Hotel Peter & Paul, New Orleans, USA

“Y’all ok out here, just chilling and sipping?” – after a magical stay at Hotel Peter & Paul, we say this (at least) daily in our house.

We arrived before our room was ready, so found a shady spot in a brick-paved courtyard and ordered a cocktail. The drinks have names like ‘Mother Superior’ and ‘Dearly Beloved’ and it’s already clear that a pious presence saturates everything. Indeed, our much-appreciated shade was cast by the soaring stone walls of the adjacent church, its arched stained glass windows rising above the dinky, curly cast iron furniture and two tired travellers in need of a cold shower and a lie down.

Hotel Peter & Paul is housed within a huddle of Henry Howard buildings in the Marigny district of New Orleans. The former catholic church, rectory and schoolhouse were acquired and renovated by brilliant hotel US group Ash NYC to create this theatrical and soulful destination hotel.

The quiet residential neighbourhood of brightly painted houses along tree-lined streets is well-placed for those wanting to visit the legendary jazz clubs on Frenchman Street (a tasteful alternative to Bourbon Street for those seeking live music), and the dive bars of Bywater in the opposite direction.

The interior design is cinematic. It’s atmospheric and quietly over-the-top, embracing the history of the buildings and the mood of the city without being trite. There’s religious iconography and monastic oil paintings dotted around but there’s nothing sombre or sepuchral here. The overriding style is one of pastoral chintz and southern farmhouse chic thanks to all the gingham upholstery and antique furniture – sourced in Europe, apparently. I read that the use of clashing primary colours throughout was inspired by the vivid pigments found in religious paintings and tapestries.

Motherly staff are perfectly versed in great Southern hospitality. “Y’all ok out here, just chilling and sipping?” asked the bartender as she replenished our water carafe.

Our room was ready on time but it didn’t quite live up to the marketing materials. I booked the cheapest room so can’t complain – we all know that those entry-level rooms don’t see the light of Instagram day – but a truly great hotel pays as much attention to them as the suites.

While the hotel’s social media accounts peddle freestanding baths and four posters, we stayed in a characterless little room on the ground-floor. With a metal bed pushed up to the wall, a desk and little more, it felt more ascetic than atmospheric. I’ve stayed in a monastery for an assignment and didn’t intend to repeat the experience. One foot in the bathroom and I take the ascetic bit back – there’s bright yellow striped tiles and a spoily walk-in shower. Toiletries in brown apothecary bottles have Hotel Peter & Paul branding and an expensive, amber-laced scent.

I appreciated the in-room city guide (available to buy), handheld clothes steamer and charmingly written, cloth-bound guest information folder with excellent local picks from the team of staff. Whoever is in charge of brand and copywriting here is doing a really excellent job.

71 guest rooms are dotted across the schoolhouse, convent and rectory (which houses the Elysian bar and restaurant) and, according to the Receptionist, come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and styles to best preserve the original layout of the buildings, with cosy attic rooms and multi-level suites.

The Elysian Bar got busier in the evening and seems to be a bit of a neighbourhood favourite. It’s operated by a local outfit, which always helps foster loyalty, and does the ubiquitous coffee-cocktails-small-plates thing but with an unmistakable NOLA flavour. We ordered shrimp and grits, confit chicken leg, and Louisiana blood oranges with roasted beets. Across the hall is a coffee bar with blue and white tiles, a lemon tree mural and striped circus-tent ceiling. Perfect for a morning iced latte to go, while the deep ochre cocktail bar is the spot for a late-night sazerac. A small souvenir shop, housed within an antique wardrobe near Reception, stocks thoughtful products including bright yellow branded umbrellas, tarot cards, bath salts and local-interest books.

The bottom line:

All saints no sinners. A deep sense of place, incredible interiors and very good service does a Nice Hotel Stay make. But a pool would be nice.

2317 Burgundy St, New Orleans, LA 70117, USA
From £90