The Drifter, New Orleans

Made for "confident outsiders", The Drifter is a hotel where anyone is welcome, as long as they're prepared to get stuck in. Housed inside a revamped roadside motel from the 1950s, this New Orleans hotspot opened in 2017 - and caused quite a splash. The whole shebang centres around an outdoor pool (you can't miss it for the disco ball and "toptional" sunbathers) which hosts raucous day parties that draw an eclectic mix of visitors and locals (many of whom are members). A roster of events - from yoga to burlesque shows to live jazz - keeps the vibes going year-round.

A member of Design Hotel's portfolio, The Drifter's style is arguably more LA than NOLA; more hipster country club than Deep South hotel. There's lots of polished concrete and a pastel-coloured palm tree mural in the lobby, which is adorned with mid-century furniture, local art and achingly cool staff. There are just 20 rooms here, though if you're doing it right you won't be spending much time inside anyway.

It makes sense that The Drifter's name was inspired by the Beat Generation, a group of artists who floated from place to place and created a free-spirited vibe wherever they went. Staying here feels like both a nostalgic blast from the past as well as an eye-opening snapshot of the now. It might not be the most convenient spot in town, but The Drifter is more of a mindset than a location, and here you'll find much of the magic of NOLA comes to you.


With polished concrete walls, Oaxacan tiles on the floor and vintage radios playing jazz, each of The Drifter's rooms exudes a surprising sense of calm (even if they do wrap around the pool). Bathrooms comes stashed with Aesop products and pastel-pink fridges with boxed water (rather than plastic). We love.

What's for breakfast?

There's a coffee stand which serves cups of joe from La Colombe as well as a selection of baked goods. Most people aren't up in time for breakfast.

How about lunch and dinner?

The Drifter seems to advocate a liquid lunch over anything else - guests and visitors start cracking into the rose pre-noon. That being said, chips and ramen bowls can be ordered at the bar and at the weekends there's usually a string of food trucks serving Caribbean roti, Colombian food, and Japanese izakaya.

Is there a bar?

Yes and it's the centre of the action. There's an impressive selection of craft beers, local wines, fruit-forward cocktails, frozen drinks and sake. Oh, and they're all reasonably priced too.


The swimming pool is the showpiece here. Beyond that there's a bar and free wifi.

Things you should know

Have we mentioned this is a party hotel? Not one for those seeking peace and quiet.

The Drifter is situated a little out of the city centre, so expect to take a few ubers (around $9) to the French Quarter while you're here.

Within a short walk you can find...

Parkway Tavern, home to the very best po'boys in town.