In 1967 New Orleans, the St. Gregory hotel stands as the standard of luxury and hospitality. It's been losing money for a very long time and the owner, Warren Trent, has been unable to renew the mortgage. His young and efficient general manager Peter McDermott thinks he can arrange a loan from a union, but it will mean giving the union a foothold in the local hospitality industry. Another alternative would be to sell out to Curtis O'Keefe owner of a major hotel chain who would very much like to add the St. Gregory to his portfolio but would destroy its character in the process. Among the guests in the hotel are the Duke and Duchess of Lanbourne. He is on the short list to be named British ambassador to Washington, but has struck a child with his car. Another guest is Keycase Milne, who is in the hotel to ply his trade - he's a thief.