With its indulgent restaurants, sophisticated cocktail culture and fantastic live music scene, it’s hard to beat a romantic weekend in New Orleans. Make the pulsing French Quarter your jumping off point. The beloved neighborhood is home to Bourbon Street and Royal Street, not to mention elegant hotels and countless bars and restaurants housed in historic townhouses wrapped in iconic wrought-iron balconies.
Cochon, New Orleans
As the name suggests, there's a healthy obsession here with all things porcine, with Louisiana native Donald Link showcasing his passion and roots with aplomb. House made meats, from bacon to sausages, tempt carnivores to this festival of pork, where the headline ingredient comes smoked, cured, shredded, and pressed. Cajun and Creole influences abound, with suckling pig, hot sausage and grits, cracklins and dumplings. Rabbit and head cheese make appearances, but the best way to sample everything is the boucherie plate, complete with pickle and mustard accompaniments. For satisfying simplicity, though, sit back in this airy converted warehouse and order the oyster and bacon sandwich.
W New Orleans – French Quarter
Chain hotels can often sacrifice a sense of place, but not so with this scaled-down version of the trendy Starwood brand. It's an updated French Quarter chic that's on offer here, five floors of jazz and tarot-themed rooms and suites set around a secluded courtyard and pool, complete with cabanas for all-day lounging. The young clientele are fashion-conscious and value a stylish oasis in the midst of the Quarter. The hotel restaurant, SouBou, is a firm local favorite with a renowned cocktail menu and innovative small plates. The usual W guest services—from Living Room to Whatever/Whenever—are all present and correct.
The romance of NOLA's bygone eras prevails in the historic Hotel Montelone's white marble lobby, where the chimes of a 1909 hand-carved mahogany grandfather clock have kept time for a litany of prestigious guests. The Beaux Arts-inspired building's gold-tinged rooms offer a touch of Southern hospitality with antique furniture, gilded mirrors, and ornamental moldings. Literary aficionados and cocktail lovers will feel at home ordering a Sazerac at the revolving Carousel Bar—a 25-seat den that has hosted the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Truman Capote. Five generations of upscale, unpretentious hospitality shine through on every level.
This lush, central city park dotted with lagoons and oak trees full of Spanish moss is an ideal spot for a romantic picnic.
Polo Lounge, New Orleans
Designed like an English club with dark wood furnishings and equestrian-themed décor, the Polo Lounge is an elegant, intimate place for a classic cocktail such as a French 75 or the WhistlePig Sazerac.