Travel

Louisiana

Establishment neighborhood
Krewe du Optic
809 Royal St., French Quarter
Krewe founder Stirling Barrett knows how to create an experience. Krewe is fundamentally a sunglasses store, but it’s also a hidden spot to have a coffee and just hang out. Like the city behind the brand, these frames are unusual, sometimes quirky, and beautifully crafted. Set aside time to visit Barrett’s plant-filled, showroom-style store and you won’t be able to leave without indulging in a pair of these special frames. Slow burners, indecisive shoppers, and general passersby can take a seat in the sunny, brick-walled alley outside for a coffee break.
Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden
1 Collins Diboll Cir., City Park
One of our favorite New Orleans experiences has nothing to do with eating or drinking. This enchanting five-acre garden is perfect for a wander around ponds and magnolia and live oak trees. There are also sixty-four sculptures by artists like Henry Moore and Kenneth Snelson. Originally intended as an offshoot of the New Orleans Museum of Art, the garden is an attraction all on its own. Come in the early morning or hazy late afternoon to see these wonders come alive when the light is most reflective.
The Country Club
634 Louisa St., Bywater
This extravagant haven is New Orleans’s best-kept secret. It’s a mansion dating from the late 1800s, complete with a heated saltwater pool, sauna, and a restaurant serving up Creole fare that tastes just as good poolside as it does in the frescoed dining room. A mere fifteen bucks gets you access to this Bywater oasis. During the city’s muggy, humid months, escaping to the Country Club for fries and cold rosé by the water is akin to finding water in the desert. Trust us.
Hotel Peter and Paul
2317 Burgundy St., Marigny
It’s taken four years of meticulous restoration of an 1860s church, schoolhouse, rectory, and convent, but this highly anticipated hotel in the Marigny is finally open. Between them, the four buildings contain seventy-one guest rooms, a bookstore, a café, and a bar, and it’s about as far as you can get from a chain-hotel experience. Each room is individually decorated by New York City–based design firm ASH NYC (it specializes in historic updates) with antique furniture and lighting, hand-painted tiles in the bathroom (a few have clawfoot tubs), and a canopy bed—a cozy, throwback touch that’s not found much these days. The café is another reason to book. Run by Church Alley Coffee Bar, it’s the best place in the neighborhood for your morning cortado.
Spa Isbell
1245 Magazine St., Faubourg Lafayette
Surrounded by the vintage stores and oyster bars of Magazine Street, Elisabeth Isbell’s cozy spa and salon is great for glossy manicures and pedicures, as well as blowouts—but the facials are especially fantastic. We love the Platinum Pumpkin Peel, which combines fruit enzymes with organic pumpkin to refresh dull skin, and the super soothing Revitalizing Eye Treatment, which can be added on to any facial, and includes an undereye mask and a pressure-point massage.
Ace Hotel New Orleans
600 Carondelet St., Warehouse District
While the décor here definitely feels like an Ace, you’ll find none of the urban grunge of the New York location or the woods-y, hipster feel of the Portland and Seattle spots. The building itself is a 1928 art deco masterpiece in the Warehouse District, occupied by a Scandinavian furniture company for most of its existence, and now topped with a pool that’s open year round in the balmy, humid Southern weather here. The moody-but-elegant interiors are decorated (by no less than goop favorites Roman & Williams) in dark gem tones, with perfectly worn leather banquettes and thoughtful art deco accents. As this is an Ace, the restaurant is shaping up to be pretty great as well. Memphis food wizards Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman, childhood best friends whose home-style Italian food is infused with a Southern kick, made it their first venture outside of Tennessee.