks list differs depending on which floor you’re on. Downstairs is punctuated by a listing of beer and shot pairings, upstairs offers an extensive vermouth menu, in addition to cocktails, wines and beers on both.
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 church complex turned sanctuary in New Orleans and have unpacked their sequinned shirts and wigs, a full account of their melodious break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Hôtel Peter and Paul in New Orleans…
We first knew that Hôtel Peter and Paul was going to be a different experience when we hopped in the cab at the airport, and gave directions to the driver, who told us: ‘I know where that is, my Grandmother went to school there…’
The ensuing conversation unearthed a tale told all over the United States (except with a happy ending), about formerly thriving church communities dissipating into the suburban creep, leaving once-proud monuments to crumble into disuse and dereliction. But, this one was saved in the nick of time, and while it’s no longer a part of the Catholic church, it remains a pillar of the Marigny community as a hub for local events.
I’m told that a staggering $20 million dollars was spent on the renovation of the former Saints Peter and Paul Catholic church, but developers Ash NYC haven’t plastered over the history and heritage of this grand old dame. The paint on the wooden doors is peeling and lifting, and the elegant wooden staircases have an authentic creak as we ascend to our second-floor room in the Schoolhouse. The original cypress-wood mouldings have been saved, as have the wainscoted corridors, original marble fireplaces and the magnificent stained-glass windows in the church.
The ecclesiastical theme is pared down by a vast collection of antique furniture, textiles and artwork sourced on a buying trip to Europe, with colour palettes pulled from religious paintings and tapestries of the 14th to 18th centuries. The resulting atmosphere pays homage to the building’s past, with a knowing wink to New Orleans’ present debaucherous tendencies.
On our first night we don’t make it past the jazz clubs of nearby Frenchmen Street, in fact, such is the depth of the Marigny that we never actually make it across to the touristic French Quarter during our three-night stay. Mornings are spent lazily snoozing, afternoons are invested in wandering the neighbourhood, hunting out off-the-radar bars that stretch from shoes-off cosy, to bayou-chic, to all-out hipper-than-thou cool. And the nighttime passes in as classic a New Orleans style as our mired-in-history stay.