New Orleans is a magical place that everyone should experience at some point in their life. But it’s not the kind of city to take risks. If you watch the news at all, you've probably heard terrible things about crime in parts of the city, sometimes involving travelers. Unfortunately, New Orleans isn't the safest city in the US. But there are a few things you can do to stay safe on your New Orleans vacation. Knowing where to stay in New Orleans is the first step. The NOLA travel tips in this post are intended to prepare you to stay safe in New Orleans. These thoughts are all my own.
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NOLA at Night
New Orleans is enchanting. The city can open your eyes to a world of intense fun and flavor. But those magical streets can hide a sinister side, which adds to the suspense the city of New Orleans seems to exude. One of the things I love most about New Orleans is the mystical quality of the city. The poorly lit streets, unusual smells, and uneven sidewalks all play a role in creating the dreamy, and sometimes otherworldly, feeling the city evokes. This special mixture of old and new world make New Orleans my favorite place to visit.
But New Orleans is a tricky city. Streets can change quite quickly. Old neighborhoods are crammed together, sandwiched in between canals and boulevards. Sometimes it's impossible to know when you've crossed into dangerous territory. I'm not ashamed to say that there are places in New Orleans I wouldn’t be caught in after dark. Even the French Quarter can feel a little dicey at times.
Regardless of the risk, I love spending time on the streets of New Orleans, especially in the evenings. The city comes alive at night, and you come alive with it. The sounds, smells, and sights are intoxicating, not to mention the powerful fruity concoctions your bartender whips up for you. But stumbling back to your lodgings after a fun night out can make you vulnerable. Local criminals have been known to target tourists in moments of desperation.
The Temptation to Say Yes to Vacation Rentals
Planning a New Orleans vacation can quickly get expensive. Finding a place to stay in New Orleans that's affordable and safe requires some research. Many people are tempted to use vacation rentals to save money, which makes sense in some cities. It's easy to believe that because someone lives there, it should be okay. But that's not always the case in New Orleans. How do you know that the person living in your vacation rental isn't scared to walk the streets themselves?
Pssst... are you looking for Mardi Gras tips!?
Just Say "NO" to Vacation Rentals
I read a lot of travel blogs and travel guides, so I hear many people talking about their wonderful experiences using vacation rental services like Airbnb and VRBO. And while I’ve used both services in the past with great success, I would NEVER use either of these services in New Orleans.
Want to know the number one reason why? Safety, my friends. I value my personal safety too much. Staying in a vacation rental in New Orleans could spell problems for some travelers. Not knowing the city well, some folks might unknowingly choose unsafe neighborhoods in an effort to save some cash. Without doing extensive research on the crime statistics of that particular area, I think it's impossible to know for sure that you'll be safe in your temporary vacation rental.
If you must stay in a vacation rental, please pony up the extra bucks for a place in the French Quarter. Staying in any vacation rental outside the Quarter could be a real gamble. No matter how many times I’ve visited New Orleans, it’s not a gamble I’d be willing to take.
Where I stay in NOLA
So what's my best advice on where to stay in New Orleans? Fork over the extra cash for a local hotel. Even though I know the city well, I still choose to stay in hotels, especially if I'm traveling alone.
Why pick a hotel, you ask? The on-site staff, busy entrances, and ample foot traffic help me to feel comfortable, especially when coming back late at night. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it seems less likely that you’ll become a victim of a crime outside a well-lit, busy hotel (as opposed to an un-staffed vacation rental on a poorly lit street).
which hotels are best?
Deciding exactly where to stay in New Orleans depends on your itinerary. It's really about what your interests are and what you hope to experience while you're in New Orleans. With so many different hotels in New Orleans, it's easy to find something affordable. There's something at every price range in and around the French Quarter, the primary destination for most New Orleans visitors.
If you're hoping to primarily explore the French Quarter, then staying somewhere inside the quarter is best. You might want to consider the Hotel Monteleone or the Royal Sonesta if you’ve got money to burn. If you're on a budget but still want some NOLA-flavor, then you ought to consider Hotel Le Marais, The French Market Inn, The Bourbon Orleans Hotel, or Hotel St Marie.
Looking for More New Orleans Hotels?
For safe Quarter adjacent digs, consider staying at the Sheraton New Orleans on Canal or the AC Hotel by Marriott on Carondelet. Both are ideally located for exploring the French Quarter, catching the street cars to Uptown or the Garden District, or hopping on the ferry to explore Algiers.
For easy access to jazz clubs on Frenchmen St, stay at the Frenchmen Hotel. This little gem is ideally situated for exploring some of the hippest areas of the city, including Bywater, the Marigny, and Frenchmen St.
If you're looking for Warehouse District lodging, check out the Old No. 77 Hotel. This hip new hotel is ideally located near all the cool art galleries and theaters in the Warehouse District.
And for the Garden District, don't miss the Historic Streetcar Inn, the Pontchartrain Hotel, or the Henry Howard Hotel. All three of these hotels are perfect for a locals-only experience during Mardi Gras. Just be sure to book WELL in advance.
Why I Wrote This
Firm believers in vacation rentals might find this post bit controversial. As I said before, I’ve used vacation rental services in the past with great success. It’s just not something I can recommend for New Orleans. So, my number one answer to the questions "where to stay in New Orleans" is always going to be "in a hotel"!
I want everyone to feel comfortable and have fun when visiting my favorite US city. More importantly, I want everyone to return to New Orleans and share their love of the city with all their friends and family. As I've said, New Orleans is special to me, and I will always promote NOLA tourism. I love the city, even with all her faults, for many reasons. And I want you to love her, too. So, please y’all, take my advice on where to stay in New Orleans.
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