The first light slipped through a crack in the thick, panel curtains. Before going to sleep I’d considered closing them completely but jet lag would’ve had me missing half the next morning and I didn’t want to squander a minute of the trip.
There were a few new sounds from the street below. Listening closely I could make out the faint warning of a cross-walk audio but it was nested in a murmuring bustle that was new to this suburban, California gal. It was my first time waking up in New Orleans.
That excitement alone would’ve had me bounding out of bed and getting ready for the day but our room at the Whitney was so comfortable. My sister and I had requested two beds and were given two rooms separated by a double door. It was just a part of the discrete and luxurious service we experienced during our two nights at the hotel.
The Whitney is a Beaux Arts beauty listed on the National Historic Registry. The building was originally the Metropolitan Bank and designed by one of the most prestigious architectural firms of the post-Civil War era. Today if you peer into the dining room past the marble columns and its huge mural, there’s a mystery.
A room beyond is brightly illuminated and separated by a vault door but the two spaces share marble columns and a tall, embellished ceiling. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of what’s beyond. It’s actually a branch of the Whitney Bank and still in full service.
When we arrived by cab from the airport (about a 20 minutes ride,) he dropped us off at a formal, side entrance and a valet brought our luggage inside. We signed in at an old tellers desk and on the way to the elevator passed the bank vault, now a banquet room.
As part of the New Orleans Collection of historic hotels, the Whitney is well situated for exploring the French Quarter but just far away enough to be quietly accessible. Around the corner, there’s a St. Charles Line Trolley stop. That couldn’t be more convenient. It goes out through the Garden district and to the Audubon Park and loops back to Canal Street before returning. It was perfect for our walking vacation.
One night we ventured to Frenchman Street, on the far side of the French Quarter, for music and dinner. Returning to the Whitney was simple. Ready for a stroll, we slowly walked to the hotel. Taxis were everywhere but even at the late hour there were so many people out on the street we felt relaxed about taking our time and walking, two gals enjoying a late, fall evening.
The Whitney exudes its historic background but isn’t stuffy – the amenities are up to date and always being upgraded. We enjoyed coffee in our room, the bathroom was generous enough for two gals to spread out and we each had our own TV. I loved having fast, complementary WiFi. The only thing missing was a place to sit and discuss our plans for the day – One of us sat in an armchair, the other on a bed bench. It was a minor rub.
Being on the edge of New Orleans’ Financial District explained the neighborhood hush the weekend we were there. Offices were closed and workers were home. A park is around the corner next to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta which houses the Museum of Trade Finance on the first floor. Getting in required a security clearance as stringent as any airport but little museum was charming and interesting. Little bags of shredded bills came home as souvenirs.
In the Museum of Trade Finance a label reads: “The shreds in this bag are of unfit currency.” Now we know where old dollars go to die.
New Orleans is overflowing with charm and discoveries. I look forward to returning to find more and resting my head on those perfect pillows at the Whitney Hotel.
Our stay was partially underwritten by the New Orleans Collection of hotels, but the opinions are my own.
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So good to hear about this hotel, Elaine. We usually stay in in the French Quarter is very small ones. This one looks very luxurious and it’s probably priced accordingly. We love New Orleans and used to go there once a year for meetings, but after Katrina blew them away, we stopped going.
Dear Anda, the city has rebounded with a passion. The Whitney looks luxurious but it’s surprisingly reasonable. The French Quarter is colorful and fun but if I were to return again I’d look for something closer to Frenchman Street but still walk-able, like the Whitney was.
what a stunning hotel, I love historic hotels like this. That bedroom suite is amazing!
The suite was spacious and the pillows perfect.
What a beautiful property! We have a similarly unique property here in Ottawa, albeit s much less fancy one. Our hotel is a former city jail and most of the rooms are former jail cells. I promise you, it’s much more charming than it sounds 😉
I’ve heard of a few jails turned BnB’s. Would make an interesting dream time!
Wow, the hotel is seriously gorgeous!! We stayed in New Orleans a few years ago but would love to get back, and I would absolutely love to stay at the Whitney Hotel. Thanks Elaine!
Thanks, Meg. The Whitney has some serious chops. I hope you visit.
Wow – seems like a great place to stay in New Orleans – have never been but will keep it in mind for sure!
It was a delight.
Whoa, this place is classy!! I love the dining hall, great place for a photoshoot! 🙂
Thanks, Amelie, It would make a great set piece for sure.
This looks like a great spot! We’ve never been to New Orleans, but it looks amazing, I can’t believe it used to be a bank, and that there is still a functional part of the bank in operation, that’s awesome. Cool vault door!
Thanks, Darice. I hope you get a chance to visit and perhaps see the vault yourself.
I love waking up and listening to a city wake up. The Whitney Hotel in New Orleans has a unique history in a city, which we will definitely be visiting at some stage. I have yet to stay in a bank I have to say.
The Whitney was full of surprises and so convenient. You’d enjoy the history too.
I love historic hotels and wherever possible choose them over standard hotel chains. Sometimes it can feel like stepping back in time and experiencing the city in a different way even when you’re not outdoors sightseeing.
I’m like you on loving more historic properties. It’s as close as I get to time travel.
Not a bad spot to wake up to!
This place looks like it is taken from the pages of a history book. Oozing glamour and, as you say, discreet service. Great find
Thanks, Mar. Experiencing New Orleans is like stepping into history.
What better place than New Orleans to enjoy an historic hotel like the Whitney. The location sounds great, but mostly I have a weak spot for old bank building conversions. My father’s office was in a former bank, and I loved the scary feeling of walking into the vault. I’ll look for the Whitney Hotel next time I’m in New Orleans.
Cool, Kristin. We have a beautiful bank conversion in San Diego too- The Marriott on Broadway. And yes, there’s a huge vault as well.
What a gorgeous property, and how often do you get to sleep in a bank for the night (or almost!). I’m a walker too, so this location would be perfect.
Thanks, Nancie, it was a great option for us.
I love it when buildings are thoughtfully and creatively repurposed such as the Whitney Hotel in New Orleans. We stayed at a much smaller repurposed bank B&B in County Limerick, Ireland a couple of years ago, and it’s such a charming way to honor the building’s history. This looks wonderful, too.
Thanks, Betsy, seems like it’s a trend away from tearing down to incorporating a building’s history into new uses. Applause and good for the planet!