Location, location, location. And for most visitors to New Orleans that location is usually the French Quarter. If you're a party animal who plans to be out till the wee small hours drinking and dancing on Bourbon Street you'll think you've died and gone to heaven. If you're not, then Bourbon Street at night - or even sometimes during the day - might be your idea of hell.
You still want to see the French Quarter, though, with its wrought-iron balconies, its restaurants, its quirky vibe and sense of history. After all, that's what you do when you go to New Orleans, even though there's a whole other city out there. And that's when you stay at a hotel like the Hotel Dauphine Orleans.
Although it's only a block from Bourbon Street, Dauphine Street is a quieter and more residential street, though with all the balconies and old houses you could possibly want. It's a 5-minute walk from St Louis Cemetery No. 1, the oldest and most famous cemetery in the city, and a 5-minute walk from Preservation Hall, a must-see for jazz fans.
The Dauphine Orleans is not without its own history either, and it's quintessentially New Orleans. Its bar, May Baily's Place, where they also serve breakfast, used to be a bordello. It was in business from 1897-1917 in the former red light district known as Storyville. A life-size cut-out of May Bailey greets you as you enter, there's a bordello piano being played by a skeleton, a framed copy of the operating license by the bar and portraits of some of the city's working girls by the famous Storyville photographer E.J. Bellocq on the walls. When you're coming back after a night out you can let the red light be your guide.
As if that wasn't history enough, the additional breakfast room down some steps from the bar was the studio where the bird artist John James Audubon painted some of his Birds of America series from 1821-22 - long before the place next door became a bordello. He stayed in what is now known as the Audubon Cottages, alongside the hotel's outdoor pool and which can be rented separately from the hotel.
The main hotel building has been turned into a modern hotel which has - important in the French Quarter - its own parking garage. Our room was simple but spacious and had its own small balcony, free wifi, free bottled water daily, an extended continental breakfast, and a free welcome drink in May Baily's Place. But its main virtue was... its location, location, location. We walked everywhere, apart from a jaunt on the St Charles Streetcar to the Magazine Street District and a half-day guided bike tour from Freewheelin' Bike Tours, a block round the corner on Burgundy Street. Other than that, the Dauphine Orleans was our cosy Big Easy home for several days.
Hotel Dauphine Orleans
415 Dauphine St.
New Orleans, LA 70112
Tel: (504) 586-1800
The author was a guest of The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. For more information on New Orleans see www.neworleanscvb.com as well as their Facebook page, Twitter account (@VisitNewOrleans) and Instagram (@VisitNewOrleans) page.
Other New Orleans Features
City breaks in New Orleans are available through the North America Travel Service. American Sky offers fly-drives with two nights in New Orleans. Intrepid Travel has a Southern Comfort USA small group tour which also includes two nights in New Orleans.
Mike Gerrard is an award-winning British travel writer who divides his time between the UK and his home in Arizona. He specialises in writing about the USA and is co-editor of the 101 USA Holidays website.
All photos (c) Donna Dailey.