While most visitors to New Orleans want to be in the heart of the city’s dynamic French Quarter, there’s no denying that its boisterous vibe doesn’t appeal to all travelers. Fortunately, there’s a more relaxing option a streetcar ride away in the Garden District. The 18-room Henry Howard Hotel, a historic double-gallery townhouse, was built by the acclaimed architect Henry Howard in 1867 as a mansion for Edward Conery, a steamship owner and ship chandler, that he later bestowed to his two daughters. After years as a rundown inn, the New York-based Fitzgerald Hotel Group modernized the property while maintaining structural elements for its opening in February 2016. Local culture is tastefully celebrated throughout, from snare drums used as coffee tables in the ground floor parlor to the second line brass instruments hanging above beds in each guest room. The designer Lauren Mabry of Hunter Mabry Design pulled inspiration from both the building and the city’s past for a stunning interior overhaul that is both fun and elegant, and unlikely to date itself.
Located in the lower Garden District, only a 10-minute taxi ride from the French Quarter, the hotel sits a block away from St. Charles Street (also known as the Mardi Gras route). The restaurants, bars and antique shops of Magazine Street are a short walk away, as are several of Henry Howard’s other architectural projects that are worth checking out.
Our Queen Superior room was located in the north wing, accessible from an outdoor covered corridor, overlooking a nearby parking lot. It was smartly decorated, with red pine hardwood floor, custom toile wallpaper featuring New Orleans icons like the steamboat and the St. Charles streetcar, an iron bed canopy, a mounted trumpet, vintage chairs done up in a black and white stripe fabric, and oil portraits by the local artist Hayley Gaberlavage. But it was a cramped fit for two people. The dressing table was small but helpful in the absence of a closet large enough to properly store our luggage (there was only hanging storage).
The bathroom was perched on the mezzanine level of our room, which was a nice separation from the main living space, but given its small size, there was limited room to place our toiletries. The standout feature was the goat-milk bath and body products from Beekman 1802.
There is no restaurant on the premises nor a room service menu. Aside from the complimentary breakfast of fresh orange juice, croissants and muffins from the local Laurel Street Bakery that is served on weekends in the downstairs Parlor, you’ll need to dine elsewhere. Fortunately, there areexcellent options nearby, like District Donuts for coffee and breakfast, Joey K’s and Shaya.
The property offers free Wi-Fi, flat screen TVs, localsnacks (Zapp's potato chips, Slow & Low rye whiskey) and useful items like Southern Rhoades bug spray in each room for a charge, plus complimentary coffee from Revelatory Roasters, a local specialty coffee roaster. The hotel has partnered with Franco’s Gym on Magazine Street and City Surf for guests who wish to get in a workout for an extra fee.
The lack of on-site dining aside, there’s no mistaking the appeal of this sharply designed boutique property in a neighborhood that was sorely lacking in quality lodging. But to truly make the most of your stay, book Royal Queen rooms and above for more space and greater comfort.
Henry Howard Hotel, 2041 Prytania Street, New Orleans, 504-313-1577. henryhowardhotel.com.
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