As longtime readers know, I don’t like to call La Belle Esplanade a bed and breakfast. The term B&B conjures up images of rooms overstuffed with antiques and run by amateurs for supplemental income. We prefer to call La Belle a boutique experience inn. Staying with us is more like staying in a boutique hotel than it’s like staying in somebody’s house.
When I’m on vacation, I don’t want to stay in a stranger’s house. A stranger’s hotel? Sure. Every hotel is owned by a stranger. It’s not like I was ever chummy with Paris Hilton.
I’m not particularly interested in staying in a clothing-optional New Orleans hotel, but some people are. Should La Belle Esplanade go clothing-optional? Read on…
The fountain in our back garden is naked from the waist up.
Our fountain depicts Leda and the Swan, a classical Greek (and adopted Roman) myth. If you don’t know it, it’s not exactly a love story, but it’s a pretty famous tale. There have been other depictions of the story that leave less to the imagination but I prefer our version. What follows is a video I shot this past January that features our fountain. Was there really ice in our garden just four months ago? The weather has been so beautiful recently, for three and a half months, really, that I forget that it can get cold in New Orleans in winter, if only for two or three nights.
There are some small inns in New Orleans that are clothing-optional at breakfast. Your expectations may vary about what that will unfold (ha!) when you stay at a small boutique inn like ours. La Belle Esplanade is not clothing-optional. It’s a demographic we choose not to pursue.
Here’s a code-word for you. If a small inn bills itself as “European style” that means clothing-optional. I’ve stayed at a lot of places in Europe and none of them featured nude breakfasts. Your experience may vary by country. I wasn’t in any of those naked countries, if they even really exist in Europe.
I always remember a little poem that Joe Gould used to recite at bohemian Greenwich Village (NYC) parties in the 1920s and 1930s:
My Religion. By Joe Gould.
“In the winter, I’m a Buddhist.
In the summer, I’m a nudist.”
I’m no nudist, or, naturist as some people of that persuasion like to say. I’m not a Buddhist, either, though some people have mistaken me for one over the years. Let’s just say I’m mindful and introspective, though you wouldn’t necessarily guess that since I just blurt out whatever’s uppermost in my head—like these blogs!
I’m not gonna tell you my particular faith in the things above and beyond the here and now beyond saying that I live on the Downtown side of Canal Street in New Orleans. You can connect the dots if you know what that clue means. If you are extra-curious, you can ask me about the specifics over breakfast. I’m no nudist but I’m not shy. Neither was Joe Gould. What was Joe Gould’s secret?
Joe Gould, despite what many believed, wasn’t a real writer. Does he remind you of any humble narrator you may be reading right now AT THIS VERY MINUTE? La Belle Esplanade isn’t a clothing-optional hotel, either. It is very European. One half of our professional innkeeper owners/staff is German. Frau Schmitt is the better half of this operation, as I’ll always tell you.
Then there is me, your atypical American eccentric, wearing clothes, the way I usually do when I’m not in the shower. Maybe we have something in common. Maybe you like to wear clothes in public, too. When you choose to stay at La Belle Esplanade you’ll connect with the part of New Orleans that is off the usual tourist grid. I can’t remember the last time I saw someone walk down our street naked. Frankly, it’s never happened, to tell you the truth. I’m sorry to shatter that myth for you.
I like clothes. If you don’t like wearing clothes, our boutique New Orleans experience inn may not be for you—especially in January. Some people call me a dandy:
When you stay at La Belle Esplanade we will expect you to wear clothes when you come down for breakfast. We hope this isn’t an inconvenience. We are a clothing-optional hotel, though. You can sleep in your birthday suit in your suite if that’s how you’re most comfortable. You can stand in front of the balcony window in your altogether if you want to with the curtains wide open. Nobody’s gonna look up to see you. Have all the naked fun you want in the suite you reserve. Keep the noise down, though, wouldja?
Frau Schmitt (who is the better half of this operation) and I know a lot about New Orleans. We know a lot of secrets. If you’ve read something about New Orleans, or your friends who have been to New Orleans before have a hot tip for you, we know those things, too. Trust me. We know whatever you’ve learned about New Orleans while you were 1000 miles away. We’re your guides and your goodwill ambassadors on the ground. We are embedded and part of the landscape. You can be embedded in the New Orleans state of mind, too. Ask us anything.
We look forward to meeting you with everybody’s clothes on.
À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade
…where every morning starts with a curated breakfast salon of good conversation about interesting topics.
Tuesday, May 9, 2017: It’s not cold out in early May in New Orleans. It’s not hot either. It’s just right. Why aren’t you here? You can read about something, but that’s no substitute for doing it. New Orleans is calling you. La Belle Esplanade is the most interesting place to stay in America’s most interesting city. That city is New Orleans. We live on a beautiful street.