Beside a burbling fountain, a pair of friends parlent Fran?ais over rum cocktails. Nearby, an aficionado relaxes into a cigar, sunbeams catching his exhaled curlicues. Light orchestral music drifts in from a wedding next door. Clouds pass blithely across patch of blue overhead.

A half block away, Bourbon Street carouses on with abandon. Inside these courtyard walls, however, it’s the type of idyllic spring afternoon that births contented sighs in the breasts of locals and prompts tourists to check real estate listings.

And that’s precisely the aim of new boutique hotel The Celestine: to allow guests to experience French Quarter life at its best.

“We’re small enough to feel more like one of those classic European inns or a luxury apartment in a cool neighborhood,” hotelier Robért LeBlanc said of the 10-room endeavor that opened in February. “Small places give people a better sense of what neighborhoods are like, what we call the terroir of New Orleans.”

Indeed, those looking to find — or rediscover — the authentic French Quarter will appreciate The Celestine’s 727 Toulouse St. address, a mere block and a half from institutions like Preservation Hall, the Toulouse Theater, destination-worthy independent restaurants and the galleries of Royal Street.

Those with a penchant for history will appreciate walking the same halls and pied-á-terres as some of New Orleans’ most famed characters in a building that dates back to 1791.

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Modern amenities and timeless elegance meet in rooms decorated by designer Sara Ruffin Costello of New York and New Orleans.

The hotel’s namesake, Celestine Peychaud, was married to one such figure. In his apothecary, Haitian-born Antoine Amédée Peychaud mixed the first batches of what would become Peychaud’s Bitters, the foundation of a sazarac and the concoction that cemented New Orleans’ reputation as a cocktail city in perpetuity.

When the couple lived at 727 Toulouse, Celestine insisted the first floor remain residential rather than a retail space, bucking the norms of the day, LeBlanc said.

“She was always really intentional about people feeling like this was a home,” he added. “The name is a nod to her influence.”

On-site cocktail bar Peychaud’s, opened in 2021 and now part of the hotel, pays further homage to that heritage. It also marks the first time two of the city’s most celebrated hospitality companies — LeBlanc’s LeBlanc + Smith, which also runs The Chloe on St. Charles Avenue, and the James Beard Award-winning CureCo. — have teamed up on a project.

The family of Mother Henriette DeLille, a nominee for Catholic sainthood and co-founder of the country’s first Black convent, owned the property in the early 1800s. DeLille and Madeline Erlich, who transformed the building into the Hotel Maison de Ville in 1944, both have suites named in their honor.

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The courtyard fountain still working in The Celestine soothed playwright Tennessee Williams in his small nearby apartment as he wrote parts of 'A Streetcar Named Desire.'

And, for a time, that same burbling courtyard fountain soothed the nerves of lauded playwright Tennessee Williams in the small hotel apartment where he penned part of Pulitzer Prize-winner “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

The patina of history imbues every level of The Celestine, despite a stylish refresh and modernization by LeBlanc’s team.

In a queen room overlooking Toulouse Street, a mutton-chopped gentleman peers out from within a frame, one of dozens of antique paintings discovered during renovations that now grace the walls. New Orleans-born designer Sara Ruffin Costello — who gave The Chloe its vibrant, tropical swagger — seamlessly mixes vintage furniture pieces with modern, celestial-themed artwork throughout The Celestine.

“You want people to experience the history and heritage, and get a sense of 21st-century New Orleans art and culture,” LeBlanc said.

Of course, some things have changed. In its latest reincarnation, the hotel’s bright and airy quarters are larger, thanks to a remodel that removed two guest rooms. A handful boast luxurious soaking tubs.

Much like The Chloe, in-room amenities showcase the city’s independent makers.

Featherlight cotton robes come from Lekha; bath products from Oxalis Apothecary. The fully loaded mini bar, another nod to the building’s heritage, comes stocked with local products.

Many of The Celestine’s inherent joys — catching music without leaving your bed, rare views onto the secret world of French Quarter courtyards, lazing on a gallery overlooking a festive street — came with the building. The rest is designed to celebrate a sense of place, said James Jeffrey, The Celestine’s managing director.

Guests are greeted at the hotel’s iconic door and led back through a narrow hall and beyond the courtyard. Check in happens in a guests-only reception parlor, which also offers fresh pastries, espresso and cocktails.

“We want it to feel like you’re being hosted, like it’s the old school French Quarter,” Jeffrey said.

What's within walking distance of The Celestine?

One of The Celestine’s biggest perks for staycationing locals — or anyone who’s already done ghost tours and Jackson Square — is its proximity to some of the best reasons to come into the French Quarter.

Just downstairs

Peychaud’s, the latest from an award-winning bar team, offers libations.

Two minutes

The independent Toulouse Theater brings cutting edge music acts to the Quarter.

Browse the lavish antique collection at the palatial M.S. Rau.

Three minutes

Catch some of the best jazz musicians in the city at Preservation Hall.

Sup at chic Sylvain, another LeBlanc + Smith joint.

Or go classic with jazz brunch at Brennan’s.

Six minutes

Marvel at otherworldly nature photography at the Frank Relle Gallery.

Sample the work of one of New Orlean’s best-loved barmen, Chris Hannah, at Jewel of the South.

Experience a lively Friday lunch at Galatoire’s.

Fifteen minutes

Catch a Broadway Production at the glamorous Saenger Theatre.

Jessica Fender writes about travel. Email her at Fender@TravelerBroads.com.

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