Written by { Misty Milioto

As many will attest, New Orleans has a certain magnetism—perhaps it’s even a bit animalistic on Bourbon Street—and the soul and warmth of the city, its food and its people are captivating. Today, the city is as intriguing as ever, thanks to a bevy of new hotel developments and improvements, world-class restaurants, music venues and bars, art galleries and more. A new $1 billion airport terminal with three concourses recently opened with several new direct flights to and from cities including Denver, Austin, Louisville and Philadelphia.

Where to Stay

The recently opened Maison de la Luz is a distinctive guest house from Atelier Ace—designed in partnership with the acclaimed Studio Shamshiri, with architectural renovation by EskewDumezRipple—that offers a bespoke experience. The six-story hotel features 67 resplendent guest rooms, guest-only access to a private breakfast room, living room and dining room, and dedicated concierge. Silk-tasseled room keys, hand-embroidered linens, sculptural snake shower handles and refined custom tile work enhance the nuanced interiors. Maison de la Luz also is home to Bar Marilou, which has a separate entrance from the hotel and a private speakeasy within. Located in the former law library of the old City Hall Annex, the bar pays tribute to its history with an extensive, curated selection of books ranging in genre and edition. It’s the first U.S. venture for venerated French hospitality group Quixotic Projects, which is known for acclaimed Parisian venues such as Candelaria, Le Mary Celeste, Les Grand Verres, Glass and Hero. Expect refined French touches paired with classic cocktails, flavorful small plates and a bit of mischief. Rooms from $389 per night, 546 Carondelet St., maisondelaluz.com, barmarilou.com

Bar Marilou at Maison de la Luz

Meanwhile, the historic Le Pavillon Hotel—a AAA Four Diamond hotel located in the heart of the Central Business District—has recently undergone a lavish renovation. Historically known as the Belle of New Orleans, the glamorous hotel holds a large collection of antiques and features a rooftop pool. Le Pavillon beckons with a towering, ivory exterior accentuated by two 15-foot limestone statues greeting guests through the porte-cochere. The renovated lobby now provides a sense of arrival with elegant blue and gray hues paired with bold colors, and brass and crystal embellishments. The large-scale refresh follows the transformation of Le Pavillon Hotel’s 226 guest rooms and seven signature suites. Each suite is named after and designed around well-known New Orleans streets. For example, the Napoleon Suite features prized artwork and antique furnishings, intricate stained glass and a bathroom with one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s Carrera marble bathtubs; polished green marble counters, walls and flooring; golden sinks; a dual head walk-in shower; and a bidet. The Frenchmen Suite, meanwhile, is reminiscent of New Orleans’ iconic music scene. It boasts a baby grand piano and mounted saxophone; album covers from jazz artists such as the Neville Brothers, Harry Connick Jr. and Jelly Roll Morton; and original sheet music as decor. The hotel’s transformation also includes the addition of a new French restaurant, Bijoux, and the reinvention of the lobby bar, Cachette 1907, featuring hand-crafted, specialty cocktails and a vintage Brunswick mahogany bar surrounded by a railing from the Grand Hotel in Paris. Rooms from $2,000 per night, 833 Poydras St., 504.581.3111, lepavillon.com


Le Pavillion

Historic Uptown is in for a treat with the opening of Hotel Chloe later this year. The boutique hotel will feature 14 rooms, including two suites, a restaurant with an adjoining lobby bar, a pool bar and intimate gardens throughout. Housed in a historic Queen Anne-style mansion, which was built as a private home in 1891, Hotel Chloe will have 13-foot ceilings, hardwood floors and original fireplaces. With interior design by Sara Ruffin Costello, the well-appointed guest rooms will feature custom-designed and antique furniture, luxury bedding, flat screen televisions, a locally sourced minibar, walk-in showers and clawfoot tubs, and custom bath and body products. This is the first hotel project by hospitality group LeBLANC+SMITH (the team behind notable New Orleans restaurants Sylvain, Meauxbar, Cavan and Longway Tavern), so the food and beverage program—helmed by acclaimed New Orleans Chef Todd Pulsinelli—is sure to be top notch. 4125 St. Charles Ave., hotelchloe.com

Where to Eat

French brasserie Couvant recently opened in the Eliza Jane Hotel in the Central Business District, featuring a six-seat raw bar and French fare from Executive Chef Elliot Cunniff. Housed within the building’s original bitters factory, the space features a black-and-white tiled floor in the front lounge with bar-style seating overlooking Magazine Street. A 17-seat bar made of oak and repurposed newel posts rounds the corner and connects the front lounge to the modern dining room, which is outfitted with saddle-brown leather, channel-tufted banquettes; unique local art pieces; exposed stone flooring; globe lighting; and mosaic tile accents throughout. For drinks, be sure to check out The Press Room, the hotel’s intimate living room-inspired lounge with antiques and books, typewriters, and leather and multihued velvet seating. Another delight is the Bisous Wine Bar, a seasonal courtyard experience offering a rotating selection of unique wines paired with seasonal raw bar options, hors d’oeuvres, cheese and charcuterie. 315 Magazine St., 504.882.1234, theelizajane.hyatt.com

Couvant at The Eliza Jane Hotel

In the Warehouse District, the newly opened Gianna is an Italian restaurant from Link Restaurant Group with James Beard Award-winning Executive Chef Rebecca Wilcomb at the helm. The menu reflects rustic Italian cuisine rooted in Louisiana tradition and technique, with fresh pasta and wood-burning oven specialties. The interior features decorative fabric wall finishes, metal shelving and a zinc-topped, horseshoe-shaped bar in the center of the dining room. Commissioned artwork, including an Ashley Pridmore sculpture and a 20-foot-long mural of an octopus, adorns the space. Guests here will enjoy daily antipasti, house-cured meats, locally farmed produce, Gulf seafood and more. The beverage program highlights curated Italian wines, and a variety of imported and housemade Italian liqueurs. 700 Magazine St., 504.399.0816, giannarestaurant.com

Another fabulous New Orleans chef, Justin Devillier, and his wife, Mia Freiberger-Devillier, have opened their third restaurant, Justine, in the French Quarter. The restaurant, designed by locally based Farouki Farouki, combines the sophistication of a Parisian brasserie with the playfulness of New Orleans’ most lively district. The multiroomed restaurant features an intimate back dining room with a mural by local artist Ellen Macomber and an outdoor dining area lush with greenery. The menu highlights dishes like fois gras torchon, soupe à l’oignon gratinée, bouillabaisse, coq au vin and Moroccan spiced-beef ribs. Grab one of the three raised round booths inside with custom felt divider screens to enjoy a private perch from which to enjoy the scene. In the antique-brass and smoked-mirror embellished bar room, screen-printed portraits of Ernest Hemingway and Edgar Degas watch over the room, while a 6-foot-tall, 19th-century cast-iron statue of a female muse stands as the focal point. 225 Chartres St., 504.218.8533, justinenola.com


Where to Drink

Business partners Melissa Coleman and CeCe Colhoun have brought a stylish, highly photogenic coffee and matcha bar to New Orleans, dubbed Drink Beauty. The complex drinks are mixed with unusual ingredients, such as tumeric, beetroot powder, goji berry and CBD oil, to make them as healthful as they are intoxicating. Other surprises, such as butterfly pea flower and rose, result in drinks that are special experiences in themselves. The pink-and-white, Insta-worthy space sparkles with a giant flower mural, neon lips hanging over the beverage bar and a pink La Marzocco espresso machine. An added bonus? There’s also a makeup counter selling the exclusive beauty brand, By Terry—the only location in New Orleans to do so—along with Rodin and Edward Bess. 3424 Magazine St., 504.766.0873

Drink Beauty

For something a bit stronger, head to the newly revamped Henry’s Gin Bar at NOPSI Hotel, New Orleans, in the Central Business District. The city’s first and only gin bar, aptly named for New Orleans’ notoriously law-abiding saloonkeeper and inventor of the gin fizz, Henry C. Ramos, the bar serves more than 50 gins representing nine regions and two gin varietals (Old Tom and Geneva). Curated under the direction of Executive Chef Neal Swidler, the menu features signature gin cocktails, a build-your-own martini option, a selection of beer, wine and chef-inspired small plates. Grab a spot at the bar or in the communal space throughout the lobby, and enjoy weekly live music. 317 Baronne St., 504.962.6500, nopsihotel.com

Newly opened in the Central Business District, Espiritu Mezcalería & Cocina celebrates the food, drinks, history and culture of Mexico with agave spirits at the forefront. It’s also the official home of the Mezcal Society, a club dedicated to the appreciation of agave spirits. Join a mezcal tasting guided by Master Mezcalier Jason Mitzen, including a flight of three mezcals accompanied by information on how the mezcal is made, who makes it and the flavor notes. 520 Capdeville St., 504.267.4975, espiritunola.com


A new wine bar has opened in the Lower Garden District called Claret, offering more than 25 wines by the glass, 30 domestic and imported craft beers, and an extensive craft cocktail list created by Bar Manager Craig Seaman and Wine Director Lizzie Lenson. Executive Chef Marcus Woodham has curated a wide-ranging, housemade charcuterie program and an extensive cheese selection from around the globe. Opt for the outdoor patio area with retractable roof. 1320 Magazine St., 504.766.9425, claretnola.com

What to Do

Enjoy a day in City Park at the newly expanded Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden. The six-acre expansion brings the garden to 11 acres among a mature landscape of pines, magnolias and live oaks surrounding two lagoons. The garden now features more than 90 sculptures, most of them donated to the New Orleans Museum of Art by the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Foundation. There’s also an outdoor amphitheater and stage, pedestrian bridges and walkways, a new gallery and an outdoor learning environment.  1 Collins Diboll Circle, 504.658.4100,  noma.org/sculpture-garden

For a fun night out, head to the Fillmore at Harrah’s New Orleans. This new 22,000-square-foot live music venue honors the historic traditions of Fillmore music halls around the country and showcases incredible state-of-the-art production, vintage poster art, VIP amenities and more. Wrought iron gate segments and clapboard sidings are used throughout the venue, alongside local influences such as gas street lanterns, street tile signage and local art displays.  6 Canal St., 504.881.1555, fillmorenola.com

The Fillmore

The new Sazerac House Museum recently opened on the corner of Canal and Magazine streets, just a few hundred yards from the original 1850 Sazerac Coffee House site. The nearly 200-year-old buildings now house artifacts and information about the spirited history of the iconic Sazerac cocktail, as well as many other original New Orleans brands. Guests also will learn how New Orleans has shaped the bourbon and rum industries, and the overall American cocktail culture of the city. 101 Magazine St., 504.910.0107, sazerachouse.com

Art Smart

These must-see local artists add a touch of whimsy to any New Orleans visit.

Studio Amanda Talley 

For Amanda Stone Talley, painting is an exercise in the transmutation of light and energy into a three dimensional plane. The reaction to colors and action mark-making are intended to transport the viewer to a realm of undulating vibrational rhythms. “Each painting represents my journey to a plane of consciousness that guides my brush and favors circular momentum,” she says. “I offer my heart and hands to move in tandem with the consistent flow of intelligent infinity. Inspiration is ever present and universal for those who choose to witness it.” 1382 Magazine St., 504.595.3136, amandatalley.com

Amanda Stone Talley

Longshore Studio Gallery

Ashley Longshore’s artwork, which focuses on pop culture, Hollywood glamour and American consumerism, has been compared to the work of Andy Warhol. In addition to paintings, she creates sculpture and furniture. Meanwhile, her performance art consists of working with live models, filming and editing footage, and then projecting images onto painted bodies. This creative dynamo also recently wrote a book, I Do Not Cook, I Do Not Clean, I Do Not Fly Commercial4537 Magazine St., 504.333.6951, ashleylongshore.com

Ashley Longshore

ESOM Gallery Art by Tony Mose

As one of the most collected artists in Louisiana, Tony Mose uses his creativity to tell a story. His evolving Coronation Series of figurative work on canvas and wooden doors is inspired by the lives of everyday people he sees—from a woman at the bus stop to a couple at a restaurant—recreated through Mose’s visual eye. “I have an uncanny talent for storing images in my mind and recalling the image as well as the story I thought it was telling,” he says. “It is the patron or viewer’s discretion to pick up where I left off and create their own story in which the painting lives on through them.” In addition to figurative paintings, Mose also includes abstract art and landscapes in his body of work. 3935 Magazine St., 225.202.6405, esomart.com

Tony Mose