Jonas Rask Eilersen
InterContinental New Orleans
444 St Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130, United States
28th September 2015

New Orleans is a major destination for both tourism and business – and with a huge supply of rooms at the top end, how would the InterContinental fare? We checked it out.

In the Central Business District, the hotel is not a first choice for access to the French Quarter. Unless you're in town for something which won't require visits to the French Quarter, I would not recommend a hotel in the CBD. While it's only a short ten-minute walk to the French Quarter, the atmosphere is markedly different, and if you're in town to experience the French Quarter, there really is no alternative to staying IN the French Quarter.
Who stays?
This was a *very* mixed bag of business travellers, families, couples. Don't expect it to be a particularly sophisticated crowd, however (I know this sounds harsh).
Style and Character
Borderline gaudy, the hotel tries to be grand - but it just doesn't work. While the hotel has just been refurbished, and it shows, the hotel is not exactly a stylish refuge. The feel is one of a big business hotel, with a few luxurious touches here and there. The colour scheme is brown and gold - think granite and heavy carpets; this is a place which requires very professional maintenance if it isn't to look rundown and dirty in a year from now.
A major disappointment and very unexpectedly so. While check in was a delight, I was surprised how lazy the doormen were (no offer of helping with bags, for example). The cleaning staff were utterly disappointing; surly and unhelpful. I don't know if it was because we didn't tip enough in the room (something which I really don't like having to do in the first place - but this is America), but for some reason they just did a pretty poor job. An example: during our five night stay, not once were coffee mugs or glasses replenished - and despite repeated calls to the service hotline (calls which were often not even answered), this was not sorted.
Another problem was that I had some dry cleaning done at a local dry cleaner. This was delivered without delay to the hotel - but the hotel staff actually took the whole day to deliver the dry cleaning to the room; and once they did, my jacket was missing (it was still hanging in the reception downstairs).
The only positive interaction with staff was with room service - although delivery was quite slow, the room service team was friendly and professional.
Rooms and Suites
All rooms and suites have been recently refurbished, and it shows. While it's clear that it's an old hotel, the rooms are nicely appointed and furnished (although in a quite gaudy style and colour scheme). Our Balcony Superior Room on the 10th floor was of ample size and had the added benefit of a balcony. While the balcony was in a sorry state, it did provide the possibility to sit outside and have a drink. I was not impressed with the "sculpture garden view" (somebody should really oil the hinges of that scultpure - it squeaks quite loudly whenever there's a little wind...).
The overall layout was very standard, and the room provided all of the amenities expected of a luxury hotel - including minibar (although the fridge could not cool anything down), flatscreen TV (impossible to use due to faulty remote), work desk and a comfortable work chair. The bathroom had a shower/tub combination (tub and toilet in a separate room) and a large vanity with some quite nice soaps and potions scattered about.
I was happy with the ample storage room and ample room for toiletries. The bedding: the highlight. All very comfortable and fresh - a true delight.
Food and Drink
Pete's (the bar) and Trénasse (all day dining) are the options. Both are quite mainstream, both in terms of décor and food and beverage on offer. Pete´s was always, sort of, half full. While we didn't dine in Trénasse per se, we did have room service from here - and it was good, particularly the gumbo.
Features, Wellness, and Amenities
The fitness centre on the top floor is one of the better ones I've experienced in a while, particularly for a hotel at the lower end of the luxury scale. While the equipment is not the newest, there is an ample supply of both machines and free weights.
In comparison, the pool on the top floor is much less appealing - this is one of the areas where a good photographer has made things look a whole lot better in images than in real life.
It's not that it's bad - it's more that the whole pool area seems like a bit of an afterthought, rather than an attraction in its own right. It's quite small, and while there's plenty of seating, the whole thing is just a bit of a letdown. Much could be achieved in the way of decoration, music and so on - but for now, the pool area is strictly for those wanting to catch some quick rays.
Perceived Value
Outstanding - while I'm whingeing a bit in the above, there's no denying that the value for money ratio is very good indeed.
Overall a bit of a letdown, the InterContinental New Orleans is not the flagship property it advertises itself as. While the hard product is, almost, four star, the service and general ambiance are not up to scratch. If you're in town primarily for visits to the French Quarter, bite the (noisy) bullet, and stick to accommodations in the Quarter. That said, the value for money ratio is outstanding.