Visit longer. Worry less. New Orleans is “The City That Care Forgot.” Don’t overplan and don’t check your watch. Turn off your phone. When you live in a New Orleans state of mind, you won’t suffer from FOMO NOLA. In a New Orleans state of mind, you won’t miss anything. You’ll accrue all the benefits that being in New Orleans bestows on someone with an open eye, an open ear, and an open heart.
During breakfast just this morning, one of our guests mentioned that they suffer from FOMO. Did I know what that is? I didn’t. FOMO stands for Fear of Missing Out. I didn’t know the acronym but I’m familiar with the syndrome. As an innkeeper, I get to witness its symptoms every week. When people visit New Orleans, some of them, not all, express an acute anxiety of not being able to see and experience everything New Orleans has to offer. My job, as a professional innkeeper and New Orleans goodwill ambassador, is to assure these people that they’re NEVER gonna see and experience everything New Orleans has to offer and that’s okay. FOMO NOLA, Fear of Missing Out on New Orleans LouisianA, is a common condition that can’t be cured, unless you slip into a New Orleans state of mind. That’s what La Belle Esplanade is all about.
I may not be personally familiar with FOMO, but I know what Mopho is. It’s a restaurant about a mile and a half from our inn. It’s very popular with those of us who live in the neighborhood. It’s a picturesque stroll up there, through beautiful and engaging cityscapes. If you’ve got FOMO about missing Mopho, don’t worry. We can point you in the right direction.
Frau Schmitt, who is the better half of this operation, and myself, your humble narrator, have lived in New Orleans for seven years, now. We miss out on all sorts of things. New Orleans is a kaleidoscope of a city and we can’t be everywhere at once. We’ve been to Mopho, and we’ve been to plenty of other places in New Orleans, too.
“What’s the best jazz club on Frenchmen Street?”
A lot of people ask me when they check in: “What’s the best jazz club on Frenchmen Street?” They’ve got FOMO NOLA. They don’t want to miss the best jazz club.
Here’s what I say: “Every club on Frenchmen Street is a big empty room with a bar and a band. If you like the band, that’s the best place to be. Enjoy yourself. Don’t overthink it. Get into the New Orleans state of mind and live in the moment. Live where you are. Be a New Orleanian while you’re here.”
People think that New Orleanians go to Frenchmen Street to listen to music. We do go there, occasionally, usually when we have visitors from another state who have read about Frenchmen Street. “Here it is, folks. Let’s all marvel at it’s glory.”
More often, those of us who live in New Orleans full time go to other places to listen to music. Whatever you think, locals don’t regularly pack into The Spotted Cat. Wait—correction—locals do go to The Spotted Cat on Frenchmen Street every night. Those are the people who work there. I guess it goes without saying that the people who work at The Spotted Cat also listen to the music there. They earn good tips there, too, from what I’m told.
I do, sometimes, walk by The Spotted Cat and most of the other places on Frenchmen Street, the few times that I visit Frenchmen Street. It’s only about a mile walk from our inn. I don’t often visit Frenchmen Street during the day because there isn’t much going on except tourists bumping into each other wondering what all the hype is about. I don’t often visit Frenchmen Street after dark because I’m not interested in navigating a drunken crowd bumping into each other who think that what people do in New Orleans is we just get blind drunk and obnoxiously loud while we stumble on the sidewalk.
We call the sidewalk a banquette in New Orleans. If someone says sidewalk in New Orleans, then you know they’re not a New Orleanian. If they trip on the sidewalk, guess what? They aren’t a New Orleanian, either. New Orleanians know to watch their step everywhere they walk. You might step in some tourist’s puke. There aren’t a lot of New Orleanians on Frenchmen Street.
The New Orleanians who are on Frenchmen Street are working on the stage, behind the bar, or at the tables, and they’re all collecting tips from the people who don’t live in New Orleans. Thanks for coming, folks!
I’m not here to judge if you think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread or jambalaya is to stand nut-to-butt (as we used to say in the Navy) with a passel of people from Toronto, Cleveland, Des Moines, and all the other orthodontists in New Orleans for their convention to hear real live jazz music at a real New Orleans jazz club (TM). Have a good time.
Compared to a jazz club in Toronto, Cleveland or Des Moines, or even in Hinton, WV, this will probably be an awesome experience for you. I’m not here to judge. Just don’t tell me the next day day that you’re afraid you missed something. There is no FOMO NOLA when you stay in the tourist bubble; you’ve bellied up to the whole shrimp etouffé buffet. You didn’t miss the tourist experience that’s in all the guidebooks. You may have missed a lot of other things (noticed I said may have missed—there’s no guarantee) but you certainly got the squeezed-out-of-a-tube, plopped-out-of-a-can, reheated-in-a-microwave-oven New Orleans experience that you read about before you got here. How’s your hangover after nursing a couple of those sweet, sweet hurricanes?
Be careful what you wish for. Be thankful for what you have.
When we make recommendations to our guests, we don’t rely on Yelp. Hey! Guess what? The Spotted Cat on Frenchmen Street has gotten so crowded that they opened a second location on St. Claude Avenue. You can double your fun authentic New Orleans experience! Wanna know the last time I checked Yelp for a restaurant recommendation in New Orleans? It was before I moved here. Now, I know better.
I know you don’t live here, but Frau Schmitt, who is the better half of this operation, and I have dined at over 400 of the over 800 restaurants that make New Orleans their home bases Make your Yelp-based reservations for restaurants that your neighbors have visited before you get here, but keep an open mind and an open heart. When you get here, your humble innkeepers (and we really are humble) will be able to steer you in better directions where you won’t need reservations. Why? Because we like to share where New Orleanians go.
There is a New Orleans of the mind that is constructed and sold before you get here. That’s where the tourists go. There is a New Orleans of the heart that evolves without a conscious plan into something beautiful, like a flower unfolding. That’s where New Orleanians live. Be a New Orleanian while you’re here.
Guess what? None of our neighbors in a five-mile radius have eaten even a french fry or listened to more than a quarter of a set at the Hard Rock Café, BB King’s Blues Club, or most of the other must-see venues you’ve read about. We all have other things to do. If you dig that scene, we’re not here to judge. New Orleans is a real, working city. It isn’t Disneyworld. New Orleans can offer up a prepackaged experience for those who want it but most of the people who deliberately choose to stay at La Belle Esplanade are looking for better memories than they can find in the French Quarter.
You choose to stay at La Belle Esplanade because it’s different from a chain hotel in the French Quarter. Wanna know what it’s like to live in New Orleans? You have two guides at the ready when you check in. We don’t pretend to be hotel concierges. We prefer to think we offer more personalized recommendations based on what we learn about you in conversation. We’re not snobs. We’ve been to the Hard Rock Café and BB King’s Blues Club, and most of the other places you may be tempted to try. We just have other options to recommend if you are interested in the New Orleans state of mind. In a New Orleans state of mind, even angels dream of staying at La Belle Esplanade.
I will go on record to say that the Frenchmen Street Spotted Cat does tend to have top-notch musicians. I haven’t been to the new St. Claude Avenue branch and, frankly, I’m in no rush. I just don’t like to pack nut-to-butt (as we used to say in the Navy) with a crowd of strangers from out of town. I live in New Orleans. I like to go where New Orleanians go. I don’t suffer from FOMO NOLA. I have no fear of missing anything that happens in this kaleidoscope of a city. I know I can’t be everywhere at once. I pick what I want to savor. I go where New Orleanians go. Wanna know where those places are? You can ask me over breakfast after you make a reservation to stay at La Belle Esplanade. When you stay at a hotel in the French Quarter, well, Yelp is gonna be yer best friend. Bon appetite! Enjoy that jazz scene, too, while you’re at it! Laissez les bon temps rouler.
Guess what? You will miss things in New Orleans while you are here. Nobody ever says their visit to our fair city is too long. It is always too short. The longer you stay in New Orleans, the more you realize how much you’re missing. I live here.
If you stay in the French Quarter, you’ll think that’s all New Orleans is. The French Quarter has a gravitational pull that keeps you there buying tee shirts, sugary alcoholic drinks, and tacky-tacky souvenirs. That’s not what New Orleans is about. Those of us who live in this amazing city do not drink Hand Grenades. Frau Schmitt, who is the better half of this operation, and I do not wear matching tee shirts that say “Drunk 1” and “Drunk 2,” or “Drunk Lives Matter.”
Spend all your visit to New Orleans on Frenchmen Street or in the French Quarter and you will be missing out on the real New Orleans. Your feelings of FOMO NOLA will be justified. There is more to New Orleans than what you read about in the guidebooks and what you read about on your favorite travel websites. New Orleans is more and better. New Orleans is so much better than what you read about it.
I read the same stuff. I hate reading the top ten lists, the must-do lists, the best-of lists. They all sound so dull compared to the New Orleans I know. I live in New Orleans. For however long you choose to visit New Orleans, you can live here, too. We live on a beautiful street. Good memories are made on Esplanade Avenue. Give it a chance. Get out of the tourist bubble. New Orleans will make you fall in love. Ours is a seductive city that will make you want to move here permanently.
Be careful what you wish for. Spend enough time in New Orleans and you’ll be spoiled for living anywhere else. New Orleans is magically real. It is much, much more than what you’ve been programmed to think about it. New Orleans is better. New Orleans is better than you imagine.
If you wanna get your tourist vibe on and eat tourist chum and drink sweet, sweet sugary drinks that no one in New Orleans ever drinks; if you want to sup at the trough of the lowest common denominator; if you dig dueling pianos playing set pieces instead of practiced musicians improvising old dixieland melodies in harmony, from memory; if you want to observe rather than live; if you want to fill up your Facebook page with snapshot memories instead of filling your head and your heart with good memories that will last a lifetime; if you just want to forget your life in a stupor instead of escaping your cares in a different culture, a different, and, better, way of life—stay in a hotel. Yuk it up at the Marriott, the Hilton, The Ace, the Sheraton…..wherever. Book your stay on the same website where you book your plane ticket. Airlines are known for their great service. Expect as much from your hotel when you make a reservation with an online travel agent.
The only way you can make a reservation at La Belle Esplanade, a boutique New Orleans experience inn on Esplanade Avenue, the most interesting place to stay in America’s most interesting city, is through this website. We cut out the middleman. You have two friends in New Orleans. Let’s deal directly, virtual face-to-face before you show up, real face-to-face, ambassador-to-guest, while you are here. Welcome to the New Orleans state of mind. Our light blue “Check Availability” button is located to your right on the top of this screen if you’re using a laptop or mainframe computer screen. We encourage reading our website on a laptop. It’s more panoramic that way. Like New Orleans, itself, we feel constrained when viewed on a tiny screen. Experience New Orleans in the round when you visit our vibrant neighborhood.
We cater to visitors to our fair city who are less afflicted with FOMO, Fear of Missing Out. Visitors who choose La Belle Esplanade are not missing out. They are venturing forward. Here’s a representative picture of our usual guests:
When you live in New Orleans, you can’t be afraid of missing out. When you live in New Orleans you get as much as you give. Love New Orleans and it will love you right back with quadruple intensity. New Orleans is a passionate lover. Get off the usual tourist radar and take the trajectory less traveled. You’ll feel like you have wings when you sit down to supper next to a real New Orleanian for a real New Orleans meal. Sure, you may feel more comfortable sitting next to somebody from Cleveland who’s here for the weekend and you’re both eating a fried oyster plate. “You got the fried oysters, too?!?” “Yeah, and Bourbon Street is crazy!!” Or, you can get out off the tourist radar grid and inhabit the real New Orleans. It’s much nicer where we live. Sure, Bourbon street is crazy when you compare it to your Main Street. Do 10 million drunken tourists visit your town every year? Bon appetite.
Bourbon Street is Crazy!!
If you don’t live in New Orleans, Bourbon Street is crazy. If you do live in New Orleans, really live here for even a weekend, Bourbon Street is boring. Nobody who lives on Bourbon Street is stumbling down the street pass-out drunk getting their picture taken with a busker or a gutter punk. Who’s doing that? People from Tulsa, people from Des Moines, people from Saskatoon, people from Peoria, people from Houston, people from Hartford, from Ann Arbor, from Portlandia, from Yuma, from Fort Wayne, from Raleigh-Durham, from Boise, from Yonkers, from Knoxville, from Toronto, from Atlanta —they all think Bourbon Street is tops. They can drink alcohol on the street from a plastic cup! They think Frenchmen Street is tops, too. They can drink on the street! Here’s what New Orleanians think: “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah. <yawn>.”
You can drink on the street anywhere in New Orleans. The rest of New Orleans isn’t crazy. If you’ve got a twinge of FOMO NOLA because you spend all your time where all the tourists are, well, you deserve it. You are missing out on what New Orleans has to offer.
Regular readers of this blog know I’m a big fan of the Chimes Bed and Breakfast on Constantinople Street. The Chimes is no La Belle Esplanade but if you have to settle for second best, that’s better than third or fourth or fiftieth best. La Belle Esplanade only has five suites at any given time and we tend to fill up early. If we’re full, we recommend an equivalent, though not as quirky and, certainly, not as good (sorry, Jill, but this is my website) experience at The Chimes.
A stay at The Chimes is Zip-a-dee-doo-dah without the yawn! My, oh my, what a wonderful day!
FOMA NOLA Conquered.
Your first choice of place to stay, if you are adventurous and looking for the best place to stay outside the tourist bubble is right here on this website: La Belle Esplanade. If our boutique experience inn is full, as it tends to be at short notice, your second best choice is The Chimes. Be a New Orleanian when you’re in New Orleans. We live in a magical city and you’ll never see or experience everything that is going on here at any given moment. New Orleans culture is densely textured and richly woven. Even when you think nothing is going on, something is going on.
Get outta the tourist bubble. La Belle Esplanade is holds the answers to all your New Orleans questions.
À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade
….where every morning starts with a curated breakfast salon of local delicacies and invigorating conversation.
Thursday, May 25, 2017: If you want to know what you missed today, I can only tell you it was a lot and the day’s not over yet. Come see for yourself. You have at least two friends in New Orleans.