New Orleans’ airport has, in recent history, only tenuously held onto its status as ‘international’, a couple of flights to Mexico and Canada just about elevating it beyond being a simple regional hub.
In the last year or so, though, two heavyweight European connections (British Airways to London and Condor Airlines to Frankfurt) and an ongoing expansion and upgrade programme are putting Louis Armstrong International in a much more prominent position on the air network map.
At present, the corresponding choice of airport hotels remains somewhat underwhelming, with one notable exception, the Crowne Plaza New Orleans Airport. With no onsite hotels, the airport is mostly served by a gaggle of mid-range options around the perimeter of its grounds, and while there are cheaper options in and around Kenner (the New Orleans suburb where the airport is located), the Crowne Plaza definitely delivers, value-wise.
A free shuttle bus delivers you to and from the airport in minutes, and as I arrived, be-suited businesspeople were being checked in efficiently by the very charming front desk staff. It’s quickly apparent that this is a well-maintained, modern hotel – clean design lines and a contemporary colour scheme that’s immediately reassuring in terms of quality.
Even on the short walk to the elevators, the comprehensive amenities present themselves to you – The Landing Restaurant, a bar that’s chic enough to pass as a downtown cocktail joint, the exercise room and outdoor pool.
My Guest Room with was clean and modern, and pleasingly comfortable without being fussy. Neutral earth tones and primary colours contrasted nicely with the dark redwoods of the fixtures, with an ergonomic workstation and comfy armchair providing for the work and lounging options. The bathroom was a blend of marble tops and a contemporary mix of wood and tiling. For not too much more money, the hotel’s suites come with a huge living space, and basic kitchen amenities.
I expected the restaurant, The Landing, to offer basic international menu items to cater for a transient clientele, but it surprisingly had a pleasing selection of New Orleans Cajun and creole classics including BBQ Shrimp, boudin balls, PoBoys and jambalaya – perfect for a first, or last, dive into the local cuisine. Their breakfast buffet was also a delight, with eggs cooked to order, and a full smorgasbord of cereals, pastries and tasty hot sides.
A very well-appointed outdoor pool with its own hot tub is a very welcome addition for decompressing after a long flight or winding down before boarding, and the exercise room offers easily enough equipment for even the most dedicated fitness fanatic.
It’s probable that, as Louis Armstrong International evolves and grows into the nest phase of its life, that the surrounding accommodation options will also find themselves having to upgrade. I’d say that the Crowne Plaza is one of the few places already equipped to welcome a new wave of international travellers, and that it remains the best choice for an airport hotel stay in New Orleans.