New Orleans Top Hat District

I’ll be the first to admit that you don’t have to go all high hat when you stay in New Orleans.  Some people are the beer belly hanging out from under their tee shirt crowd, or jeans around their mid-thigh crowd, or the  backwards baseball cap gents, or those who like to wear their pajamas and slippers out in public.  Hey, I’m not here to judge your wardrobe.  Be yourself when you visit New Orleans.  Be yourself when you choose to stay at La Belle Esplanade.  The only thing we really do ask is that you appear in public wearing clothes.  Despite rumors to the contrary, ours is not a clothing-optional hotel.

I’ve been known to wear a top hat, and I’ve been known to wear a beret.  At breakfast, I tend to dress up.  After all, we have honored guests in our boutique hotel this morning, you, why wouldn’t I dress to impress.  I don’t expect you to.  You’re on vacation.  No matter how it seems, no matter how easy Frau Schmitt and I may make it look, we are professional innkeepers.  We aren’t on vacation.  We’re just happy to share our part of New Orleans with you.


Only one Esplanade Avenue, New Orleans, LA
Your humble narrator, innkeeper, goodwill ambassador, and man-about-New Orleans


I’ve also been known to sport a beret, and not because I’m French, which I’m not.

Esplanade Avenue is a beautiful street.  It’s the Creole millionaire’s row.  More locally, we call it the Creole St. Charles Avenue.  St. Charles Avenue is on the American side of Canal Street in New Orleans.  On this side, the Creole side, the houses are just as grand but the atmosphere is a bit more relaxed, a bit more come as you are.

The grand homes along Esplanade Avenue are no longer home to millionaires.  Just look at your humble narrator for proof of that.  The homes remain grand, however, and an air of gracefulness and decorum infuses the avenue.  It really is a beautiful street and many of the guests who stay with us tell us that Esplanade is their favorite street in New Orleans.  It’s my favorite street, too.

Esplanade Avenue is off the usual tourist grid.  It separates the French Quarter from Frenchmen Street, so just about everyone who visits New Orleans has crossed Esplanade Avenue, but we don’t live on that part.  We’re about a mile away from Frenchmen Street, a world that is a part of and apart from that part of New Orleans.  We don’t get many tourists on our stretch of Esplanade Avenue, even though our stretch is home to La Belle Esplanade and three other B&Bs that I can see from our front porch.  It really is beautiful and welcoming here.

People just go about their lives on Esplanade Avenue.  Our neighborhood coffee shop is one block from our address, as is our neighborhood fruit monger.  Our neighborhood bar is two blocks away.  A new restaurant has opened two blocks from La Belle.  We haven’t yet been but they chose their new location to be in the thick of the neighborhood.  They abandoned their old location to be in a real neighborhood.  They don’t have a real website.  A Facebook page is good enough for them.

Our neighborhood pharmacy isn’t a chain and it is a five minute stroll away.  Frau Schmitt gets her hair cut around the corner at Sweet Olive Salon.  All of life’s amenities are within easy reach when you live on Esplanade Avenue.

When you visit New Orleans, we think you should do it like you live here.  You’ll get more out of your stay that way.

General George Patton loved walking up and down Esplanade Avenue.

I don’t know this first hand, I wasn’t alive at the time, but my neighbors have told me that Gen. Patton walked up and down, up and down, up and down Esplanade Avenue when he was in town.  He couldn’t get enough of it.  I’m not going to lie to you: he never stayed at La Belle Esplanade.  He did eat at Antoine’s Restaurant, though.  They have photographic and autographed proof:


High Hat New Orleans
Photo and letter from Gen. Patton at Antoine’s Restaurant


Wanna know who else ate at Antoine’s?  Groucho Marx.  When he was there he left his beret in the men’s room so the staff mailed it back to him in New York.  Groucho wouldn’t keep it so he mailed it back to New Orleans where it is preserved in a hallway under glass in the oldest family owned restaurant in the United States.


High hat New Orleans
Groucho Marx’s beret at Antoine’s Restaurant, New Orleans

I sometimes wear a beret.  Groucho Marx sometimes wore a beret.  Everything I learned about innkeeping, I learned from Groucho Marx.


À votre santé,

La Belle Esplanade

ours is unlike ANY other New Orleans hotel.  Unlike any hotel, period.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017:   You don’t have to go all high hat in New Orleans but if you want to spend a few nights to remember in this remarkable and wonderful city we call home, you can do a lot worse than staying at La Belle Esplanade on Esplanade Avenue.  We haven’t been ranked #1 on Trip Advisor for three and half years without reason.   No one ever says their visit is too long.  It is only too short.  Stay for as long as you like on Esplanade Avenue.  You won’t regret it.

Postscript:  Our irregularly published newsletter will be coming out soon.  If you want to get the inside news of what’s going on in our part of New Orleans, more than what you can read on our blog, sign up in the box at the bottom of this page.  Like our blog, our newsletter is “sometimes informative and usually entertaining.”

Post-postscript: If you’d like to read more about what I have to say about our street, Esplanade Avenue, here’s a link to an article I wrote just after I wrote this one you’ve just finieshed.  A humble narrator’s work is never done.  It’s on a very special website called Esplanade Dreams.   Read on and enjoy.  We look forward to sharing this part of New Orleans with you soon.