The Omni Royal Orleans Hotel is located in a fantastic location, and offers the best balance of convenience, service, elegance and exposure to all things New Orleans. Situated only one block from Bourbon Street, it's in a great position to offer its guests all the smells, sounds and spectacles of one of the world's most famous party headquarters - while providing it's guests a welcome buffer of safety and comfort at the same time.
Every one of the staff I encountered was helpful, courteous and professional. I felt like a respected guest. Though my girlfriend handled the nuts-and-bolts of the money matters with the front desk, and had a couple minor miscues in doing so over our 48 hour stay, I found the Omni Royal Orleans to be a good value overall for the dollars spent. The valet guys were friendly and fast. The concierge Don, helped me with several things, and bellman Albert was friendly, smiling and professional in every way. My impression was that each of them was there to serve – and that they appreciated my business. That’s exactly how I like to be treated when I get the precious opportunity to travel and get out of the grind for a few days.
The wireless internet service was slow, but stable. It’s available for a fee or comes packaged with some rooms and plans. There is a business room with a couple computers and printers. Printing was a bit of a hassle, but hotel staff made that work out just fine when I asked for their help.
Our room was very clean, and the furnishings ranged from nice to impressive. Since I’m a guy, I don’t care so much about beautiful furniture or upholstery, but I was struck by how elegant even the sheets and bedspread was. The attention to detail, and the quality of carpet, shutters, bathroom fixtures, towels…everything, made it feel like we were honored guests in a first-class hotel.
We were able to walk, easily, to the Superdome, Harrah’s, Café du Monde, the Natchez dock, Riverwalk, World Trade Center, Pontalba/Jackson Square, and of course all the shops, restaurants and sights of Bourbon, Canal, Toulouse, Decatur, etc. I even sprung a last-minute arrangement on my girlfriend to take a Katrina-related bus tour, from Gray Line Tours, and we were able to basically sprint there in seconds, because the terminal was so close to the hotel. (I highly recommend that tour as well, but that review is for another location.)
As a quick aside, I know there are some who may wonder if it’s ‘dangerous’ place – New Orleans, that is – due to the few sensational stories or news reports that they’ve heard – probably quite old stories at that. I can’t speak for the whole city, but I can tell you that with the time we spent in the Quarter (and in all other areas of Louisiana for that matter), I never felt threatened or even concerned. Of course, that’s all relative – I’m a 44 year old, 230 pound man, and I keep my concealed carry permit with a nice gloss on it, at all times – always keeping my eyes open, and listening to my gut when going to new places. We were often approached by people on the street looking for a few bucks. But, to me and my girlfriend, that was just another way to get to know people in the city – we planned for this, and always had some cash in hand, as well as questions and best wishes for those who came to us. As far as threatening situations, we didn’t encounter any, but like any major metropolitan area in the world, I’m sure that you can find them here. We didn’t at all.
From our 2nd floor, Royal Street balcony, we were lavished with constant and ever-changing live music that wafted gently upwards - including a fantastic harmonizing trio of men, guitarists, a pianist (who had rolled his upright into the street on a cart), and various instrument/vocalist ensembles. Morning and night, wonderful, living music fluttered through the air, to connect us to the city, and to the heart and soul of New Orleans. Were any of these musicians ready for a thirty city world tour? Perhaps not. Were all of them, offering, their gift of art and conscience, free to whoever might share it with them, in the way that truly represents the essence of culture, and the best of life? Absolutely.
(This was not music blaring from bars or restaurants, nor was it ever negatively intrusive, it was from musicians who would come to the corner of the street beneath our balcony, play for a time for tips, and move on.)
As the sounds drifted up, so did the smells, including the fragrance of the best gumbo I’ve ever eaten, courtesy of the Royal House Oyster Bar. Of course, there are several restaurants surrounding the hotel, and there was no shortage of seductive scents – each of which would lead a trail back to a boiling pot of something wonderful, or a grill or broiler, throwing it’s taste temptations into the wind. Smoked sausage, fried oysters, crawfish étouffée and even a slice of banana’s Foster cheesecake were just a few of the free smell samples that got the better of me, from the balcony of our room.
Between the smells and the sounds available, I quickly felt ‘dialed-in’ to the city – wonderfully immersed and personally touched by a place that could just as easily be shrieking in pain, as inviting me to celebrate life with her. I’ve travelled a good deal in my life, and in some cities and hotels, I’ve felt insulated or disconnected for one reason or another, from the ‘pulse’ of the community. But the way that New Orleans seemed to warmly offer herself up, particularly on the corner of Royal and St. Louis, I don’t think I’ll ever forget. With my girlfriend, I’ve been overusing the term ‘organic’ to describe things that just seem to fit naturally and almost effortlessly – but since I haven’t yet worn the term out with those who might read this review – let me just tell ya, that the Omni provided an almost instantaneous organic setting for enjoying the city.
Perhaps it’s way off-topic, or far too sentimental to share with the public, but as I get older, I realize I’m not gonna be on this rock forever – and I’d rather leave the world with the imprint of my passion than the polite safety of silence…so having said THAT – this was my first trip to downtown New Orleans since 1995. I turned 40 early September in 2005 and felt sick and helpless at a party that was thrown for me, while we all watched the news of the ongoing crisis in NOLA. I personally got so fed up that I pushed and clawed to make my way south, and finally got as far as Colombia, MS with the Red Cross. Even spending a couple weeks doing what I could to help, it just seemed like there was no way to make much difference to help the lives of fellow Americans whose lives had been turned upside down.
Still in 2009, to me, it remains a mystery what I can personally do to make life better for others who are unquestionably, trying to rebuild from the mess four years ago. I realize the scale of the damage, and the scope of human suffering is enormous, yet it’s in my heart to somehow share some love with people I don’t know – and to try to contribute to their sense of hope and future. As we visited many parts of the city and state over the last few days, we got an opportunity to put money directly into the hands of those who are living and working there. It was a privilege to not only support the bricks-and-mortar-based businesses throughout the area, who provide jobs and benefits to Louisiana residents, but an equally great honor to get to provide the smallest bit of tangible thanks and encouragement to the musicians, mystics and wanderers who call New Orleans their home.
I was touched by the life that refuses to quit there – and the uniquely NOLA courage, beauty and art that comes from the heart of the city. The Omni Royal Orleans, as well as the surrounding businesses, gave me a way to not only experience the best of New Orleans, but also a small way to give back to the community at the same time. I encourage others who may feel the same way that I do to consider the city and this hotel in particular, for their dollars, when making upcoming travel plans.
I’m not suggesting for a second that this hotel is perfect, or represents an enlightened pathway to the restoration of Louisiana. I am however, urging other travelers to consider this hotel and general area as not only a great way to enjoy the very best of the Mardi Gras spirit, but as a legitimate and sustainable way to help real Americans who live on the ground there, stay employed and hopeful as they rebuild their lives. A good hotel like this is an anchor for many other businesses, jobs, progress and hope. The Omni is worthy of your discretionary travel funds on all counts.
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- Also Known As:
- Omni Royal Orleans Hotel New Orleans
- Omni Hotel New Orleans
- Omni New Orleans
- New Orleans Omni
- Omni Royal New Orleans