St Louis Cathedral Peeking Up from French Quarter – View from French Quarter Sweet Private Patio
Though Mardi Gras and all the prerequisite partying (at least pre-COVID) is often what motivates many to put New Orleans on their must-visit list, I delight more in this Louisiana city’s historical roots. At the same time, I typically eschew centuries-old properties filled with antiques, in favor of the contemporary. So, imagine my surprise to discover ONE11 Hotel, an upscale, 83-room boutique accommodation that combines a sense of history with a stylish sense of the modern. And its location couldn’t be more ideal for lovers of New Orleans, situated on the edge of the French Quarter, a historic district where a new hotel had not been approved in decades. But given that its home is a historic building, it’s no wonder ONE11 Hotel was given the go ahead, debuting barely two months ago.
The facade of the hotel that was originally a sugar mill, with Loading Dock
Back in the 19th century, this area was bustling, not with today’s shoppers, diners and visitor’s drawn to the city’s stellar nightlife but with those working in the expansive, industrial Sugar District. Today’s ONE11 Hotel was once home — the eight-story building dates to 1884 — to the Louisiana Sugar Refining Company, a large sugar processing facility.
Crescent Sweet living area
Crescent Sweet bathroom
The building’s former life remains front and center in the hotel’s architecture and design. Whether you’re moving through the hallways, laying your head in your guest room, or lounging in one of the public spaces, you’ll find original exposed brick work, iron columns and wooden beams, with some architectural elements created when portions of the sugar factory’s wood were milled. In some cases, the original wood timbers were left rough and exposed, lending a dramatic air and reflecting a bygone era.
Even the dominant color palette of the hotel — caramel and other warm tones — is reflective of the property’s sugar refinery past, says David Ashen, Principal and Founder of dash design, a New York City hospitality design firm.
Guest room with glass-walled shower
Views of the French Quarter
Tapping into the site’s sugar history, the one-of-a-kind trio of stunning suites are given the moniker “Sweets.” One of the most spectacular may be the first-floor Sugar Sweet where, in the living room, a glass wall looks out to and provides direct access to the expansive courtyard with its cozy fire pit, and the 83-foot-long, heated swimming pool.
Both the luxe Riverbend Sweet and the French Quarter Sweet boast a private terrace. In fact, located on the eighth floor, the two-bedroom Riverbend Sweet has two terraces. But, no matter what guest room or suite you favor, you’ll have grand views, whether of the Mississippi River, the French Quarter or both.
Riverbend Sweet living area
The hotel manages to successfully meld the raw elements of the past with the clean, sleek lines of the contemporary, including the art chosen. For example, in the accommodations, over the headboards you’ll find the work of Manuel Santelices, a Chilean artist that, appropriately, references the city’s musical heritage. According to Ashen, “The overall design concept dictated that everything that was new in the hotel was purposely modern and simple,” whether art, furnishings or bathroom decor. The bathrooms are lined with imported porcelain and the shower is essentially a glass cube, again a design concept reflecting the simple and the modern.
Courtyard with swimming pool – view from Sugar Sweet
Courtyard with view of the Loading Dock
Courtyard and view of the Sugar Sweet
Courtyard view from the Sugar Sweet
Lobby with Exposed Brick
Batture Bistro + Bar
So many things at ONE11 Hotel pay homage to New Orleans, including the name of the Bistro. With the Mississippi winding beside the city, the land along the river’s edge that’s revealed at low tide is referred to as the batture.
Batture Bistro + Bar
Batture seating area
The Batture Bistro + Bar is casual yet chic, retaining the exposed brick walls and 19th century beams from when the space served as part of the sugar refinery. Among the design elements that radiate a relaxed elegance: the onyx wall that wraps around the rear of the bar and the contemporary but subdued lighting elements.
Batture Bistro + Bar Lounge with Backlit Bar
With Batture’s open plan, you’ll find plenty of seating options, including in the front patio that’s referred to as the Loading Dock. It’s certainly an appropriate name, given that this is the former location where train cars once brought the sugarcane that was off loaded and hauled through the brick archways, architectural gems that remain, paying tribute to the building’s past.
Batture allows for abundant people watching opportunities and impressive views of the French Quarter, thanks to its floor-to-eeiling glass walls. (In good weather, the outdoors beckons for al fresco dining and drinks as these walls are opened.)
The cuisine served in the Batture Bistro + Bar is oh-so creative, starting with the names of the dishes, where chefs steeped in the Louisiana culinary scene rely on locally-sourced produce, seafood and more. For example, The Conquistador is one of their signature breakfast items, named for the conquerors who came to New Orleans and brought along cheeses, preserves and pigs. How appropriate to create a fried-egg-on-a-croissant dish that includes smoked pork belly, Manchego and fig jam. The cheese- and ham-centric French Settlement, another signature breakfast item served on a croissant, reflects that the city’s French settlers brought pastries, cured meats and the art of cheese making. It’s no wonder that the croissant is filled with Brie and cane syrup-cured pork.
Brunch is a meal where you can splurge while also sampling many items associated with the Big Easy but with a twist. For example, the Creole Benedict features lump blue crab sourced from Lake Pontchartrain.
Made from king cake batter — used to make the celebratory cake — with a drizzle of cream cheese, the Mardi Gras Mini Waffles couldn’t be more aptly named. They are even decorated in purple, green and gold, the festival’s signature colors.
Batture Bistro + Bar
If you’re just in the mood for a wee bite, choose from one of the “Small Plates” that, like many items on the menu, offer a lesson in local history while referencing typical Creole and Cajun fare. For example, when the French-speaking Acadians (aka Cajuns) settled in Louisiana, they brought traditional specialty sausages called boudin. But in Louisiana, the sausage is spicy, and stuffing an egg roll with boudin — as is done here — makes it even more delectable.
Flatbreads are all the rage at Batture, with a section of the Small Plates menu dedicated to them. For example, it was the late New Orleans chef Paul Prudhomome who made blackening a much sought after style of preparing seafood and meat. (Blackened redfish was his signature dish at his restaurant K-Pauls.) So, it should be no surprise that one of the flatbreads is blackened chicken with Manchego. Another classic New Orleans dish, the muffuletta sandwich — invented in the early 1900s by a Sicilian grocery owner in the French Quarter — takes on a new look here. Instead of layers of cold cuts, cheeses and olives between two pieces of thick bread, here the charcuterie and other antipasti fixings are laid out on a flatbread.
When you’re thirsty, you’ll find the drink offerings to be quite varied. Aside from wine and local beers, choose from among Batture’s signature craft cocktails, such as the Satsuma Squirt, named for the sweet, juicy mandarine orange. Created by Joshua Matassa, the hotel’s Lead Bartender, this refreshing, rum-based drink relies on local rum that’s distilled in Lacassine, Louisiana.
If all of Batture’s seating options aren’t enticing or atmospheric enough for you to settle in with your beverage of choice, check out the rooftop terrace for its panoramic views.
I’m a New York City-based journalist, and photographer who specializes in hidden treasure travel, in other words under-the-radar experiences that provide insights into