If you weren’t looking, it would be easy to stroll by the door to the Audubon Cottages without a second glance — and that’s the point. Unassuming from the outside yet luxurious to the core, this retreat in New Orleans’ French Quarter feels a world away from the to-ing and fro-ing on the streets. The sense of peace and seclusion is extraordinary, given the neighborhood’s round-the-clock bustle.
The ambiance at Audubon Cottages feels intimate and refined, yet not at all stiff; classic Southern hospitality is at its best here. Guests have the sense of being invited into a private home rather than a traditional hotel, and little ones are welcomed every bit as warmly as their parents.
Family-Friendly Review of Audubon Cottages in New Orleans
Seven one- and two-bedroom cottages, built as single-family homes in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, surround a pretty brick-walled courtyard with a heated saltwater pool. Each cottage is charming and beautifully appointed, with antiques and period accents that reflect the Old New Orleans sensibility. The layers of history shine through, and knowing that each cottage has a unique past adds to the richness of the experience.
Due to the property’s setup, there are no onsite parking facilities or reception desk. Private parking and check-in are at sister hotel Dauphine Orleans, a couple of minutes’ walk down the street. The friendly bell staff will transport luggage so that you don’t have to manage bags plus kids.
We stayed in Cottage Four, the only one that has two stories. New Orleans is a city of ghostly legends and this is no exception — Cottage Four is said to be haunted by a violin-playing soldier. We didn’t see a trace of him, but it’s a fun tidbit for kids who enjoy a few goosebumps.
The entire lower level is an elegant living and dining room, complete with a storage closet for luggage and gear. A private walled courtyard acts as an extension of the living area; if you close and lock the gate to the pool, children can have the run of the whole cottage.
On a family getaway, having this kind of space to spread out is glorious. Parents can slip downstairs to make a cup of coffee, or bring early-bird kids down to play, without disturbing those who like to sleep in. The wet bar conceals refrigerator/freezer drawers that work well for storing bottles or snacks, and they’re stocked daily with complimentary water and soft drinks.
Upstairs, each of the two bedrooms has a private bath, a dedicated hall closet and a balcony that overlooks the pool. The beds, though, are the real stars — they’re among the most comfortable I’ve ever slept in. Bathrooms are beautiful, lined in dark marble with generous walk-in showers. Best of all, the rooms feel amazingly spacious, especially by historic hotel standards.
My one caveat for Cottage Four is that the narrow wooden stairwell isn’t ideal for crawling babies or toddlers. With very young kids, opt for a single-story cottage instead. Larger families can book Cottages Five and Six as a single unit with a shared courtyard between them, or even rent the hotel in its entirety for a reunion or other big event.
A delicious breakfast buffet, including breads, charcuterie, cheeses, fruit and eggs cooked to order, is served in the garden house behind the pool. We carried our plates back to the courtyard to savor the morning sun with our muffins; guests who are feeling leisurely can have breakfast brought to their doors. There’s no full-service restaurant, but there’s also no need — this is New Orleans, after all, one of the great food capitals of the world. From this location, you’re walk-out to a nearly infinite array of dining.
Service and Amenities
Service at Audubon Cottages is a highlight. Every member of the staff, from the housekeepers to the breakfast chef, bends over backward to ensure that guests feel right at home. The property manager, Ms. Ada, is delightful with kids as well as adults; with a bit of advance notice, she’ll arrange to have board games and other diversions on hand. There’s also an onsite French Quarter butler, happy to help with dinner reservations and just about everything else.
The pool area is lavishly landscaped and the water is comfortable even in cool weather. Although this is not the kind of property where you’d want to let kids run wild, they can splash and play freely without people looking askance. When everyone is ready to venture out and explore, many of New Orleans’ landmark sights, from Jackson Square to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, are an easy walk away.
TIP: The Audubon Cottages are a luxury hotel and pricing, which starts at $US 800 per night, reflects that. For families who want something more value-oriented in the same location, the Dauphine Orleans is a good option to consider. I didn’t have a chance to tour it, but like the cottages, it’s part of the New Orleans Hotel Collection, with access to the same family amenities.
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Editor’s Note: Audubon Cottages hosted Ciao Bambino in order for us to review the property. As always, our opinions are our own. Photos by Lisa Frederick except where noted.