When it comes time to decide where to lay your head in New Orleans, why not choose a place that fully embraces the city’s history, art, spirituality and, of course, joie de vivre. International House is a boutique New Orleans hotel in a Beaux-Arts-style building dating back to 1906. It was also once home to the world’s first international trade center. The four-star property is delightfully quirky, full of personality, and in an excellent location just a few blocks from the French Quarter.
It’s worth studying the hotel’s features before checking in to fully appreciate the thought owner Sean Cummings, and designer LM Pagano put into its decor.
The first thing guests see when entering the hotel is a vintage West African carved mahogany King Bench, topped with indigenous flora. Windblown Louisiana irises inspire the woven steel over the backlit front desk. The massive chandeliers were made by a local artisan to resemble ristra, the pepper bundles that hang from the French Market. And, there is more.
International House Hotel’s Location
International House is located in the Central Business District, two blocks from the French Quarter and the streetcars on Canal Street.
From Jackson Square (and Cafe du Monde), it’s a bit under 15 minutes’ walk to International House. In the opposite direction, I was able to walk to The National WWII Museum (a must-see) in the same amount of time. Anything you might have forgotten to pack probably can be purchased a few blocks away on Canal Street. And, some of NOLA’s most famous restaurants are within easy walking distance, too.
If you’re looking to go carless in New Orleans, this is an excellent spot to base yourself. I took Uber quite a bit, too (just stay in communication with your driver as it’s a busy street and they might not see you).
International House has 117 guest rooms, suites, and penthouses. Of these, 18 rooms have double beds that can sleep 4. Families can also reserve connecting King and Queen rooms that each sleep two people. (Ask for a quiet room, away from the street, if kids go to bed early.)
I enjoyed a corner king room facing Camp Street which had ample space and light. I loved having Aveda amenities. Rooms also have good WiFi, a flat-screen TV, black-out curtains, an empty mini-fridge (to house leftovers from enormous New Orleans portions), luggage racks, storage and more. They keep things simple and comfortable. There is no in-room coffee, but you can grab a cup of coffee or tea in addition to apples and bananas in the lobby starting at 5:30 a.m. The hotel does offer a small list of snacks, drinks and extra amenities that can be sent to your room as rooms service is not available (nor is there a restaurant).
I would advise making sure the room you select is a comfortable size. Like many historic hotels, they can run on the small size in the lower categories. Though rest assured that they do also have penthouses, too.
Loa are spirits in the Voodoo faith tradition which is fitting for such a spiritual hotel. Loa is a cozy bar open in the evenings that is lit by candles and glass orbs hanging from the ceilings. It’s known for its, “Spirit Handler” Alan Walter who serves cocktails that provide a “taste of place” in this New Orleans bar.
He mixes proprietary syrups, using a myriad of fresh ingredients in a sugar-based liquid, at the bar on a rustic camp stove powered by a can of butane. Loa serves Cocktails in vintage glassware that guests can sip at the bar or in the comfort of comfy crimson banquettes.
I’m more of a wine drinker these days and, they do have good options that are available by the glass.
Throughout the year, guests are invited to International Hotel to enjoy seven rituals and events, including Carnival, St. Joseph’s Day, Summer Dress, St. John’s Eve and All Souls Day, among others. As you can see, these celebrations blend magic, mystery, elegance, and passion for New Orleans culture.
Sean Cummings also recently restored the largest Banksy mural in the country, a 10x10ft slab of concrete art that depicts National Guardsmen looting a storefront of TVs and a Boom Box. It will live in the lobby of International House.
Also, the lobby, in particular, has quite a few neat pieces of art to admire including mixed media portraits in a series called The Creative Ones by Byron Buchanan that pays homage to courageous and creative people in history.
Good to Know
International House, including Loa, is a smoke-free establishment.
They can arrange spa services and also have a gym.
Everyone in the hotel is incredibly friendly and helpful when you need it. If you like having staff preemptively cater to every whim and address you by name, it’s probably not for you.
I didn’t have any service issues and checking in as well as out was relatively simple.
It is considered New Orleans’ only true boutique hotel. With all of its personality, I can see why.
Have you stayed at International House?
*I visited New Orleans in partnership with the New Orleans CVB, but all opinions are certainly my own.