Two weeks before the holidays last December, New Orleans' French Quarter saw its first new hotel opening in more than 50 years. Located inside a former sugar factory in the 85-block area of the Vieux Carré, as the French Quarter is also known, One11 Hotel has 83 guest rooms and "sweets" (paying homage to the building's history), and a modern aesthetic complemented by unparalleled views of the Mississippi River. But beyond its look, the journey to opening has been especially unusual.
It all started in 1969, when the New Orleans City Council passed a moratorium prohibiting new hotels in the French Quarter (a traditionally residential community) until a study could be completed to determine the effects of demolitions for new projects in the area. In 2004 (before Hurricane Katrina hit) and again in 2015, a land company received city council approval to convert the building at 111 Iberville Street into a hotel, which became One11 and opened Dec. 11, 2020. The key factors in its approval? It was an existing structure where no demolition was needed, and the hotel would add jobs and bring life to the southern end of the French Quarter.
In the few short months that One11 has been open, that's exactly what it's done. Designed by David Ashen of New York City-based Dash Design, the hotel features wood beams, wood and iron columns, exposed brick, and exposed ceiling joists — many of which are original. Arched windows overlook the riverside, and steel beams that were originally used for transporting molasses to the top floor were left intact in the lobby. Even the color scheme nods to its sweet roots, with a caramel hue softening the edges of the contemporary design. "When we say we have a modern aesthetic, [guests] expect cold and steel, but one of the comments we always get is how warm and cozy it feels," says Lisa Miller, director of sales for One11.
Delicious smells wafting from Batture Bistro + Bar on the lobby level add to that warmth. The indoor/outdoor restaurant, helmed by two New Orleans-born-and-raised chefs, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a menu that riffs off traditional local dishes. For stick-to-your-ribs morning fare, try creole eggs Benedict with Lake Pontchartrain lump blue crab, or bananas Foster Belgian waffles made with Louisiana brown sugar and locally produced rum.
The location and views are sure to be a major draw, too, especially come spring and the gradual return to safe travel. "Yes, we're in the French Quarter — you don't have to go to Bourbon Street, but you're close enough to go if you want," says Miller. "Guests like the fact that you can be in it when you're in it, but away when you want to be." From the outdoor space on the eighth floor, get unobstructed views of the Crescent (that distinct bend in the Mississippi River), St. Louis Cathedral, and the French Quarter. Book the two-bedroom, two-bathroom Riverbend Sweet on the same level to take it all in from your private terrace.
Because of its unique location and development as an adaptive reuse hotel without any demolition, One11 could also be the final new hotel in the French Quarter. You know what they say about saving the best for last.
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