A Haute Guide To The Best Of The Big Easy

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shutterstock_712726579Photo Credit: Cracker Clips Stock Media

Check out our comprehensive guide to the haute way to stay and play as well as the best bites in the Big Easy, a.k.a. New Orleans!


STAY

Old 77
Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery

New Orleans is both an old and young city. Old in the sense that it has history, that it’s landmarks are timeless, that it is otherwordly. It is young in the sense that it is FUN. The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery is more of the latter, though it could fit the bill for both. Rooted in NOLA’s past, the Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery is the latest incarnation of a building with a rich, storied history. Once upon a time, its lobby was a bustling warehouse that served the Port of New Orleans with an impressive array of goods including canvas, rope, and tobacco. Today, this brick building is an art lover’s paradise: its walls are covered in art, from the Where Y’Art annex located just off our lobby to the art from students of the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, the city’s legendary tuition-free high school of the arts, that can be found in all of its guestrooms. Its lobby also features a rotating art gallery with original works by NOCCA students, alumni and faculty. It’s also modern in the sense that all amenities are offered: there’s free Wi-fi, a pillow menu, a spiritual menu—free books of faith are offered—pet welcome amenities and even pet room service. Dare we say it? There’s also even a pet spiritual menu. The best rooms are the artist lofts, where you’ll find a massive king bed, hard wood floors, exposed brick, a walk in shower, massive windows and a curated experience in each suite that has been personally crafted by one of three local artists with art work and accessories to set the tone for a unique New Orleans experience. A separate sitting area with a fold-out sofa and second TV make this the perfect spot for entertaining friends before or after you hit the town. While in town, make sure to dine at the hotel’s signature eatery, Compère Lapin, which has been named New Orleans’ 2016 Restaurant of the Year by The Times-Picayune. Che Nina Compton accentuates the beautiful and indigenous ingredients of the Gulf while melding the flavors of Compton’s Caribbean upbringing with her love of French and Italian cuisine. Her brunch is exquisite, as are the clever and eccentrically presented cocktails.

Windsor Court Hotel exterior
Windsor Court Hotel

For a hotel that screams “pure luxury,” try the Windsor Court Hotel, a location beloved by the Hollywood set that also doubles as a shooting location. In 2012, this glamorous, 23-story hotel completed a $22 million restoration to its 316 guest rooms and suites as well as its Club Level lounge; reimagined its Le Salon; refreshed its signature restaurant, Grill Room; and added the Cocktail Bar and the Spa at Windsor Court. Guests will experience an awe-inspiring hotel that seamlessly blends traditional English décor with French Vogue, the hallmark of New Orleans. There are European antiques and period reproductions from the 17th and 18th century, high ceilings, intricate moldings, rich woods, beautiful marble and woven floor coverings. Essentially, it’s stunning—and, as with all of our personal favorite hotel—you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. If you fancy an old-fashioned stay—timeless, we’d call it—that still offers every possible modern amenity you can think of, Windsor Court is the place for you. The views from your private balcony or bay window are epic—especially the balcony rooms that overlook the Mississippi. If you’re an early riser, you’re in luck: the sunrises from these particular rooms are majestic. All rooms are decorated in a soft palette of colors that enhance the elegantly appointed furniture. Those who stay in a suite will find a spacious living room separated from the bedroom by French doors, a wet bar stocked with a European mini-bar, a dressing room adjoining the bedroom, a flat-screen television in both the bedroom and living room, and an Italian marble bath.  The rooms and suites also offer upgraded amenities, such as Frette linens; Spa at Windsor Court green tea lemongrass bath products; personalized evening turndown service; Keurig coffee makers; plush terry robes and slippers; and state-of-the-art electronics, including iHome docking stations, flat screen HD TVs and jack pack connections that allow guests to seamlessly connect their personal technology to the TV. The hotel also features a spacious Presidential Suite on the 22nd floor that has been home to A-List celebrities and dignitaries alike. At 2,700 square feet, the two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath James J. Colemen Presidential Suite features beautiful furnishings, original artwork, two private landscaped terraces and a baby grand piano played by the likes of Billy Joel. The Presidential Suite features all the needs of a home away from home including a library, dining room, two living rooms, a Butler’s pantry and a full entertainment center. Those who stay on floors 19-22  also have access to the newly renovated Club Level Lounge, a gorgeous and elevated experience where guests can enjoy extended continental breakfast, traditional English afternoon tea, and evening cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, desserts and cordials while gazing out at the peaceful Mississippi.


DINE

Emeril's

Although it might be hard to venture away from such a picture-perfect hotel, New Orleans is known for having some of the best food in the world—so get going! The perennial, long-standing favorites are Commander’s Palace (which, as you might remember above, was even a subject of this year’s film festival), the be-all, end-all to fancy New Orleans dining. This perennial Garden District fan favorite for the upper crust offers the best deal in New Orleans—$.25 martinis at lunchtime (with the purchase of an entree, naturally). You can keep your pearls and heels on for a dinner later at Emeril’s, the first and favored eatery of world-famous chef Emeril Lagasse. Lagasse’s famed flagship restaurant is housed in a renovated pharmacy warehouse in New Orleans’ Warehouse District and serves up pure, New Orleans-style cuisine with chef de cuisine David Slater at its helm. Signature items include Emeril’s New Orleans barbecued shrimp, served with a petite rosemary biscuit; cast-iron baked escargots; an adouille-crusted drum served with glazed pecans and Creole meunière. VIPs can dine at the Chef’s Table, an intimate set-up for four, completely hidden from the prying eyes of the dining room guests. Those who love Lagasse are in luck: in addition to his plethora of NOLA eateries, he also just opened Meril, his first NOLA eatery in 18 years, inspired by his international travels. Make sure to try the Ace Hotel’s weird but wonderful Josephine Estelle, an Italian and Southern-inspired fusion eatery with delicious, craft cocktails and perfectly prepared, beautifully presented bites as well as Peche, a coastal seafood haunt with a unique, modern approach to old world cooking methods from award-winning Chef Donald Link.

Caribbean Room dining room
Caribbean Room dining room

Photo Credit: Christian Horan

A bucket-list item is Josh Besh and Chris Lusk’s takeover of iconic locale The Caribbean Room at the Ponchartrain Hotel where each gent is required to wear a jacket (they’re available at the door in case your guy “conveniently” forgets his) and where each lady is urged to get elegant for a quietly understated evening. The Caribbean Room features rattan furniture and white tablecloths and upholds the room’s existing Charles Reinike mural. Executive Chef Chris Lusk infuses a fresh, contemporary energy to the menu that still evokes the nostalgia of the original restaurant, though it’s definitely updated: in the restaurant’s lounge you’ll find a brightly colored portrait of Lil’ Wayne. Although it’s touristy, Cafe du Monde’s coffee and beignets still hold a special place in our hearts—and stomachs. Moving on, make sure to try the weekend jazz brunch at Arnaud’s, a fine dining eatery that’s been around for almost a century (it celebrates its 100-year birthday in 2018). It’s a special spot that specializes in Creole cuisine, and feels fancy regardless of the time of day. The brunch is amazing: gobble up Southern bites and down French 75’s while a live jazz band mills around the room and serenades you tableside with your own personal song picks.


 

PLAY

A musician plays on a New Orleans street corner
A musician plays on a New Orleans street corner

Photo Credit: GNOTCC, Ron Calamia and NewOrleansOnline.com

Anyone who has even heard of New Orleans likely has heard that the city is famous for three things: Bourbon Street, Magazine Street and live music. While there’s so much more to the city than that, you wouldn’t be wrong. Festival-goers from Hollywood will want to stay away from Bourbon (it’s much easier to get noticed) but you might want to explore the hidden enclaves or Frenchman Street, where anyone can wander into a plethora of nightclubs and find world-class big-band music, jazz and brass brand affairs every single night…and no one will care who you are, they’ll be far too into the music to notice. For shopping, head to Magazine Street in the Garden District, where you’ll be able to shop ’til you drop for antiques or at tiny yet adorable fashion boutiques. To get into the spirit of things (especially given that the film festival is close to Halloween-time), we suggest taking a nighttime ghost tour and checking out, as many of you did during the fourth season of American Horror Story, the real-life horror house of Delphine LaLaurie, as well as the tomb of voodoo priestess Marie Laveau in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.

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