So you have your list of New Orleans attractions you're visiting, but first, you need a place to stay, and the choice is difficult because top-notch options are endless. The beau monde loves The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans with its elegant French Quarter-style courtyard, rooftop penthouse and panoramic views of the Crescent City. Few hotels can compete with such specialized guest services as the Ritz-Carlton's "oyster butler" or "crawfish concierge," who help guests access these distinctive New Orleans delights.

With its colorful rooms, the contemporary W New Orleans French Quarter hums with a hip, see-and-be-seen vibe. Equally chic is the restaurant at lobby level, SouBou, for a gourmet take on regional street food and craft cocktails. In contrast, the pomp and splendor of the old French Quarter is dramatically showcased at the Hotel Monteleone, which has been pampering guests since 1886. For understated elegance, we also suggest the Soniat House. Located on a quiet, residential street in the French Quarter, this gorgeous, small hotel was originally built in 1829 by a prosperous plantation owner as a town house for his family; hints of romance and history endure to this day in small pleasures such as fresh-squeezed orange juice and homemade biscuits served in the lush tropical courtyard.

If you want a full-on French Quarter experience, however, consider the Royal Sonesta Hotel, located on one of the busiest sections of Bourbon Street. This hotel combines history and Old World elegance, and features The Jazz Playhouse for top-notch live music and one of the best fine dining venues in the Quarter: R'evolution. This is also a premier in-demand destination for travelers in town for Mardi Gras.

There are also many former plantation homes that offer accommodations which are located about an hour from New Orleans. One we recommend is Nottoway Plantation. Dating to 1859, it claims to be the largest remaining antebellum plantation in the South and offers tours daily, plus piano music during lunch. Other options where visitors may sip a mint julep on the veranda include the Greek Revival Houmas House Plantation and Gardens and Oak Alley Plantation. Houmas House is a destination unto itself, with numerous fine dining restaurants, gorgeous gardens and an inn offering sophisticated guest rooms in out-buildings set amid ancient oak trees. Travelers can also stay the night at Oak Alley, where private cottages offer traditional style and the comforts of a modern hotel.

For more hotels in The Big Easy, see GAYOT's New Orleans hotel reviews and ratings.

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