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Recent New Orleans discoveries, chic Parisian experience curators, packing tips from our friend who does carry-on for even 4-week trips, and finally a cool Napa-area hotel that doesn’t break the bank
JUST BACK FROM…New Orleans
I’ve visited New Orleans a dozen times that I can remember, a few blurred times that I cannot, and at least one or two times to which I won’t admit. Like any great love, New Orleans is complicated. It’s a white table-clothed dinner of Creole-inflected haute cuisine precipitously followed by late night tachos (tater-tot nachos, IYDK) served on wax papered-hotel pans, and washed down with icy-cold Abita beers. It’s a stumble down a street you shouldn’t be on, but there’s live music just around the corner and suddenly you’re dancing, even though you never do. It’s that omnipresent opportunity for spontaneous adventure paired with an ethos of inclusivity—despite (or perhaps because of) a truly eclectic local culture—that makes New Orleans my true love. And it’s why I ventured back to the city last month to see how it would challenge me once again. Here’s a list of some newish spots as well as some old favorites.
Over the last few years, New Orleans has welcomed a handful of boutique hotels, transforming the Big Easy from a rather sleepy lodging scene and trip-planning afterthought to a key reason to visit. I checked into three relatively new hotels on this trip, each a delight in its own way. Maison de la Luz, a design-driven project from the Ace Hotels team, is purposefully private, with a discreet entrance on Carondelet Street accessible only to hotel guests, and the speakeasy Bar Marilou, hidden behind some bookcases in the jewel box of a lounge. The entrance and common areas are decorated with design objects and art at every turn, with a preponderance of snakes. The 67 suites are outfitted with an eclectic mix of furnishings and oversized marble bathrooms. Ideally located between the Warehouse District and the CBD (Central Business District) and only a short walk to the heart of the French Quarter, the property truly epitomizes the inimitable spirit of New Orleans. For a more encompassing stay, check out the Hotel St. Vincent, a spirited refurb of a massive 19th-century orphanage on Magazine Street. There’s a pool, two bars, two restaurants, porches for days, a palm-lined courtyard, Vietnamese coffee shop (NOLA has a large Vietnamese expat population) and a cool lobby boutique. It’s also in the most desirable part of the Lower Garden District, with dozens of shops, galleries, bars and restaurants a short stroll away. The 75 rooms are snug, but many have porch access, as well as touches like red-striped linen bathrobes, custom-embroidered bed sheets and vintage-inspired bedside telephones. About a mile and half up St. Charles Avenue, The Chloe might be my new favorite place to call home here. This 14-room 1890s modern-Victorian mansion is awash in gem-toned pinks and greens splashed across fringed ottomans and velvet sofas, anchored by gold and sky-blue tiles throughout the cozy common areas. Each bedroom is unique, but all have record players with a curated vinyl collection from nearby Peaches Records Stores, Bellino Italian bed linens and locally sourced snacks/drinks in the minibars. It’s an all-day moveable feast through the property with meals and cocktails available at the outdoor front patio, lobby bar, dining room, lounge areas and through the back porch to the tucked away pool. For a more traditional hotel stay, The Four Seasons New Orleans, opened in late 2021, has all the trappings of the FS brand—celebrity chef helmed restaurant, soaring public spaces and a state-of-the-art spa—in a central location near the riverbank and just a short walk to the Quarter, CBD, and the Warehouse District.
I never sleep late in New Orleans—morning meals are just too good. For a twist on classic Creole, try local celebrated chef Dooky Chase’s new Chapter IV restaurant for the BBQ shrimp omelet or the oyster Benedict. The daily lineup of donuts at District Donuts are a good alternative to a beignet from Café Du Monde, but both will do for a sugary morning fix. I recommend grabbing one on the way to Molly’s Rise and Shine, where you’ll line up for creative versions of breakfast standbys like carrot marmalade yogurt parfait, or a modern take on the McMuffin with house-made sage pork patties. And check out Alon Shaya’s Saba for a full-on Israeli brunch spread and my favorite Bloody Mary in town.
If I could choose only one place to have lunch—as much as I love throwing back oysters at the bar at Peche, tucking into a banh mi at Lilly’s Café, or a sharing a charcuterie plate from St. James Cheese Company—it would be Turkey and the Wolf, Mason Hereford’s much-loved, elevated sandwich shop. Everything on the menu is a slam dunk, although I especially love the collard green melt, headcheese tacos, and cabbage salad. I usually beeline there directly from the airport. A couple other memorable lunches on this trip included the royal red shrimp roll and pickle plate at The Chloe and a killer shrimp po’ boy at Guy’s PoBoys on Magazine Street.
On my first night, I had a stunning meal at Dakar, an inventive Senegalese restaurant from James Beard-nominated chef, Serigne Mbaye. The always-changing tasting menu is seafood focused and pairs West African cuisine with creole nods; it was the most dynamic and delicious meal I’ve had in years. For a local take on seafood, visit GW Fins, a stalwart for over two decades. The menu changes based on the day’s catch and the “Salty Malty Ice Cream Pie” is a favorite for dessert. For a French fix, I visited Mamou, a modern brasserie in the Quarter, named in honor of chef Tom Branigahan’s grandmother. Expect a homey art-nouveau interior, notable wine list and dreamy versions of classics, like red-bean cassoulet and Poisson à la Florentine. On my last night, I lucked into a reservation at the always busy Luvi, a brightly colored boîte on Tchoupitoulas Street with an intoxicating mix of Shanghai and Japanese cuisines, including the standout crawfish wontons with sweet corn and chili oil. New restaurant to know: Hungry Eyes, from the Turkey and the Wolf team, whose first official service was April 10. As the name implies, think ‘80s inspired decor/soundtrack, with an eclectic menu and lots of martinis.
You can’t visit the Crescent City without trying a few creative cocktails; it may be the best bar crawl city in the world. On this visit, I snuck through the bookshelf at the speakeasy-chic, Bar Marilou, hidden inside Maison de la Luz. The drinks here are creatively named and lovingly prepared, like the “Tokyo Record” with Japanese whisky, Amontillado sherry, elderflower, lemon, and vanilla. Jewel of the South is another bastion of noteworthy craft cocktails, and I particularly liked “Tuxedo Tails” with J. Rieger & Co. Dry Gin, Manzanilla sherry, Luxardo, and orange bitters. For a more classic cocktail, the martini at the Chandelier Bar at the Four Seasons is perfectly potent, and properly served in a chilled crystal coupe glass on a silver tray with a sidecar of ice, topped with pickled pearl onions, olives, and a twist. Finally, be sure to stop at Emeril’s for the banana cream pie. The original flagship that launched Emeril Lagasse’s empire took on a more touristy persona in recent years, but last May E.J. Lagasse, Emeril’s 20-year-old wunderkind son, took over as chef and reinvigorated the restaurant, and the pie. It’s a welcome return to relevance for this city icon. (Tip: if you don’t want a full meal, hit the Salon room and grab a nightcap with your slice of pie.)
With The Chloe situated Uptown, Hotel Saint Vincent in the Lower Garden District and Maison de la Luz in the Warehouse District, I spent most of my time between these sections of town and barely set foot in the French Quarter, except for a drink or bite.
Uptown is a section of New Orleans notable for its gardens, stately neighborhoods, local shops and restaurant scene. The Garden District neighborhood is a U.S. National Historic Landmark full of dignified Greek Revival mansions with ornate ironwork and lined by rows of magnolia and live oak trees. Meandering around this iconic part of Uptown is a great way to spend a morning or late afternoon (when it’s not too hot!), and to add to the charm, you can also hop a ride on the St. Charles Streetcar—I bought a one-day Jazzy Pass for $3, the best deal in town. Walking a bit further into Uptown, you’ll happen upon the boutique-filled Touro neighborhood—including Hola Guava’s jewelry and bags, Aux Belles Choses for its collection of French and English antiques and Jillian Mac Fine Art for their rotating collection of local and international artists. For mid-afternoon revival, try a cold foam, cold brew at CR Coffee.
The Lower Garden District—not to be confused with the Garden District—is a more artsy, eclectic part of town, with dozens of good spots for eating, drinking, and shopping along Magazine Street. Be sure to have a look around Monomin for chic women’s clothing and accessories and Monomini across the street, their fashionable kids’ boutique. For a proper men’s shave and cut, Aidan Gill and the Bearded Lady Barber both hit the mark and they’re stylish shops to boot, with great men’s skincare products. Another favorite along Magazine Street, especially when I’m feeling peckish, is Stein’s Market and Deli. Stein’s buzzes at lunch with a work crowd lined up for Italian and Jewish inspired sandwich specials—worth the wait.
The Warehouse District, aka the Arts District, flows with galleries, museums, curated shops and some of the top tables in town. Start the day with a visit to the Ogden Museum, dedicated to Southern art, with a truly impressive collection and surprisingly quiet, under-the-radar galleries. From there it’s easy to wander around a few galleries; a couple favorites are the contemporary art-focused Jonathan Ferrara Gallery and the Martine Chaisson Gallery, both of which exhibit a stellar roster of upcoming and established artists in beautifully designed spaces. Local shops of note include Ironshop Provisions, with a covetable collection of selvedge denim, waxed canvas jackets and other menswear staples, and DNO (Defend New Orleans) for community minded/design-forward clothing and accessories. And for a caffeinated pit-stop, drop by Mammoth Espresso on Baronne Street for their mind-blowing “Sweet Little Thing,” made with a double shot of espresso, vanilla, half and half and Bittermen’s Burlesque bitters, shaken and served on the rocks.
At night, live music options are truly endless. For a more intimate setting than storied Preservation Hall and for a dose of jazz, funk and blues, check out d.b.a. and Blue Nile, on the always energetic Frenchmen Street, or head way uptown to the Maple Leaf Bar and the legendary late-night joint, Tipitina’s (Tip’s to locals). I hit up all four, and strongly suggest doing the same!
Eric J. Goldberg is a traveler and dabbler in all things related to the business of hospitality. Eric has been the CEO of an international hotel services company, founder of a boutique branding agency and senior executive with a travel PR firm. He’s now a consultant and investor and trying to finally put his English Literature degree to work as a writer.
GUEST BOOK…MacArthur Place, Sonoma, CA
By Zach Weiss
Best for… An affordable base for exploring both Sonoma and Napa
The look and feel… It’s modern without feeling cold, with lots of quiet corners that feel sheltered away from the bustle, thanks to ample greenery.
The rooms… The undisputed highlight of my room was its private backyard, which had a large bathtub in a partially enclosed shed adorned with an outdoor shower and a small seating area.
The wellness… The pool and spa are currently under construction, but I look forward to returning when they’re finished!
The food… I ordered room service and enjoyed the new episode of Succession on the large TV with a fire lit. Though it’s not surprising to hear, the burger was the star of the order, which also included a curry squash soup.
Extra tip goes to… The employees across every touch point — valet, check-in, restaurant and housekeeping — were accommodating without any overbearing quality that can make you feel like you’re being babysat.
Be sure to… Enjoy the communal alcove seating area, complete with fire pits.
Parting words… Although brief, I was pleasantly surprised by my stay. After spending the previous few nights in the area at properties with a bit more buzz, MacArthur Place proved to deliver under the radar. In addition to its convenient location, I’d consider it a great option, thanks to its price point that verges on…reasonable! This could be especially heaven-sent for those who may have been lured to the region for a wedding weekend, where one’s room should provide a place of serenity.
Date of stay… April 2023
HOW I PACK
Emilie Hawtin is the founder of Clementina, a tailoring and editorial project, collaborating with tailors, shirtmakers, and shoemakers. She’s on the road a lot, never checks luggage, and doesn’t use a rolling bag. “I pack for ten days or a month in Europe without checking a bag. Yes, it’s possible! Wearing a personal uniform helps.”
What’s your go-to luggage for this kind of trip, and why?
Two bags, carry-on only! The main bag is a Filson weekender in navy canvas twill. It’s lightweight, fits everything and looks elegant. I hang suits in a garment bag and pack them in. The second bag is a large L.L. Bean Boat & Tote in tonal ivory for computer and the extras. I pack a smaller twill tote from Chiarastella Cattana inside that one and use it every day.
I used to check bags, but carrying on keeps my packing concise and my arrival fast. I’ll do anything to avoid lost luggage, extra time, or the sound of wheels on Italian cobblestone streets.
How do you approach the basics?
Uniform dressing has transformed my life and packing strategies. I usually wear a tailored linen suit I design for women, The Clementina, with a men’s dress shirt or polo, a cravat and velvet slippers or loafers. I make the same suit in a few colors to mix and match, and rotate in white jeans. These all work together and for any setting, city, weather, event or meeting that I’m in. I’ll add a trench if it’s rainy or twill safari jacket if I’m going to a coastal or woodsy place. The accessories mix things up. This way I don’t have to think about much–packing for a trip or getting dressed when I’m there. It’s so freeing.
-Clementina suit: 2 jackets, 3 trousers
-6 shirts: men’s dress shirts (doubles as beach attire), polo shirt, tuxedo shirt, Speciale shirt
-2 white jeans (I have several pairs of one style)
-1 cashmere cable-knit sweater
-1 safari jacket
-5 silk pocket squares/scarves
-3 Fruilane slippers, pair of Belgian loafers, Clementina Opera Pumps or boat xhoes
-Yoga leotard (!) and mat
*I wash things in the sink or use a local dry cleaner if needed. Soap, water and sea salt works well for white linen/white jeans.
Are you a roller or a folder?
Used to be a roller, now I'm a folder. I find clothes wrinkle less with folding.
Any other packing tricks or hacks?
A made-to-measure suit is the most versatile thing I own, day to night. Added bonus: airline staff, and most staff, are nicer if I'm wearing a sport coat.
What’s your shoe strategy?
Velvet slippers are lightweight and work everywhere—beach, streets, or black tie–MVP travel shoes and meant to be worn out.
How do you think about accessories?
Accessories are the most important thing to pack. They change up any outfit instantly and allow you to pack very few clothes for a long period of time.
What’s always in your Dopp kit/toiletry bag?
Almond soap-in-a-box (I like having my own soap), sea salt, ayurvedic toothpaste, loads of vitamins. My favorite sunscreen is the Santa Maria Novella Crema Solare SPF 20, which is increasingly hard to find so I ask every SMN boutique for their remaining stock. Otherwise, La Roche Posay travel SPF, or, occasionally Supergoop. Any natural sunscreen at a European pharmacy, even at the airport, is usually great.
On a plane, what essentials does your carry-on bag always contain?
Almonds, reading materials, laptop, headphones, cashmere sweater, face roller (!), toothpaste/brush
What’s your pharmacy kit? How do you deal with sunscreen if you’re a carry-on only and it’s a beach vacation?
Travel sized sunscreen and pharmacies on arrival!
Any wisdom on traveling with electronics?
Mac computer adapters for every destination make a big difference. Converters never work well, so I buy chargers everywhere I am. I love portable wi-fi and iPhone battery packs!
Justina Socas & Clément Le Coz, creators of Le Coup de Foudre
Tell us about you and your company.
Le Coup de Foudre—a French expression to describe an unexpected moment when you get hit by Aphrodite’s arrow right in the heart—is an experience agency based in Paris. Clément Le Coz and I, Justina Socas, are definitely old-fashioned people when it comes to love encounters. We bumped into each other on a Saturday morning. Clément was working, looking for one-of-a-kind venues for an event. I was studying. He was standing in front of my mother’s house. Two weeks later, we were at the opera for our first date. Clément looked stunning in his black tuxedo and dark green wool cape. I wore a black velvet long dress and a gold cape.
We are not digital or metaverse avatar lovers. We need to feel magic when it comes to meeting people, pieces of art, fashion garments, pieces of furniture or outstanding venues.
Our daily quest in Paris is falling in love. So we both look for crushes, the one crush that makes your head spin. Clément’s last crush was a pair of Mathieu derby shoes from Solovière, a young brand created by Alexia Aubert. My latest crush are the tiebacks I bought for my home from Houlès Paris and sculptural jewelry from Goossens. I am still waiting for Clément to buy me a big pair—Loulou de la Falaise-style—of earrings.
We are specialized in what we love doing: communicating our fashion, design and art crushes to others. We are curators. We select what we feel best and build a tailor-made experience in order to create a memorable trip to Paris. Even when it comes to luxury houses, you can trust our creativity. There is always more to live with a local person.
Travel agencies, luxury hotels, high-end concierge offices and private clients seek our services to have access to both our know-how and our network. We do not push a button and make things happen. We combine venues, streets, stores, coffees, ateliers with cabinets de curiosités to show our clients a broader image of Paris. Don’t worry, you’ll see the Eiffel tower from many streets we walk on.
What’s the entry level to talk to you?
We offer half-day to three-day experiences in Paris. We have an easy price structure: 600 euros for a half day and 1000 euros for a full day. Again, our services are tailor-made, so we can suggest experiences for both men and women from 7 to 77. There is no membership fee and no recipe. Our only motivation is to get better for the next experience and build the most surprising itineraries possible.
What is the sweet spot of your expertise?
Paris. Always Paris. The old and the new Paris. The Paris strengthened by the marquis de Vauban, the Paris imagined by the baron Haussmann, the Paris lived by Pablo Picasso and of course the Paris honored by Coco Chanel. Paris has many souls. It is not only an aesthetic city. It is also the city of many artists, especially the ones from the beginning of the 20th century.
A favorite experience/trip/itinerary you’ve planned that best represents your philosophy…
If we need to choose, we would definitely pick the fashion experiences on the Left Bank. All the luxury brands now have their stores in the 6th or 7th district of Paris and share the Germanopratin streets with other local curiosities like Deyrolle, Duvelleroy, Bourgine, SuperStitch, Astier de Villatte, Mayaro and others. This is the neighborhood where we live and these streets have no secrets for us. We walk them every day.
A favorite hotel/lodge/house you love and go back to again and again…
The ability to host is an art. And Paris is the cornerstone of global hospitality. César Ritz and his collaborator, French chef and master of ceremony Auguste Escoffier, literally revolutionized the art of receiving. They created the industry of luxury hospitality and their imprint is everywhere in the city’s hotels.
Post Covid, hotels have cropped up all over Paris. However, we are still attached to the historical palaces. The Plaza Athénée, located on the most fashionable avenue of Paris, Avenue Montaigne, is definitely our favorite. Opened in 1913, this architectural gem is a pure expression of the most luxurious Haussmann Parisian style. When I first entered the hall, I was impacted by its marbles and Art Deco inspirations. The palace used to be the favorite of Jean Paul Belmondo, Marlene Dietriech, Alain Delon and Roger Moore. The singer and composer Serge Gainsbourg was a regular customer of the Relais Plaza restaurant. The Plaza Athénée is the haute couture palace of Paris. I would have my coffee there everyday, especially for its chocolate delicacies. Having a coffee at the Plaza Athénée is a memorable experience. Treat yourself like a movie star just for an hour!
The most memorable meal you’ve had while traveling…
This is a good question. Clément and I are both food lovers. We would always pick the local charming restaurant before the fashionable venue. When traveling, we follow both our local friends' pieces of advice and our instinct. Because we study fashion brands a lot before recommending them to our clients, we have developed a certain pickiness when it comes to restaurants. Going to a restaurant is going to someone’s house. It is about soul and passion. Not about set design and location.
Our best reference is the Argentine chef Francis Mallmann. I have never met someone with so much physical involvement in his gastronomic projects. Clément wrote a book called Ma Vie à Buenos Aires about his 10 years’ worth of tips from the city. The first time he interviewed Francis Mallmann, they became friends. We went to his restaurant Patagonia Sur in the La Boca neighborhood. The restaurant is literally his house, an old Italian style mansion from the mid 1800s.
And of course, with Francis Mallmann, we share the same passion for this one place in Zapallar, Chile, called El Chiringuito. This place is right on the sea, on the edge of a little cliff, perched on a big rock. The view is outstanding. The fish and the seafood are fresh. Early in the morning, fishermen and waiters organize the catch of the day in huge ice containers–a movie scene from the early 1900s.
A not-to-be-missed favorite experience…
Going to Paris is already an experience. Coco Chanel craved hot chocolate at Angelina’s. Jean Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg setted their romantic idyll in the city of Lights for Jean Louis Godard’s film, A Bout de Souffle (Out of Breath). Robert Doisneau, famous post-war French photographer, immortalized the Parisian love affair with his black-and-white picture “Le Baiser” (The Kiss). Paris is the most glamorous and poetic city in the world. Even on rainy days.
Benoît Astier de Villatte and Ivan Pericoli, two Paris lovers, could be part of Honoré de Balzac’s Comédie Humaine (Human Drama) characters. Their sense of Paris is theatrical. They have managed to express their passion for Paris through their inimitable tableware ceramics and their one-of-a-kind cult book, Ma Vie à Paris (My life in Paris).
The duo created a new concept of ceramics, using classical forms with a dark ceramic paste which displays a unique contrast with the total white glaze. The result is a uniformed set of beautiful imperfect pieces. Put them all together for a meditative and quiet effect. Their ceramics are profound and going to an Astier de Villatte Store in Paris is a trip to the past. No wonder why the guru of aesthetics, the Argentine chef Francis Mallmann, loves their pieces so much. We recommend visiting the Rue de Tournon store, near Luxembourg gardens.
Underrated location, overrated location, personal favorite, recent discovery?
Underrated location: Place Dauphine, on the beautiful île de la Cité, is one of the five “Places Royales” of Paris. We got married there in September 2019, at the bar du Caveau. The other four are: Place Vendôme, Place des Vosges, Places des Victoires and Place de la Concorde.
Overrated location: You are in Paris! Nothing is overrated! But because you are giving me the opportunity to express myself, I believe that you should always consider walking the streets of Paris instead of joining the desperate crowds going up to the top floor of the Eiffel tower, the Arc de Triomphe or the Montparnasse tower.
Personal favorite: La rue du Bac in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. From Cassina, B&B, Bon Marché, Chatelles to Café Varenne, this street is the perfect Saturday walk for the family.
Recent discovery: Da Rocco, an Italian grocery shop and daily restaurant on the rue de Grenelle. Rocco, the owner, makes a parmigiana that tastes just like the south of Italy. My favorite lunch in my neighborhood.
The hardest-working item you always pack…
Should it be a Roman holiday or a Little Miss Sunshine-type adventure, there is always one item that travels with us. We hate it when we pack it. We love it when we arrive at our destination. It is the key to a beautiful silhouette. I’m talking about the HAT.
Clément and I are both hat people. These objects are very hard to travel with. You can’t check them and once on the plane, you need to make sure that nobody will smash them with their luggage in the rack. What a stressful situation!
Once in Mexico, Clément was waiting in line to get on the plane with a pile of 10 hats on his head. I could not stop laughing. We looked like clowns with all our fashion souvenirs from Mexico. We have not found the solution to this dramatic situation yet. We are still working on it. In our dreams, we would place an order for a made-to-measure trunk from Pinel & Pinel, a master creator of trunks, luggage and boxes.
Oh, and our favorite chapelier is Motsch. Created by Ernest Motsch in 1887, it is now part of the Hermès family group. The original store, located at the 42 avenue George V, now houses both brands, Motsch and Hermès. Motsch is famous for its Panama hats and elegant top hats. At the Hermès Motsch boutique, you will find an antique hat rounder that is still in usage.
What is something you wished we all knew or were better at as travelers?
“Le véritable voyage, ce n'est pas de parcourir le désert ou de franchir de grandes distances sous-marines, c'est de parvenir en un point exceptionnel où la saveur de l'instant baigne tous les contours de la vie intérieure.”
“The real journey is not to travel over the desert or to cross huge underwater distances. It is to arrive at an exceptional point where all the outlines of the inner life are bathed in the flavor of that moment.” —Antoine de Saint Exupéry
How do you want people to reach out to you?
We would love to be reached by email/phone or Instagram.
email@example.com - Justinasocaslm@gmail.com
Tel. +33660612882 @justinasocas @clemlecoz