For the last few years when I’ve been fortunate enough to be a tourist in my own hometown, I’ve stayed in hotels in the French Quarter or within blocks of it. This year I truly wanted a completely different experience.

I can’t get over the dramatic growth of Downtown New Orleans proper. Certainly with the success of the Saints and the ever increasing exodus back to the CBD, streets like Poydras and of course Loyola Avenue have seen huge improvements. The latest and greatest iteration of The Hyatt Regency New Orleans on Loyola (601 Loyola Avenue New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, 70113 / 504.561.1234) has become the central point of the resurgence.

With nearly 1,200 guestrooms available, each space is modernly appointed and extremely comfortable. To be honest, when I’m traveling around being a tourist, I spend more time out of the room and hotel than I do in them. One of the most important comfort factors for me is the a/c. I know it’s a small thing, but when you’re ready to pass out at the end of a long day in the city, the level of chill in the room needs to be on point and fast. With that said, my room got to ice cold levels faster than Andre 3000.

Among some of the other standout features for me included the on premises Starbucks, 8 Block Kitchen and bar which you can see from below via the balcony as you walk out of your room, the 24 hour fitness center, Bywater Pool Deck & Bar, the ultra-swank Regency Club, and the 24 hour fill-every-need convenience center. One other aspect of The Hyatt that stood out to me was that within the over 200,000 hotel, there’s tons of chill out and lounge areas throughout. Not just the lobby, but throughout the property. The lobby is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen in recent memory and it invites you to cop a seat and read the paper, enjoy people watching, or take in the back and forth of the brand new streetcar line that passes right in from of the main entrance.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and a place for the storied hotels and properties within the bounds of the French Quarter, but to get a true compass and feel for what’s going on in Nola at this moment, staying downtown in the CBD is the truly the here and now. With it’s close proximity to The Superdome and Arena, The Arts District, easy access to the I-10, and still within blocks of Canal Street and the like, The Hyatt Regency is near the top of our list of recommended spots to hang your beads and stay awhile.