Significantly reduced room rates lured me to the Ace Hotel New Orleans — while many amenities are still closed, I was impressed by their new COVID protocols and the facilities that were open

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  • The Ace Hotel New Orleans is open with new COVID-19 protocols in place and some restrictions on facilities.
  • I booked an entry-level Medium Room and enjoyed my stay despite many of the hotel's signature amenities being unavailable.
  • My room cost $117 per night, which is a serious deal considering rates pre-COVID ran closer to $175.
  • Read more: Is it safe to stay in a hotel right now? An infectious disease doctor, a cleaning expert, and hotel reps all share what you should know before you check-in.

Pre-pandemic, the Ace Hotel New Orleans was a thriving social hub for visitors and locals alike. On any given night, a young and hip crowd could be found drinking mint juleps in the off-lobby cocktail bar and watching local bands of all stripes perform in the on-site music venue.

The hotel is one of the more popular stays of the new generation of 'boutique' properties in the city's Central Business District, its room offerings typically bolstered in regular times by its rooftop pool, craft cocktail-lead bar, serviceable restaurant Josephine Estelle, and the aforementioned live music venue, Three Keys.

Though the Ace has re-opened with new COVID-19 protocols in place and reduced occupancy, many of its signature draws, including the bar and Three Keys, are sadly still closed. As such, the hotel has had to adapt and pivot, and is now relying more heavily on its trendy design aesthetic, excellent location close to the French Quarter, and discounted room rates to lure travelers back. So far, it appears to be working. 

As a relatively small national chain that enjoys a reputation for its minimalist-chic presentation and casual ambiance, there's an experiential consistency that young, out-of-town travelers are drawn to. While there are many great hotel options to choose from in New Orleans, the Ace Hotel New Orleans offers a reassuringly familiar experience to its sister hotels in other major cities, and has been able to rely on that brand recognition as recovery begins. It also operates a sibling property nearby in New Orleans, Maison de la Luz, which I previously reviewed. 

However, it was the reduced room rates that persuaded me to book a stay here. I booked an entry-level room, which the hotel website calls a Medium, but is less confusingly described as a standard King room on booking sites, for the competitive price of $117 before taxes and fees. Pre-COVID, standard rooms often went for $175 and could run as much as $250 per night during particularly busy times, making this a serious deal despite some of the hotel's amenities not currently being operational.

Plus, the rooftop pool was still open, as was dinner service at the restaurant, and the hotel's corporate website talked up its COVID-19 protocols, reassuring me on the safety front.

Overall, I had an excellent experience, despite some noise issues, and would highly suggest considering this hotel for a stay in New Orleans. If you're looking to discover our other top picks in the city, be sure to read our guide to the best hotels in New Orleans, too.  

  • The first impression
  • The room
  • On-site amenities
  • What's nearby
  • What others say
  • What you need to know
  • COVID-19 policies
  • The bottom line
  • Book the Ace Hotel New Orleans starting at $117 per night

Keep reading to see why I was so impressed by the Ace Hotel New Orleans.

The Ace Hotel New Orleans has, in common with most hotel conversions in the Central Business District, a fairly low-key exterior. It blends in with its surroundings even more so now during stage three reopening since the valets and lobby staff that usually buzz around the entrance are absent.

That familiar Ace style of curated bohemia was readily apparent as I entered the small lobby, which was decorated in a whimsical mix of Art Deco, Beaux Arts, and thrift-store chic. The space was noticeably more compact than usual, a phalanx of tables set up in front of the front desk to provide a physical barrier instead of the more common clear plastic shields that many hotels are employing. 

The person behind the front desk was masked, but was just covering for the actual receptionist, and so I had to hang back for a few minutes before checking in. It's one of the understandable eventualities when you're working with a skeleton staff, and there was a sizeable, empty, and comfortable lounge/bar room right off the lobby, so it wasn't such an inconvenience. 

I was an hour early, but the front desk assistant checked me in and did a good job of explaining the various new COVID protocols, some of which — like booking slots of time for the rooftop pool — were quite involved. But I was allocated my entry-level Medium Room on the second floor soon enough. 

It was also explained to me that the main bar and music venue Three Keys were both closed, but the adjacent coffee shop (Stumptown) was open and the restaurant, Josephine Estelle, was operating a limited dinner service and in-room dining was available for breakfast.

The overall check-in experience was friendly, informative, and reassuring. 

I booked an entry-level room that third-party booking sites call a Standard King Room, but that the hotel itself calls a Medium room. My Medium was located on the second floor of six. 

The hotel has its COVID-19 policies and protocols readily available on their website and it did feel as though the property was living up to them in general. All guest rooms are kept empty for at least 24 hours between check-outs, so there was a freshness to my room when I walked in. There was also an envelope laid out with a mask and a hygienic wipe.

All of the room categories share the hotel's aesthetic, branding being high up on the list of Ace's priorities. Traditionalists may find them somewhat on the stark side, but minimalists will be much more at home.

The standard of decor and the overall space, especially given the 12-foot ceilings and 300- square-foot floor area, represented excellent value at just $117 per night. The windows let in a good amount of natural light and were dressed with charming window boxes with pleasing greenery to frame the view of the street outside. 

The bohemian aesthetics and colorful touches added a level of character that isn't found in the international chains that make up the hotel's peers in the CBD and made it feel homier. 

A whimsically painted wardrobe mixed with a full-size forest green Smeg refrigerator, a Tivoli DAB radio, and a hand-crafted matelassé quilt created exclusively for this hotel.

There was also a small work desk in the room that came with its own almanac and a New Orleans 'survival guide' to help tourists out.

Some of the amenities (in-room snacks, mainly), had been stripped out, although the minibar, pads and paper, and bathrobe were present. 

The super-comfy, hooded, Wings and Horns-branded bathrobes are always a welcome part to staying at an Ace property. However, mine was not wrapped or marked in any way to indicate it was recently laundered, though it did look and feel clean to me.

The room was topped off with the chain's signature high-end hypoallergenic bed. Sleeping in the King Bed was very comfortable and the bedding and linens were high quality.

However, I did experience some noise issues, perhaps due to the location of my specific room. The streetcar passing by was evocative during the day, but it was quite intrusive as it continued once an hour over the course of the night. I could also hear machinery running quite clearly, perhaps the elevators or a generator. If you are a light sleeper, I'd advise earplugs for your visit or requesting a room on a higher floor. 

The bathroom was elevated with classy gray tiling, and the shower pressure and deep bath were both impressive. I particularly liked the intelligent design of the shower controls being set away from the flow of the showerhead so I could properly adjust the temperature before getting wet.

The towels kept up the high-end feel of the room offerings, and a mix of single-use Pearl soaps and Rudy's Hair and Body products were available. 

I only stayed for one night, but for longer stays, housekeeping is available on request and all employees are required to wear masks.  

There are three other room categories available, listed on the hotel website as 'Double', 'Large', and 'Suite.' The Double Rooms are similar to the Medium rooms but have a 350-square-foot area and two beds, with a nightly rate that's broadly the same as a Medium. Large rooms up the area to 400 square feet and have a nightly rate starting at around $134, or $170 for a corner version that gives guests two windowed walls and an additional 50 square feet. 

Some rooms, designated as Patio rooms, also come with a private patio complete with a small table and chairs for enjoying time outdoors. These rooms typically start at about $180 per night.

I have not stayed in any suites at this hotel, but they start at 500 square feet and come with added touches such as designer leather chairs, record players with in-room vinyl selections, and acoustic guitars. The smaller suites start at around $579 per night.

My Medium/Standard King felt like a good-value, entry-level room, especially since it shared many of the high-end amenities that grace the bigger rooms, such as the Smeg fridge and designer bathrobes. While it was more than enough space for me, couples or those looking for roomier stays might find the Large rooms worth the extra money.

Compare room types and prices for the Ace Hotel New Orleans

The Ace is locally popular for its outdoor rooftop pool and bar, and in regular times, it's quite the hot ticket, particularly on weekends. This situation had predictably changed, though the hotel was at least attempting to let guests experience as much as they could as safely as possible.

In addition to the bar and music venue, the exercise room was also closed while I was there.

The rooftop pool was available through a booking system, with guests allowed to pre-book a two-hour slot with capacity limits to ensure social distancing measures. Times were available from Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and from Friday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. It was a little chilly to swim when I visited, but I worked up on the patio for a while, and it was perfectly pleasant.

I was one of only a few guests on the property as far as I could see, and so booking a slot was very easy and there was plenty of space for safe social distancing. 

The on-site dining situation is similarly a compromise. The hotel's signature restaurant is Josephine Estelle, which ostensibly offers a good selection of modern Italian dishes and again, is popular with locals as well as guests. Due to restrictions, the restaurant was only open starting at 5 p.m., as opposed to its usual all-day service. 

I stopped by for a post-dinner cocktail and a couple of parties were seated. The servers and bartenders were all masked and a good level of hygiene was seemingly being observed. The menu appeared to be its regular mix of pasta, meatballs, and Italian-tinged entrees. The hotel also has a sister seafood restaurant just a block down the street, Seaworthy, which is open daily from 4 p.m. 

I've enjoyed the on-site breakfast service before, so I was disappointed not to be able to eat in the dining room the next morning. Instead, I was told that in-room dining was available, and I called the extension given to order a breakfast sandwich and a coffee. I was informed that there would be a 20% gratuity added and a $4 delivery charge, which I agreed to. I did later realize that it was delivered and made by Stumptown, the on-site coffee shop, and if this had been explained earlier, I would probably have just gone down and bought these items without the extra charges.

With all the on-site amenities that were open, I observed signage encouraging social distancing and hand sanitizer stations throughout the property. Social distancing appeared to be enforced throughout the hotel, backed up by a regular cleaning schedule that I saw being practiced in all public areas. 

As noted, the hotel is located in the CBD, though it's just a few minutes' walk to the historic French Quarter. Guests can easily walk to most of the city's downtown attractions and nightlife options, and the streetcar stops right outside the hotel for journeys Uptown. This is convenient during the day, but as I found out, it can be a noisy downside at night. 

There's some greenery to enjoy nearby too. Lafayette Square is a 2.5-acre park sometimes used for concerts and outdoor performances. Canal Place shopping mall and Harrah's Casino are also very short walks.

The National World War II Museum is another of the city's biggest attractions, and that is located just four blocks away. All in all, the hotel enjoys a central location that still allows guests to have a few blocks' buffer from the French Quarter, creating a more secluded retreat to return to after a busy day downtown.

Check flight prices to New Orleans on Expedia

The Ace Hotel New Orleans receives a rating of 4 out of 5 on Trip Advisor and is ranked number 79 out of 177 hotels in New Orleans with just under 600 reviews. Guests praise the vintage style and the rooftop space, as well as the cleanliness of the rooms. 

After a recent public relations crisis outlining a toxic work environment, the hotel has made high-level changes and the staff are particularly held up as helpful, one reviewer relaying a typical summary: "The staff is amazing and helpful. We stayed for a whole week and became close friends with them."

That said, some guests do find the vintage and minimalist aesthetic a little challenging, and equate that with a lack of cleanliness. While this was not my experience, it's a common enough comment.

Read reviews, compare prices, and book the Ace Hotel New Orleans on TripAdvisor

Who stays here: The Ace brand definitely has its loyal followers, many of them Instagram-happy millennials who enjoy the vintage look and quirky design flourishes. With COVID protocols in place, it's also a perfectly good hotel for anyone with hygiene concerns, based on my experience.

We like: The albeit limited opening of Josephine Estelle, which at least gives guests an option for dining. 

We love (don't miss this feature!): The rooftop pool and overall patio space is lovely, especially when you can have it almost to yourself during the week. 

We think you should know: There are some noise issues on the lower floors, with the streetcar running all night and some internal machinery audible.

We'd do this differently next time: Walk down and get breakfast in the Stumptown coffee shop instead of ordering in-room dining to avoid the extra fees.

A full list of the COVID-19 protocols for Ace Hotels can be found online here:

In summary: 

  • The hotel is implementing deep cleaning and sanitation of public spaces on an hourly schedule.
  • All staff and guests must wear face coverings in public areas — they have some available if you forgot yours.
  • Each of the team members undergoes a temperature check before each shift.
  • They posted social distancing guidelines throughout the hotel that we ask both staff and guests to follow.
  • Touchless hand sanitizers and wipes are available throughout the hotel.
  • Complimentary health and safety kits are available at check-in.
  • Guest rooms are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized and then sealed for your safety for a minimum of 24 hours prior to the next guest arrival to allow for proper deep cleaning.
  • The hotel is limiting the number of reservations and safely distancing occupied rooms.
  • Contactless menus are available.
  • Room service and deliveries are contactless.
  • The staff has been trained on standards, procedures and best practices for cleanliness and health.
  • Some amenities may not be available in accordance with local ordinances, but if they are, social distancing and sanitization measures apply.

I was generally impressed with the levels of care and hygiene in the hotel. Staff members were all masked and I felt as though Ace had made adequate provisions to put guests at ease. 

My midweek booking in an entry-level Medium room felt like excellent value at $117 given that pre-COVID prices for standard rooms ran closer to $150-$180 per night. The Ace has a minimalist Bohemian vibe that won't suit everyone's tastes, but it still feels high-end thanks to name-brand appliances and amenities in every room.

With the hotel less crowded, the public amenities were a pleasure to use, particularly the rooftop pool and patio, which are generally teeming with guests. Even though breakfast and lunch options were limited, it was apparent that the hotel was aiming to strike a balance of convenience and safety, and that was reassuring. The sacrifices for the lower room rates are, of course, that the usual menu of live entertainment and a buzzing cocktail and bar scene are absent. 

The skeleton staff were amiable, polite, and informative, and while some traditionalists may not take to the informality that the Ace promotes, younger guests will likely find it refreshing.  

If booking again, I would certainly ask for a higher floor due to ambient noise, but overall, I would repeat my stay.

It's a more memorable experience than many of the surrounding CBD hotels offer, and room rates right now are as good a deal as any I've seen in the city. 

Book a room at the Ace Hotel New Orleans starting at $117 per night

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