Buzzy, urbane and elegantly rough round the edges, The Old No 77 Hotel & Chandlery is as plucky as the city it calls home. Right in the heart of New Orleans’ revitalised Arts District, this spruced-up warehouse has quickly established itself as a local hero. Its brick-and-concrete decor makes a stylish backdrop for a contemporary art collection, its loft-inspired rooms are cosy tweed-and-hardwood retreats, and Compère Lapin – its Caribbean-Mediterranean eatery – tops the must-visit list for every foodie in town.
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Tout La token for one coffee or tea a day, for each guest, from the hotel's coffee bar
Noon. Earliest check-in, 4pm. Late check-out until 3pm can be arranged for $10 an hour.
Double rooms from £126.15 ($157), including tax at 16.2 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional room tax of $1.00 per room per night on check-out.
Rates don’t include the à la carte breakfast. The kitchen serves grab-and-go options such as pastries and yoghurts as well as hearty brunches (biscuits and gravy, French toast, tuna tartare bagel; $5–$15).
The hotel’s dedication to promoting local talent is second-to-none: it hosts rotating exhibits by students from the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts; an old cigarette machine has been converted to distribute packet-sized $5 art; Where Y’Art hangs pieces from its gallery on Royal Street in Marigny in the hallway space beyond the lobby.
At the hotel
Gym, gallery, boutique, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, air-conditioning, minibar, Terra Pure toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
Dressed with exposed brick walls, polished hardwood floors and upholstered headboards, rooms espouse the neighbourhood’s warehouse-chic aesthetic. Windowless Deluxe rooms are perfect for night owls, but early birds may prefer the Premium King rooms’ floor-to-ceiling windows. Creative types should hole up in Artist Loft Suites, sprawling spaces with a convivial sitting area decked out with pieces curated by a local artists’ collective.
Bring some dancing shoes for joining impromptu street parties, but leave plenty of space in your luggage for something to hang on your walls at home.
The hotel has wheelchair-accessible rooms equipped with larger bathrooms and adapted showers. Stop by the shop for locally-crafted totes, soaps and candles – a nod to the building’s past as a chandlery serving the city’s ships.
Furry friends are welcomed (free of charge) with their own bed, food and water bowls, a toy, treat and custom-made tag with the hotel’s details should they stray from their owners. See more pet-friendly hotels in New Orleans.
Welcome. Under-16s stay free in two-bed Premium and Deluxe double rooms and the Artist Loft Suite. Cots and extra beds can be added to other rooms. The restaurant has highchairs and the team will happily rustle up child-friendly meals.
The hotel takes care to reduce its footprint: it uses energy-saving bulbs, recycles food waste and sources much of its seafood, meat and produce locally. Guests are encouraged to enjoy responsible stays, too, by receiving a $5 minibar credit for every day they skip housekeeping.
Perch at the bar to peek into the kitchen and watch the chefs and cocktail team in full flight.
Embrace the creative vibe with flowing dresses, flamboyant colours and Riviera-inspired tailoring.
Breakfast bar Tout La in the lobby is an in-house pit stop for perfect espressos and freshly baked pastries. Top Chef contestant Nina Compton is at the helm in talk-of-the-town Compère Lapin, a stylish eatery dressed with monochrome tiling, blown-glass lighting and lashings of leather and tweed. The chef’s childhood in St Lucia is the inspiration for both the restaurant’s name (a mischievous folk-tale character) and the Caribbean ingredients that liven up pitch-perfect French and Italian cuisine. The Gulf’s produce is the star of the show here: expect conch croquettes, jalapeño jus and curried goat with plantain gnocchi.
The restaurant’s rabbit theme extends to the tipples poured at the bar: you’ll find the eponymous trickster’s long-eared outline drawn into the cocktails’ frothy tops. Award-winning mixologist Abigail Gullo works wonders with Old New Orleans Rum, a tipple produced by local artist James Michalopoulos, whose work hangs in the hotel. If you’re in the mood for something more off-piste, try the Andromeda, a zesty mix of pisco, chilli-infused vodka, lime, grapefruit and rose. The soundtrack is inspired by what the chefs are rustling up in the kitchen – expect plenty of toe-tapping New Orleans Jazz.
Breakfast is served 7am–10am, lunch 11.30am–2.300pm, dinner and drinks 5.30pm–11pm. Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am-2pm.
Order an in-room feast from the kitchen from 7am to 9.30pm.
The New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal, a five-minute drive away, serves Amtrak trains to LA, Chicago and New York.
The Big Easy’s main sights can easily be explored on foot, and taxis are readily available should you wish to venture further. If you’re bringing your own wheels (to heed the call of the Bayou, say), the hotel has valet parking for $40 a day excluding tax.
The city’s iconic streetcars stop just a couple of blocks from the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Take inspiration from Old No 77’s art-lined walls and hit the neighbourhood for a taste of New Orleans’ vibrant creative scene. Gallery hop on Royal Street – Where Y’Art, the hotel’s curators, have their main gallery space there – or hunt for pre-fame luminaries at NOCCA, Louisiana’s arts conservatory. A French Quarter landmark, Rau Antiques, is worth a visit should you be in the market for impeccably sourced objets d’art or one-of-a-kind jewellery. Equally dizzying is the Old New Orleans Rum distillery, a 20-year-old outfit producing head-turning spirits from the state’s finest sugar cane. Sample tipples scented with nutmeg and allspice, amber-hued spirits and pre-Katrina vintages. Packed with coffee shops, quirky boutiques and Instagram-worthy graffiti, Bywater is worth the streetcar ride if you’re keen to explore further afield.
The menu at rustic-chic Pêche is deceptively pared-down, but don’t let that fool you – this Magazine Street hangout is the best address in town to savour the Gulf’s fresh-off-the-boat bounty. Sample just-shucked oysters, zesty tartare from the raw bar and sustainably harvested fish simply grilled on an open fire. Sister restaurant Cochon is equally concerned with doing one thing and doing it well: smoked ham hock, smoked pork ribs with watermelon pickle and braised pork cheeks with pistachio are on the menu here, in a piggy celebration of flavour-packed Cajun cuisine.
If you’re in the market for some southern comfort food, make the Ruby Slipper Café your first port of call for hearty omelettes, shrimp-and-grits-topped biscuits and bacon-infused Bloody Marys. The beignet market is fiercely competitive in New Orleans; most visitors make at least one pit-stop at Café du Monde for a café au lait and a portion or three of the sinful sugar-dusted snacks.
Home-made syrups and heady spirits are on the menu at Victory, a seductively lit den for cocktail connoisseurs. Late-night haunt Mimi’s has all the bare necessities: pool, cocktails and tapas served until 4am at the weekends.
For my first trip to New Orleans, where I travelled for a friend’s wedding, I kept my expectations loose – an attitude in keeping with the Big Easy’s style.
Luckily, that wedding was on a Friday, which allowed time for a nice long weekend in the South. Mr Smith and I arrived at the Old No 77 and were greeted with customary southern charm. To our pleasant surprise, the wonderful team managed to get us into a room at 11am – a welcome gesture after our 4:30am flight.
Living in New York, I’ve come to expect a typically tiny hotel room; but here our spacious room felt more like an apartment – in fact, the bathroom was almost identical to that in our first apartment, which made me oddly nostalgic.
After unpacking and settling in, we skipped off downstairs and into our car to go enjoy a fine southern lunch at hotly tipped sandwich joint Turkey and the Wolf (recently named the Best New Restaurant in America by Bon Appétit). It was – as forecasted – delicious, but after such a feast we were very much ready for a nap.
Back to the hotel we went. One big advantage to staying so centrally is that you can easily reach almost anywhere in the city. While away, being able to walk from place to place is very important to me – however, I must admit that due to the 90-degree heat and how well fed we were (a common theme of the weekend) we abandoned walking home. Back in the room, I jumped in the shower, wrapped myself in a robe, and took a snooze in our super-soft bed before getting ready to attend our friend’s nuptials that evening.
After a quick drink at the hotel’s bar, we were reawakened and ready for a Louisiana celebration. Our bartender was a real charmer and incredibly attentive – two delicious drinks arrived in a snap; a real plus given our pre-party rush. After a short ceremony and traditional second-line parade (a brass-band-led celebration and a New Orleans wedding must), it was a treat to be able to simply walk back to the hotel when we were ready to call it a night. A few of our friends opted to continue the revelry on Bourbon Street, but we were happy to stroll back to the Old No 77 and crash. After all, there was a lot to see (and eat) the next day.
Feeling well rested, we grabbed a morning brew and some beignets downstairs at Tout La, the coffee and pastry bar in the hotel’s lobby. Beignets turned into brunch, taken down the street at seafood restaurant Pêche, before deciding to walk off our indulgences. We leisurely strolled to the Garden District to admire the beauty and charm of its southern-style cottages and mansions. True to its name, the ‘hood is dazzlingly green and rather dreamy: Bird of paradise plants wrap around second-story porches and front lawns are shaded by shaggy palms.
After a long walk and a little shopping, we slung our new vintage rug into our car and drove off to meet friends at Bacchanal Wine: a shop with a big backyard where you can break open those bottles, indulge in a cheese plate (or two) and listen to some laidback live music. We spent the afternoon sipping rosé, catching up, and tuning into the bluesy music.
When we finally made our way back to the hotel, it was time for another snooze – there is something truly sleepy about the South – before heading off to dinner in the famous French Quarter. Tonight, dinner was only a 20-minute walk away, so we got to experience a bit more of the Big Easy’s hustle and bustle. After a meal of gumbo and Etouffée (seafood or chicken smothered in a roux sauce) at Café Sbisa, we stumbled into a bar on Frenchmen street in search of more live music.
After a lively night on the town, we were thankful that our return flight was in the afternoon. We slept in, enjoying the noon check-out (standard at the Old No 77), and grabbed a final order of fresh biscuits before heading to the airport.
Staying true to the themes of the weekend – good music, southern charm, a lot of good food – we grab a final-final order of fresh biscuits for the journey. I may be satisfyingly full, but I haven’t had my fill of New Orleans. I’ll be back, very soon.
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