NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - It doesn't cost anything to go to a Mardi Gras parade, but if you want to stay a couple of nights in New Orleans, the hotel bill could run several thousand dollars.
Statista.com says the city has the sixth-highest hotel room rates in the country, and they're on the rise. They jumped 20% in the last quarter of last year, and for Mardi Gras weekend those rates will nearly double in some cases.
A room at the Ritz, will cost you $613 a night next weekend, the JW Marriott will cost you $499 a night and the Wyndham $353 a night.
If you booked this weekend, the rates are a bit cheaper, and the Nelis family from Scotland say there's no place they'd rather be.
"We done it 10 years ago for my 50th, now it's my 60th so we came back again," said Veronica Nelis.
Hotel occupancy is also expected to be strong. Last month, New Orleans was one of two top 25 markets to see double-digit increases in occupancy rates, according to City Business.
"We rebounded well last year. Christmas in New Orleans is paying off," said Mark Romig, with the New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corporation.
The Monteleone is already sold out. And if you want a hotel bargain, you may want to consider the west bank, where rooms are going for about half the downtown price.
New Orleans native Keith Sanchez, who now lives in Atlanta, never misses a Mardi Gras. But with high hotel prices, he and a friend from Atlanta are glad they have family to stay with here.
"Five-hundred bucks for a place to sleep, and most people don't sleep anyway. That's a bit high," said Quinn Meadows from Atlanta.
High prices or not, the Nelis family is ready to party, and they're already making plans for 2028.
"We'll come back for our 70th!," she said.
And it's clear that if they want to stay in certain hotels, they better book early.
Downtown New Orleans has about 20,000 hotel rooms.
In spite of new competition from short-term rentals, tourism officials say downtown hotel rates remain strong because of their location near the French Quarter.