The Soniat House Hotel in New Orleans is one of those hotels that you did not really believed still existed in our all mod-cons world, writes Steve Zacharanda.

The building is on the US National Register of Historic Places and as soon as you step into the carriageway where horses used to enter it is like stepping back in time.

The court yard is a vision of green as century old trees reach into the sky and the smell of coffee wafts around you.

A feeling of tranquility quickly made me into one of the most relaxed Brummies on the planet.

The feeling of an era long gone continues in the drawing room where Clare the cat seemed continuously asleep, the manager said she never left the hotel and I can't blame her.

Staff like Michele, Randolph and Irving all have accents to die for and manners that would not be out of place in Buckingham Palace.

In the corner is an honour bar, on an antique dresser naturally, where you can have champagne by the glass amongst other wee drams.

The hotel is handily placed, two blocks from the world famous Bourbon Street and one from French Market.

As this little corner of the French Quarter is mostly residential the bedlam of Bourbon Street is far enough away not to disturb the peace of the hotel.

Opened in 1984 by Frances and Rodney Smith the Soniat House reflects their passion for French antiques. Part of the hotel is even a quaint antiques shop. Every one of the 30 rooms is different and all have antique furniture in, hence the sensible ban on children under 10. The tvs are delightfully discreet, after all a 42 inch plasma wouldn't really add anything to these splendid rooms.

This was a boutique hotel before the over used term boutique hotel was even dreamt up.

Mr and Mrs Smith are on good terms with that other Mr and Mrs Smith - Brangelina, who often place visiting guests in the Soniat.

Robert De Niro stayed here last month, in the $675 suite probably, as it he probably wanted to feel the master of the house.

The great thing about this little gem is honeymooning couples or tourists can afford to stay without breaking the bank. And there are not many places that regularly host A-listers can do that.

All the rooms in the old slave quarters are both quaint and delightful and at under $200 worth every penny.

Breakfast is served in the court yard and includes chicoree coffee and buttered scones along with mouthwatering jams, or preserves as the locals call them.

Guests also get to use the New Orleans Athletic Club a few blocks away which is worth a visit alone, as it is the second oldest gym in America.

And this being new Orleans it has an oak paneled bar in the middle of it.

However, I doubt guests spend too much time there because like Clare the cat they probably never want to leave the faded grandeur of the Soniat House Hotel.