The W Hotel New Orleans French Quarter was a mixed bag. The property is well located if you want to be close to Bourbon Street but still able to sleep at night, less than ideal if you’d prefer to participate. While the price was below what I expected to pay for a W in this advantageous location, the hotel staff tried to convince me that a standard room was a suite, as if the emperor had no clothes.
If you’re going any time other than Mardi Gras, the location to this property is ideal. The converted building is certainly in the French Quarter but it’s not on the main drag of Bourbon Street. The location was perfect for my business trip, close enough to walk a couple of very short blocks to the madness but far enough away to not hear it. I would imagine that during Mardi Gras it would be a little disappointing though during Mardi Gras I would imagine that even the streets a couple over from the debauchery would still be able to see a fair bit of revelry.
316 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130
+1 (504) 581-1200
Parking note. Valet was $44/nt plus taxes that take it to just shy of $50/nt. This is on par for other major cities but may be a little steep for some leisure travelers. Shop parking down the street for a third of the price if cost is a concern.
Pulling up to the hotel, there is a loading zone for guests in taxis, but if you will be parking at the property overnight, just pull right in to the opening under the blue lights and opposite the “lobby” (it’s really just a very small room located near the front of the property). Jenny was happy to check me in but had skipped over a few details, some of which I would only determine once I arrived in the room. She was friendly, and delighted to inform me that as a result of Platinum status I had been upgraded to a suite! Fabulous.
I was given a key with the room number and thanked for my business. Except, it was not immediately clear how I was to get to my room. I walked back inside from the driveway to get directions, the lift was diagonal from the lobby, I used my key card to gain access to the elevator.
Fabulous, yes – suite, no
For those who may want to replicate (or avoid) my room, it was 226. I opened the door to my “suite” and saw all the way to the far wall and windows. Everything in the room was visible which means that in fact, it was a studio or just a regular room and not a suite.
I can already hear the comments “if you wanted a suite, you should have booked a suite” which is absolutely correct. But I didn’t even ask for one downstairs – I mean, I would, but just hadn’t. Reception proactively told me that I had been upgraded to a suite, and she was really clear about it – that’s just not what was delivered. I think what is so frustrating to me is that it seems like she either thought I was stupid, inexperienced, or just wouldn’t do anything about it – one of those assumptions was correct.
I did nothing about it. I can verify unequivocally that they had suites available on the night I checked in, that she stated I had been given one and then just didn’t (List of rooms). Even if the Fabulous Room with Balcony is an upgrade from what I booked, that’s neither what the benefits from SPG state I should have received, nor what the actual agent stated I received. SPG states that a Platinum member should receive the best available room including up to a one-room suite. It seems like the desk agent knew the benefits due, offered them to me and essentially tricked me out of my upgrade while smiling and saying she gave it to me the whole time. The emperor has no clothes and I am stating it plainly.
Now I am in a lose/lose situation. If I called down to switch into an actual suite then I’m whining about the slight upgrade I received and become the exact stereotype of an entitled, whiny elite. If I don’t switch, then just like any other benefit I should receive but don’t (like points from my stay or miles from a flight) I am not getting the full benefit of my stay and the reason why I am a frequent visitor to many hotels even when the cost is higher or location less convenient. We had a deal, one of the W employees offered to honor it, then openly broke it and hoped I wouldn’t whine.
Had she said nothing, perhaps I would have asked for a suite, and perhaps not. But now I leave feeling as though I was presumed stupid or actively tricked and either way that doesn’t get me excited to return to the property or other SPG hotels. I don’t want to have to fight for my benefits.
Against the left wall of the room a mini-fridge (not triggered) and small collection of items for sale are kept inside of a decorative box. Prices seemed reasonable for the convenience and the selection looked good but there was no reason to buy anything during my stay. Continuing against the left wall is a large adjustable-arm TV that pivots towards the desk, the last segment before reaching the farthest wall.
The desk was large enough for two laptops and a handful of chargers. Four outlets along with an HDMI port and a pair of USB outlets were concealed behind a small wooden cabinet to the right of the desk. I did set up shop with both laptops and really appreciated all of the outlets, but the USB specifically marked “charge” as opposed to “sync” would not charge my iPhone.
Behind the desk is a large white box that at first glance appears to be a sitting area. It is not, it is simply a disused space as the plastic box did not appear to support weight and even if it had, it looked relatively uncomfortable. The bed was really comfortable and a true King. There were no plugs next to the bed on the right side, the left side had two conveniently placed.
Slatted doors slide into pockets to the left and right, revealing the balcony. Outside is a semi-private space with two chairs and a table and views of a quiet and reserved French Quarter street. I can imagine that it would get quite loud and busy during Mardi Gras, but on a Wednesday night in the middle of January – it was awfully quiet. It was nice to have the space extension, but I would also say that the view wasn’t the prettiest. Directly below my perch was a police van and one servicing the homeless.
The shaded glass door was lockable from the inside (many I find, are not) but quarters were tight. The rain shower head provided excellent water pressure and I liked the toiletries but not enough to take them home. A bathrobe hung in the bathroom with a backup in a wardrobe.
The bathroom was tight. It wasn’t European-style with the door hitting the toilet when it opens, but it was in that range. What is hidden in the image (above) is to the left of the sink where rolled towels occupied almost all available counter space. The image above is completely deceiving and I only learned that once I unpacked my toiletries but didn’t take another picture to demonstrate how crowded it was.
It was too cold to swim and I wasn’t at the W on vacation, but perhaps the most impressive part of the property were the common areas. The pool was small but tasteful and placed in a center courtyard area. There were outdoor seating areas, cabanas, a fountain/fire pit and a stunning staircase candlelit to the top.
It felt every bit like a boutique New Orleans hotel and nothing like the chain that has always been too cool for me.
The fitness center was two doors down from me on the second floor. If you can avoid the room directly next to “Fit”, I recommend you do so. I could hear every sound from inside the room while in the fitness center and I was just there for 30 seconds to take photos. I assume that the guests of the adjacent room would be able to hear every strained movement from inside Fit as well.
Condé Nast Travler recommended Sylvain which happened to be just a few blocks over on the same street as the W. I was able to get right in (despite a wait for tables) at the end of the bar and ordered dinner. Soup of the day was an Andouille broth followed by the highly recommended pan-fried pork shoulder on grits and greens. It was amazing, I might go back to the W just to be closer to this restaurant again.
The food was fantastic, if you stay at the W Hotel French Quarter pop down for a meal – you won’t be disappointed.
Will I Be Back?
Simply put, yes. The location was great especially if you are past the stage drinking daiquiris in public but still want to enjoy the restaurants and architecture of the French Quarter. I will be insistent on getting a true suite if one is available since this property seems to have trouble delivering on this benefit and may park across the street for $16/day instead of Valet for $44 (plus $5.62 in specialty parking tax). Ultimately, the price (a Wednesday in late January) of $150/night was a great value and I loved the restaurants near by.
What do you think of the property? Would you have tried to switch rooms or just went with the flow?