A stay at the legendary, romantic Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans
Located smack in the center of Royal Street in the French Quarter, the 1886 Hotel Monteleone (214 Royal St) is part of the heart and history of New Orleans. The hotel’s roster of famous guests and the rotating Carousel Bar make Hotel Monteleone a destination, not just a place to stay. This affordable hotel makes my Top Ten Most Intriguing Hotels list.
The doormen give Gene and I fast, attentive service when our taxi pulls up to the hotel entrance. We feel like we are emerging from an elegant horse-drawn carriage. The bellmen dress like royal footmen and attend incoming guests with supreme southern hospitality.
Though still sumptuous, the Hotel Monteleone looks more faded in the flesh than in their online photos. The lobby seems less polished; the grandfather clock in the center, much smaller.
Many small love seats and chairs are scattered around the comfortable lobby, so it was easy to use as a meeting place. The 1909 grandfather clock makes an elegant old-style centerpiece.
I glimpse the Carousel Piano Bar to my right as I enter. The bar room is dark— it is only eleven in the morning. I hope the fabled rotating bar will be as majestic now as it was in the days of its legendary guests: Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Truman Capote and Eudora Welty. The Hunt Grill is closed too, but through its window-paned door, I see white-clothed covered tables set with austere elegance.
Perhaps I over-romanticize the lives of the Literati and their hotel connections. The New York writers had the Algonquin Hotel and the writers of the South had the Hotel Monteleone.
The writer who adopted more locales than any other, Ernest Hemingway, was also a frequent guest at the Hotel Monteleone. Truman Capote claimed to have been born in the grand hotel, but perhaps he meant in his heart rather than in body. Or perhaps, Capote was a teller of tales.
The Carousel Bar
Gene, B. and I have a drink at our home base, The Carousel Bar in the lobby of the Hotel Monteleone. We sit at a corner table since customers fill all seats at the rotating carousel. The bar seats, with wild animal pictures on the chairbacks, rotate slowly enough for easy people-watching. B. has a Hemingway Daiquiri and Gene orders a Sidecar before switching to the local beer, Abita.
One patron looks like Rod Stewart, with Stewart’s classic sloping nose and dark-rooted blond spiky hair. We entertain the notion for a second (only a second!) that he might indeed be Rod Stewart. But we chalk the man up as a reasonably good Stewart impersonator. Until we hear him sing.
After B. says good night, “Rod” belts out a few lines of Maggie May and we wish B. had stayed to witness the hilarity. Then Rod sings the lines again. And again. Now he has the attention of the folks around the bar. Cameras come out and “Rod” basks in the attention.