After a full day exploring St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana’s Northshore visitors have a fabulous new place to rest their heads—the Southern Hotel. The beautifully restored boutique hotel in downtown Covington is again welcoming guests almost 107 years to the day of its original opening.
The Southern hadn’t been a hotel for more than half a century when Covington attorney Lisa Condrey Ward and partners purchased the striking Mission-style property in 2011 and began restoration. Before its vacancy in 2003, the building had been used as a sanitarium, government offices, a drug store and courthouse.
Back in 1907 the hotel’s original owners touted its modern conveniences—“hot water!” “electric lights!”—and, thankfully, today’s Southern can boast those amenities as well. But guests will also find everything expected of a 21st-century boutique hotel—fitness and spa treatment rooms, a plunge pool, meeting spaces, a handsome bar and a restaurant coming later this summer.
The Southern’s new owners preserved significant architectural details of the building, keeping most of the original bricks and archways as well as the original layout of the hotel’s corridors. Ward handpicked many aspects of the hotel’s elegant décor, furnishings and art. Reflecting Covington’s history, the hotel conveys a distinct sense of its setting, thanks in part to the use of antiques and works by regional artists.
The Southern has 40 rooms and two suites, one of them named for author Walker Percy, who called Covington home. Numerous sitting areas, indoors and out, invite guests to slow down and succumb to the hotel’s charms.
The Southern Hotel is bound to become a centerpiece of downtown Covington’s historic district, already popular for its numerous galleries, antiques shops, boutiques and nightlife. More than 15 restaurants are within easy walking distance of the hotel, making it a great hub for a romantic getaway or girlfriends’ weekend.
- The Covington Farmers Market, held twice a week, is popular with food lovers.
- Covington Brewhouse offers Saturday morning beer tastings and tours at.
- The 28-mile-long Tammany Trace, the state’s first and only Rails to Trails Conservancy hike/bike path, begins just blocks away (bike rentals are available).
- Downtown Covington hosts many events, including art walks, free concerts, the Three Rivers Arts Festival each fall and, in the spring, the new culinary fest, A Taste of Covington.
Chef Jeffrey Hansell will lead the hotel’s much-anticipated restaurant, Ox Lot 9, opening later this summer. Coming to Covington from Birmingham, Ala., where he served as executive chef for the lauded Veranda, Hansell previously cooked at Commanders Palace and Lüke in New Orleans. Ox Lot 9 will showcase Hansell’s upscale but casual take on Southern and Louisiana flavors.