Everyone has their favorite view of the city. For some, it could be the brief glimpse you get when crossing over the twin-spans from the Westbank, or for others, the way the city rises up around you when arriving on I-10 from Slidell. What I wouldn't give to be able to hit pause while driving that stretch of Earhart Expressway where Downtown New Orleans seems to pop out of the tree line, offering an alluring wink and a grin, before dipping back down into the horizon.
Although there are likely as many different views of the city as there are people who live here, it seems that until recently, it was a rare spot indeed that offered not only the view, but a cold drink and some tasty vittles to boot. I mean, there are always those occasions where, if you're at the right party or know the right people, you could find yourself on the rooftop of a house next to Tipitina's sipping cocktails crafted using Old New Orleans Rum and eating dishes created by the one and only Chef Donald Link, but that's not something that occurs every day. Thankfully, with the literal boom in development happening Downtown and in other parts of the city, finding your favorite rooftop view, along with those all-important amenities, is no longer such a great challenge...
Rooftop Terrace at the Catahoula Hotel
Named one of the “most Instagramable hotels in the world” by Vogue, the Catahoula Hotel is a 35-room boutique created from a restored Creole townhouse that was originally built in 1845. Tucked away on Union Street in the Central Business District, this hotel offers a unique, home-like atmosphere with plenty of exposed brick and an intriguing rooftop terrace with an ipe wooden deck, large lush palms, and “upward skyline views of the city.” You can choose the most comfortable spot, be it curled up on a comfortable couch or reclining on a lounge chair, and sample from a respectable collection of South American wines or opt for a sherry-based cocktail while you gaze at the stars.
914 Union St., (504) 603-2442, catahoulahotel.com
Hot Tin at the Pontchartrain Hotel
Formerly a penthouse built by prominent New Orleans attorney Colonel Deutsch, the Hot Tin is a panoramic rooftop lounge and an obvious homage to one of the city's most beloved playwrights, Tennessee Williams, who lived at the hotel while writing A Streetcar Named Desire. With a 270-degree view, you can pick the scene that pleases you most, whether it be Downtown skyscrapers towering over the famous Superdome, the swiftly rolling arc of the Mississippi River, or a bird's-eye view over the lush Garden District and St. Charles Avenue. But don't be so immersed in the view that you forget to grab a drink at the bar, where you'll discover expertly crafted cocktails like a Seersucker, featuring cognac and rhubarb, or the oh-so-naughty Hibbity Dibbity, made with bourbon, blueberry, and hibiscus tea.
2031 St. Charles Ave., (504) 323-1500, hottinbar.com
Monkey Board at The Tapestry Collection by Hilton (Formerly The Troubadour Hotel)
Talk about funky; you'll want to check out Monkey Board at The Tapestry Collection, a Hilton hotel. Located on the corner of Gravier and South Rampart Streets in the CBD, this bar perched atop a 17-story building affords breathtaking 360-degree views of the city. Like the rest of the hotel, Monkey Board tends towards a more millennial appeal, with graffiti art by local artist Gabe Flores and food truck-type fare flowing from the kitchens. A cocktail menu crafted by T. Cole Newton of Twelve Mile Limit and a menu imagined by talented chef Phillip Lopez means you'll likely find yourself lounging on primary-colored cushions while imbibing a Mad Girl's Love Song with Wheatley Vodka and passionfruit liqueur or munching on ancho pork tostones with crumbles of cotija and sliced jalapeno.
1111 Gravier St., (504) 518-5600, thetroubadour.com/dining/monkey-board
On the corner of Baronne and Union Streets, only steps from the Catahoula, is the brand-new NOPSI Hotel, another one of many renovated properties in Downtown New Orleans. Originally constructed in 1927, this historic building used to serve as the headquarters for New Orleans Public Service Inc., the utility company and transit operator for the city. It has now been re-imagined as a “luxury hotel with a community spirit,” retaining many of the original architectural details, like the grand terrazzo flooring in the lobby. The NOPSI also features a gorgeous rooftop pool and bar dubbed Above the Grid, with spectacular views of the city's skyline. Feel like a VIP while you lounge poolside, Gin Punch Swizzle in hand and all of the Big Easy at your feet.
317 Baronne St., (844) 439-1493, nopsihotel.com/dine/above-the-grid
Take advantage of New Orleans's unseasonably warm fall days at the pool and bar on the rooftop of Ace Hotel. Located about a block from Lafayette Square on the corner of Carondelet, Ace Hotel was renovated from a 1928 Art Deco building that used to house Barnett's Furniture Store. Nine stories up will bring you to Alto, Ace's rooftop garden and pool, a sort of Eden with panoramic views, seasonal cocktails, and eclectic cuisine. Dive straight into a dessert of Lemongrass Pie with coconut and spiced whipped cream, and wash it down with Fool's Gold, a concoction of rye, spiced rum, and elderflower.
600 Carondelet St., (504) 900-1180, acehotel.com/neworleans/alto
Rooftop bar at the Frenchmen Hotel
Although the Frenchmen Hotel is a quaint boutique in the Marigny neighborhood with 27 guestrooms and a two-story view, folks are nonetheless excited that the rooftop bar recently opened with much ado. Perhaps it's because of the hotel's close proximity to the river and the historic French Quarter, or the fact that it's located on one of the city's most music-laden streets … but we think the real draw is that Ferrel Dugas, former bartender extraordinaire of Commander's Palace, is behind the stick with Daniel Keller. Add nightly live music, extended Happy Hours (5 p.m.-10 p.m. daily!), and delicious pop-ups, and we're sure the view will be all you hoped it could be and more.
417 Frenchmen St., (504) 945-5453, frenchmenhotel.com
Coming soon to a rooftop near you...
Vue NOLA at the SpringHill & TownePlace Suites by Marriott
After an extensive renovation of the former ODECO (Oceanic Drilling Exploration Company), the SpringHill & TownePlace Suites by Marriott is projecting an opening date late this year. One of the coolest features of this new hotel will be Vue NOLA, “an elevated rooftop bar experience” with views from the Mercedes Benz Superdome to the Mississippi River, lots of comfortable seating, two outdoor fireplaces, classic cocktails, and small plates. In a step away from your usual gastropub, Vue NOLA will be taking a health and wellness approach to their food and drink program through a partnership with Eat Fit NOLA. We're looking forward to experiencing the Vue, designed as “New Orleans with a New York state of mind.”
1600 Canal St., (504) 702-6800, vuenola.com