A lot of people ask me where celebrities stay in New Orleans because they know that I know where a few of them choose to make their lodgings. I’m not at liberty to say where any of those boutique inns might be. I’ll leave it up to you, dear reader, to connect the dots.
I don’t know where Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood stay in New Orleans. I don’t know where Tyler Perry stays in New Orleans. I don’t know where Ann Rice stays in New Orleans when she revisits her home town. I don’t know where Ashton Kushner stays in New Orleans. I don’t know where Beyoncé stays in New Orleans, though I assume it’s with her sister, Solange, who lives nearby. I don’t know where Tom Hanks stays in New Orleans and I don’t know where the Kardashians stay in New Orleans.
I am making all these statements on the record.
I do know where I would like President Trump to stay the next time he visits New Orleans. I would like him to stay at La Belle Esplanade.
After his inauguration, I wrote our president a letter, by hand, naturally, and I invited him to stay at La Belle Esplanade. Melanie and I are goodwill ambassadors for the New Orleans state of mind. We refuse to talk politics at our New Orleans boutique experience inn. Everyone interested in New Orleans is welcome. La Belle Esplanade can be the Mar-a-Lago of New Orleans. It could be either good or bad for business depending on who we’re trying to attract, but it will be good for the storied history of our New Orleans boutique experience inn.
I always say that our inn is like the Ritz, if the Ritz were located in an old historic mansion and the Ritz was run by two people. The guests who self-select to stay with us are always an interesting and well-informed, colorful and intriguing, cast of characters from all walks of life who have something to say. You’ll fit right in.
We don’t have a lot of gold plate or gilding at La Belle Esplanade, but we do have a THING FROM OUTER SPACE in the New Orleans Oddtiarium, which is a real museum, of sorts, housed in our lobby. There is always something to look at in our inn. Also in our lobby has a mirror labeled, “Your New Orleans Face.” Stare at it as long as you like. There is also a mirror labeled, “Saint or Sinner?” Stare hard into that mirror to determine where you fall on the spectrum. In introspection, as with so many, many other things, honesty is the best policy.
Will You Meet Celebrities in New Orleans?
When celebrities, or any other Tom, Dick, or Jane, really, stay in a French Quarter hotel, the French Quarter concierges will tell their guests that if they want a real New Orleans experience, they should go to Port of Call. Yep, that’s what we all do when we live in New Orleans; we stand in line and yuk it up on the sidewalk outside Port of Call, waiting 45 minutes to an hour to eat a juicy hamburger and a baked potato. That’s what New Orleans is famous for. Don’t get me wrong, Port of Call makes a good burger. I don’t know if I would travel halfway around the world for it. Speaking only for myself, I’d go to New Haven, Conn., where the hamburger was invented.
You can go to Port of Call, too. It’s on the corner of Dauphine Street and Esplanade Avenue, a very different kind of Esplanade Avenue from where our inn’s address is located. We are in a very quiet part of Esplanade Avenue, just off the tourist grid. I always think that you didn’t come all the way to New Orleans to eat a hamburger with a bunch of tourists, but I’m not here to judge. If you ask me where is the best hamburger in New Orleans, I’m probably not going to say Port of Call. Port of Call makes a good burger, but I don’t like to stand in line with a gaggle of people in tank tops and flip flops talking about what they plan to do on Bourbon Street tonight. Unlike Wimpy, I don’t eat a lot hamburgers to begin with. Also, I don’t like to stand in line—especially when the line is a made up of a bunch of people who don’t know anything about New Orleans. Your experience may vary, but you don’t need to stand in line to get a good meal in New Orleans. Native New Orleanians don’t usually stand in line, and that’s not because they’ve made reservations beforehand. Some of the best meals in New Orleans can be had with no wait at the places only the locals know. If you want to embed yourself in New Orleans culture and savor an authentic New Orleans experience, read on—
Let’s take a little cartoon interlude:
I don’t know where Popeye, Olive Oyl or Wimpy stay in New Orleans. When Popeye wants to treat his date to oysters on the halfsk shell in their city, they go to Roughouse’s Diner (see :43 of the clip above). When he wants to treat her to oysters in New Orleans, I do know where he takes her for luchsk. Like many other people who are from out of town, they go to Acme Oyster House in the French Quarter. When guests stay with us, we send them a bit further afield, to Cassamento’s for the best oysters in New Orleans, and, possibly, in the whole world.
Will you meet celebrities in New Orleans?
When real celebrities stay in New Orleans, not fictional celebrities like Popeye, real celebrities tend to stay off the tourist grid, off the tourist radar, in the real New Orleans, where people just live out their lives rich with culture and small incidents that make every day memorable. There is no place else like New Orleans. When you get out of the guidebook, you learn that. You’ll bump into real people who live here, and who make our city tick, and you’ll run into some real New Orleans celebrities, too.
Our records indicate that E.C. Segar stayed at our humble address in 1932, while he was researching material for a stupendous New Orleans-based Popeye-Sea Hag epic adventure. This was well before Frau Schmitt (who is the better half of this operation) and I took over. Elzie Segar may be buried in Santa Monica, but we like to think that his heart was touched by his time in New Orleans, as most people’s hearts are. Good memories are made in New Orleans. Good memories are made on our street every day, in fact.
When celebrities chose where celebrities stay in New Orleans, a lot of their decision is based on breakfast. Celebrities get plenty of good chow every day but how often do they get a taste of good New Orleans delicacies in the morning accompanied by good conversation? You’re on the right website to learn that answer. Here’s a peek at our celebrity dining room. We believe E.C. Segar ate here in 1932:
Frau Schmitt, who is the better half of this operation, is in charge of the dining room. We aren’t licensed to cook so we don’t. We turn this seeming disadvantage to an advantage for our guests. Every morning, Frau Schmitt dispatches me out to make my rounds of the city to pick up what we think will be interesting on any given day. Our guests get a taste of the real New Orleans. You don’t visit New Orleans to have scrambled eggs and bacon, or, maybe you do. If you do, we’re not here to judge. You’ll be better served at the Holiday Inn Express on O’Keefe Avenue. We hope you like the room, too. Compare the New Orleans Holiday Inn Express website to the humble yet interesting website you’re on now. Do you notice any differences? Which do you think offers a celebrity caliber visit to New Orleans?
Life in New Orleans is a moveable feast. Every day is a buffet, why shouldn’t breakfast be? Every morning, Frau Schmitt and I curate what we serve based on what we think will be interesting to our guests. We do accommodate dietary restrictions—just let us know beforehand. No worries. There is always enough good food to enjoy in New Orleans. Good food, coffee with chicory, and the best ingredient of all to start the day: informed conversation about what New Orleans is all about. Good memories are made at La Belle Esplanade. Ask a celebrity.
We live in a kaleidoscope of a city. When we first moved here, we were just as blinkered as our guests often are. We know the lay of the land. We know the local culture. Heck, we are part of the local culture and our inn is a colorful local landmark. When celebrities stay where celebrities stay they don’t want something squeezed out of a tube or hatched out of a can. They, much like you, are looking for a boutique curated experience with advice from seasoned hospitality professionals who don’t make a big deal about who they are. Celebrities, like you, are just looking for the best New Orleans experience they can get off the tourist grid. Even if they don’t choose to stay at La Belle Esplanade (I’m not at liberty to say if they do or they don’t) they seek out the kind of stay that La Belle Esplanade offers.
Will You Meet Celebrities in New Orleans?
I can’t guarantee you’ll meet bona fide celebrities at La Belle Esplanade during the dates you choose to visit us. I can, however, guarantee that you’ll meet a small-scale locally well known man-about-New Orleans, a gadabout and a bona fide flaneur who is recognized all over the city for both his eccentric sense of fashion and his ineffable bonhomie. I can guarantee that when you stay at our inn, this gentleman will be here to greet you, to meet you, and to share in your New Orleans adventures with impeccable spot-on advice and and an encyclopedic knowledge of all things New Orleans. Who is this guy I’m talking about?
It’s that joker pictured above. It’s me, our humble narrator. Sorry, but that’s the best I can guarantee. I can’t guarantee Brooks & Dunn, Snoop Dogg, Bill Gates, Heidi Klum, Serena Williams, or anyone else I don’t really know. That picture above was taken a few weeks after my recent motor scooter accident in which I broke my left cheekbone and two ribs. I look much better now, thanks for asking. I’m all healed up to 100% full innkeeper and goodwill ambassador vigor. I’ve shaved since then, too.
If you choose to stay at La Belle Esplanade you may not meet an internationally famous celebrity, but you’ll have snagged the chance to meet me. Don’t faint at the prospect. It’s less exciting in person than it is in your imagination. You’ll also have the chance to meet Frau Schmitt, too, who is the better half of this operation. We’ll all have a good time. I do guarantee that. Good memories are made at La Belle Esplanade. Good memories are made on our street, where celebrities stay in New Orleans. I’m one of those celebrities, so I’m not sure how much that counts. We’ll have a good time nonetheless. We look forward to meeting you, whoever you are.
À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade
…where every morning starts with a curated breakfast salon.
Thursday, May 11, 2017: It’s Zydeco Night at the Rock ‘n’ Bowl That’s what Thursday means. I think we’re the only innkeepers who send people to the Rock ‘n’ Bowl. None of our guess, celebrity or layperson is ever disappointed. Why don’t other innkeepers and hotel concierges to the Rock ‘n’ Bowl. I’m not here to speculate but I think it’s because it’s just easier to send people to the French Quarter for a homogenized experience squeezed out of a tube meant to satisfy tourists. People come from all over Louisiana to go to Zydeco Night at the Rock ‘n’ Bowl. Zydeco music is happy music. New Orleans is a happy city.
P.S. should you visit New Orleans between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day, you can walk up to City Park at the end of our street to see lit up sculptures like our featured image, taken last year. You never know what you’ll find in New Orleans. It really is a kaleidoscope of a city.
À votre santé!!!!