Everybody has heard of New Orleans. Whether that’s because it’s the birthplace of jazz legend Louis Armstrong (and, indeed, the music genre itself), the tragedies of Hurricane Katrina, or its most notable annual event, Mardi Gras, this culturally rich city is many things to many people. From museums and modern art galleries, to Louisiana swamp tours and excellent Creole cuisine, New Orleans has a lot to offer every kind of tourist, and should definitely be ticked off your must-visit list. Soon.
Café Du Monde
Right in the thick of the French Quarter, on the famous Decatur Street and next to the French Market, this renowned open-air café is best known for two things: beignets and coffee. The French-style doughnuts are delicious and dusted with icing sugar; the perfect pre- or post-shopping snack. You might have to queue up for a seat, but there’s a quick turnaround and it’s worth the wait.
Discover all sorts of locally made crafts, art, jewellery and even food at this daily marketplace along Decatur Street. Once you’re done buying your gifts, you can take a load off at one of the food and beverage stalls, which serve plenty of classic local fare and drinks.
You know all those amazing photographs you see of New Orleans’ winding, maze-like streets and colourful, quirky houses? That’s located in the city’s oldest neighbourhood, the French Quarter. It was founded in 1718 and the city developed around this central square
that’s also known as Vieux Carré. It’s also where you’ll find the most popular bars and live music venues.
If you want somewhere less touristy and commercialised, head to Frenchmen Street where all the New Orleans residents hang out. You’ll find seriously cool live music venues, like The Spotted Cat Music Club (www.spottedcatmusicclub.com), and the best and most creative hot dogs we’ve ever had thepleasure of tasting at Dat Dog (www.datdog.com).
No visit to New Orleans is complete until you’ve caught one of the awesome jazz performances at the Preservation Hall. It was founded in 1961 in order to preserve traditional New Orleans jazz music, and the building hasn’t changed one bit since. Show times are nightly, at 8pm, 9pm and 10pm. We recommend getting there at least 30 minutes early to queue up outside and ensure a seat. Entrance is US$15 (QR55) or US$20 (QR73) depending on the night.
The National World War II Museum
This museum is actually one of the city’s top attractions, and is impressive, whether you’re a history buff or not. At the start, you’ll choose a character and follow their life as it was during the war. The exhibitions are incredible and immersive, with authentic artefacts and memorabilia from the time on display.
Where to stay
This 64-room, family-owned hotel in the heart of the French Quarter was born in 1886. It soon became the hangout of choice for some of America’s most notable authors, such as Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams, thanks to its revolving carousel bar, which is still in operation today.
From QR527 per room, per night. www.hotelmonteleone.com.
Melrose Mansion Suites
Set in a beautifully restored Victorian mansion on Esplanade Avenue, close to the French Quarter, this boutique bed and breakfast is homely, elegant and offers lovely rooms and some fantastic service.
From QR537 per room, per night. www.melrosemansion.com.
Place D’Armes Hotel
For a bit of old-fashioned luxury, we recommend this French Quarter hotspot, which consists of beautifully restored 18th and 19th century buildings with some lovely, hidden, tropical courtyards.
From QR833 for a minimum of three nights. www.placedarmes.com.
There are no direct flights from Doha to New Orleans, but Qatar Airways will take you there via Dallas/Fort Worth for QR4,145. The total journey time is approximately 19 hours.
If you’re staying in the French Quarter or Central Business District, everything is pretty easy to reach by foot. For much of your visit, we highly recommend walking around, as it’s a great way to get a feel for this stunning city. Alternatively, taxis are always available, and you can hail them from the street, or you could rent a bicycle for a bit of exercise (prices vary depending on the provider). You can also hop on a streetcar, if you’re near a route, for as little as US$3 (QR11) per day.
Take a fascinating day trip to the Whitney Plantation, less than an hour’s drive from the city. It’s the only plantation museum in Louisiana with a focus on slavery and recounts history through first-person narratives.
New Orleans is well-known for its annual carnivals and events, but it’s currently gearing up for the mother of all celebrations: it’s 300th anniversary, or tricentennial. A year-long programme of events will be going on this year, as well as new openings all over the city, including a new airport, restaurants, museums and hotels, so now is the time to book.