New Orleans has beaucoup small hotels, and we inspected many looking for the gems. Here's what we found:
Hideaways members have raved about the facilities and service at the Lafayette Hotel since it became a Great Escape more than a year ago (1998). This European-style boutique hotel, on St. Charles Street just five blocks from Canal Street and the French Quarter, overlooks Lafayette Square. A hotel with a long history, the Lafayette was recently renovated to its original, turn-of-the-century splendor. Of its 44 elegant, somewhat sedately decorated rooms and suites, Rooms 208, 209, and all corner rooms ("X07"), with views of the square and St. Charles Street, are the best. It's an excellent value at special Hideaways member-only rates, starting at $119/day (1998) for a deluxe king and $189/day (1998) for a one-bedroom suite.
The Maison de Ville, on quiet Toulouse Street, offers 16 smallish but beautifully decorated rooms in its main building and seven cottages in a gardened annex about a block away. This private, walled compound with a smallish swimming pool is an oasis of tranquility in the French Quarter. Rooms and suites in both locations are furnished with antiques and original art; oriental carpets cover polished wood floors. The adjacent Bistro restaurant enjoys a good reputation. Rates start at $195/day (1998).
The day we visited the Soniat House, Architectural Digest was doing a photo shoot of the place. Need we say more? The 31 rooms and suites in the main building and carriage house annex across the street are lovingly tended by owner/manager Rodney Smith. He imported antique furnishings from France and created an individual decor for each room, including the two elegantly appointed grand suites, with high ceilings and fireplaced living rooms. Rates start at $160/day (1998). Smith also runs the Girod House, on Esplanade Avenue, which we did not inspect. Five of its six units are apartments with kitchens; rates for the apartments start at $145/day (1998).