There are three things that stand out about the Omni Royal Orleans hotel in New Orleans: its location, awesome rooftop and quiet rooms. Being in the heart of the French Quarter gives the Omni Royal Orleans a major check mark. But being in the heart of the Quarter could be a problem for those wanting a good night sleep, which is why the peace and quiet at the Omni Royal Orleans is a second feather in the hotel’s cap. And the third, well, that rooftop and its great views of the Mississippi River and nearby St. Louis Cathedral speaks for itself.
I’ve stayed in several properties in New Orleans on my many visits to the city. There have been several in the French Quarter, all with prime locations and all with good qualities.
But the Omni Royal Orleans was the first hotel we’ve stayed in that gave us a mix of strong location with peace and quiet that is hard to find near Bourbon Street. I’ve stayed in two properties that opened onto Bourbon, and while both were nice hotels, I would not have chosen them for this family friendly trip to New Orleans. And that’s actually a fourth reason the Omni Royal Orleans was a good choice for us on our family trip to New Orleans, and the second installment of the NBA Road Trip series.
But what about the third reason? Well, I don’t travel to a city like New Orleans for the swimming pool. But I’d happily return to the Omni Royal Orleans to take a dip in this pool.
We spent time lounging on the rooftop deck with drinks from the bar. And on our second morning, we enjoyed some takeout beignets from the nearby Café Beignet as we enjoyed views of the river below.
What else did we enjoy about the Omni Royal Orleans? Well, there was a couple of good nights of sleep in a hotel that sits in a great location that we could access from anywhere in the Quarter within minutes. And while the actual hotel building only dates to 1960, there is plenty of historic charm as well.
I usually don’t feel the need to include a category looking at a hotel’s history, especially one that’s only 54 years old in a city with buildings hundreds of years old. But when a hotel has its own book, “The Tumultuous Life and Times of the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel, French Quarter Royalty,” well, I think it’s worth a few words.
“What this city needed was a Creole palace, a place for aristocrats to meet and do business, to eat and drink and make love, to buy slaves and sell plots of land on the banks of the Mississippi. the city needed a hotel worthy of — itself!” The book’s author, John DeMers, wasn’t talking about the Omni Royal Orleans.
In fact, this was the promise of the city’s first great hotel, to be completed by May 1, 1838. The original St. Louis, which would become the Hotel Royal and finally the Omni Royal Orleans has had a few lives on St. Louis Street between Royal and Chartres streets. The hotel building was abandoned by the early 1900s, and by 1915, virtually destroyed by a hurricane. The block would sit vacant for decades, with such curious businesses as a lumber yard and praline shop calling it home until 1960 when the Omni Royal Orleans would open its doors.
The hotel’s location is historic in its own right. It sits just two blocks west of the Cabildo overlooking Jackson Square, where in 1803 all of Louisiana Territory was sold by the French to the United States for $15 million.
Oh, and the hotel has hosted plenty of celebrities, from Luciano Pavarotti, Muhamad Ali and The Rolling Stones, to Robert Redford, Charlton Heston and Richard Nixon. Arthur Hailey wrote the book “Hotel” based on his stays at the Royal Orleans. But my favorite might be the Led Zeppelin song, “Royal Orleans,” written about the hotel.
I’ll admit, I was a little nervous about getting to the Omni Royal Orleans. The reason: Driving in the French Quarter can be a nightmare, with all the shenigans going on in the streets. We did drive through Bourbon, but considering it was just after lunchtime on a Friday, we didn’t have trouble navigating the French Quarter streets.
The hotel’s parking garage entrance is on Chartres Street just east of St. Louis Street. The Quarter’s one-way streets mean a few extra turns might be necessary to get to the garage entrance, but it’s not hard to find. Once we entered the garage the valet was efficient in taking the car and helping direct us to the front desk, which was through a walkway and up an elevator to the main floor. For those arriving at the hotel via public transportation, there is a taxi stand just outside the main entrance.
Getting from the garage to the front desk wasn’t a problem. And arriving at 1 p.m., we had no wait at the front desk and arrived to a room ready for check in.
We had a double room overlooking the street on the west side of the hotel. Just a block to the north sat Bourbon Street and all it’s fun. But you want to know something? We never once heard the party from the Quarter. And if you’ve ever visited New Orleans, you know the party can go late into the night.
Shortly after checking into our room, I already had concerns about how loud it might be that night. Just down the hall was a group of guys having a good time. But other than encountering them on our way to the elevator, we never heard a sound from them or their room. Maybe it was because of this sign in the hallway:
Our room was spacious enough for three people. The door opens into a small entry area, with a closet and the restroom to the left.
The bathroom had a shower/tub combo to the left, with a toilet in the middle and a corner counter and mirror to the right. It was a tight space for my wife and I to both get ready at the same time.
The room’s two beds are on the left side of the room just across from a large desk and TV.
Colby’s favorite part of the room was probably the large windows that look down onto the street below and the business district’s skyline in the distance.
It did add nicely to the whole idea of staying in the French Quarter.
As seems to be the case with most trips to great cities like New Orleans, we don’t hang around the hotel long enough to take advantage of the various amenities offered.
I did see the hotel’s workout room from outside; it’s located on the rooftop, and the large windows look to provide views of at least the pool deck. In addition to the rooftop swimming pool and observation deck, the hotel also provides overnight valet parking with unlimited in and out privileges, 24-hour guest room dining, full-service barber shop and beauty salon, concierge service and same-day dry cleaning.
New Orleans is one of our favorite food destinations in the world, so when we travel to the Crescent City we have our eyes focused on the great restaurant scene. The Omni Royal Orleans does have the Rib Room, a restaurant that focuses on French cuisine, prime rib and seafood. The Touche Bar offers light fare, and La Riviera serves light lunches and drinks. La Riviera is on the rooftop and provides fantastic views of the French Quarter.
And one quick note on the Rib Room. After we arrived back at the hotel about 10:30 p.m. after attending the New Orleans Pelicans game, we realized Colby had only eaten popcorn at the game. He was hungry and it was looking like room service would be in order. But even though the kitchen had already closed, the staff was kind enough to put together a grilled cheese sandwich for us. Those little touches go a long ways in making stressed-out parents happy.
As a member of the Omni Hotels and Resorts Select Guest program, I was entitled to free Wi-Fi. I only used my iPhone, but found the speed of the service to be efficient.
New Orleans has thousands of hotel rooms, many of which are in the French Quarter, Warehouse District and Central Business District. What that means is there are thousands of rooms with really good locations. The Omni Royal Orleans hotel, if its location isn’t the best in the Quarter, certainly is among the best. Being able to walk out the door and immediately be in the center of the action of the French Quarter is a real plus. To be able to have that great location and a quiet and comfortable room, honestly, is a dream. If hotel rooms are equal across 10 properties, the central location near Jackson Square, not to mention the relaxing rooftop terrace, sets the Omni Royal Orleans apart.
Omni Royal Orleans
621 St. Louis St.
New Orleans, La., 70140
The Omni Royal Orleans has 345 guest rooms and suites, 49 of which feature balconies
There is 15,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, including the more than 4,000-square-foot Grand Salon Ballroom.
A special thanks to the Omni Royal Orleans for the media discount. We were in no way swayed by the hotel’s central location, quiet rooms, comfortable beds, awesome rooftop terrace or true New Orleans hospitality. As always, opinions are our own.