Home Estate Planning How to experience the New Orleans Mardi Gras spirit with the locals

How to experience the New Orleans Mardi Gras spirit with the locals

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The Chloe New Orleans, hotel review: Charlotte Cline checked into one of the modern hotels in Uptown New Orleans to find more of a local atmosphere, great music and strong cocktails

There is something very exciting indeed about arriving upon St. Charles Avenue by trolley cart. You leave the tourist bustle of the French Quarter behind for the toybox mansions and oak canopies of Uptown New Orleans. 

While the US city might be famed for its colourful Mardi Gras processions, creole dishes, gallery townhouses and the al fresco jazz in the French Quarter, there is newness taking root in its uptown Garden District as a new crop of boutique hotels offer modern southern hospitality in one of North America’s oldest outposts. 

I was checked into The Chloe, the flagship residence in LeBlanc + Smith’s portfolio of boutique bars, restaurants and hotels in the New Orleans and State of Louisiana area, often abbreviated by locals to NOLA.

Housed in a striking 19th-century mansion near the Tulane University, The Chloe just feels local – and celebrates the eccentricities of the city. There are moody parlours adorned with birdcages, corridors studded with eclectic artworks and a heavy, musky scent carrying you through the reception to a bar stacked with exotic liquors and garnishes.

The Chloe is that great aunt – the rich one you’ve heard stories about that you have to put your Sunday finery on for.

While a staple of the touristy French Quarter might be frozen daiquiris, there were no foam cups “to go” here. Instead, drinks were served on wicker rockers on the veranda overlooking the pastel umbrellas of The Chloe’s chessboard pool.

From an inventive menu indicative of the city’s love affair with the cocktail, we opted for Violet Beauregard’s Revenge, a relatively sensible bubbly and blueberry apéritif. It was only 11 a.m….

We had the Uptown Suite, one of 14 bright, well-styled rooms. With two plump queen beds, it had a spacious shower room and a hideaway nook for sipping coffee over the Sunday papers. They even had an old Louis Prima record playing when we arrived and there was  a boozy box of Butter Bourbon & Sazerac chocolates balancing on the dresser. 

The morning after a lazy evening, we ate breakfast on the porch, having completed a form meticulously defining exactly when, where and how we would like to enjoy our griddle cakes, warm pecan butter, maple syrup and peaches—southern hospitality at its finest. 

It was only a brief getaway to the New Orleans Garden District, and as the receptionist reeled off a packed social calendar – al fresco DJ sets, fireside chats, art viewings and supper clubs –  I wished we were staying longer. 

I’d recommend going for three to four days to get a first overview, allowing enough time for a steam boat ride, a couple of live jazz shows, and to take in the touristic heart as well as the Uptown region where we stayed.

A buzzy happy hour was warming up as we gathered our bags the following day. Nola’s art crowd perched on every available surface sipping eclectic cocktails to lo-fi jazz. This is a favourite neighbourhood haunt, as well, we learned. Oh go on then, just one more…

As we waited for the trolley, we looked back on the festoon lights illuminating The Chloe’s ornate facade and I caught a few slithers of metallic Mardi Gras beads draping the branches. If there was a picture to capture the new New Orleans scene in 2024, this hotel felt like it. 

Rooms at The Chloe start from around £280; find out more about New Orleans at neworleans.com

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