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Just an hour's drive (or less) from New Orleans lies a charming small town: Covington, in the Louisiana Northshore. It's home to sweet boutiques, art galleries, and fine restaurants, but the epicenter is now the Southern Hotel, one of the finest and prettiest properties below the Mason Dixon Line.
Budget Level: Upscale ($150-$300/night)
Lodging Type: Boutique Hotel (40 rooms and 2 suites)
Originally established in 1907, the Southern Hotel was built as a retreat where visitors would flock for the area’s cool breezes, piney woods, and mineral springs. After serving guests for 50 years, the property was later home to a handful of important events and businesses in the town, but hadn't welcomed guests for decades. Luckily, local attorney Lisa Condrey Ward and family members bought the property and began renovation. The hotel re-opened the summer of 2014 and quickly became the centerpiece of the downtown historic district. Here, 40 rooms and two suites comprise the stunner of a property, where old photos of the hotel line the wall, beautiful furniture and local art is perfectly placed, a bubbling fountain and plunge pool sit outside, and the lobby of the hotel is now affectionately described as “Covington’s living room.”
The crowd here tends to be pretty and preppy, milling about with shopping bags in their Lilly Pulitzer duds. Come evening, the Cypress Bar buzzes with locals and guests who sip classic cocktails among the murals from Grahame Menage. It truly feels as if you've stepped back into time and is an absolute delight to visit.
Who Will Love It
Design lovers, foodies, and those favoring luxury will likely have this hotel on their must-visit list. Make a reservation at the on-site Oxlot 9. Helmed by Jeffrey Hansell, the restaurant is named for the areas used to tie up horses and oxen that were built into the city’s grid in the 1800s; the hotel’s west wing was built on part of the original Ox Lot 9 and serves Gulf-inspired southern fare. Don't miss the deviled farm eggs and Knife & Fork chicken biscuit.
Who Might Not
Those looking for a hotel chain experience. Here, we saw couples, wedding parties, folks of all ages, and families at the hotel: really, there's something for everyone.
The beautiful design is hard to beat, but there's a surprisingly small and simple in-house spa that offers the best massage we've ever experienced. Guests can relax in the plunge pool and then book a facial, signature house massage, or body service. (But get the massage--it's practically life-changing.)
Parking, bottled water, Wifi, and morning muffins and coffee are included in the room rate.
Fees and Extra Costs You Should Know About
All food and beverages — which you'll definitely want to sample — cost extra.
For all its stylishness, the Southern Hotel is fairly affordable. We found room rates for under $200 for the traditional king room this fall. Book online for the best rate.
The hotel lies about 40 minutes from New Orleans, just across Lake Pontchartrain. It's an easy day or overnight trip from NOLA, but best to spend an entire weekend for the full experience.
In the Neighborhood
Downtown Covington is a charming, history-rich pocket of town that's home to a smattering of art galleries, boutiques, bars, a fantastic farmer's market (Wednesday and Saturday) and Del Porto Ristorante and LOLA--two of Louisiana's best restaurants.
If you're looking for loads of charm and hospitality, a stay at the Southern Hotel in Covington offers the complete package.