Monday, June 27, 2011

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler: Good Times in New Orleans

Gay-mardi-grasAs posted on 05.17.11

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler
That’s New Orleans’ French for "Let the Good Times Roll."
It had been 10 years since I visited the city branded by a Fleur de Lis. During that time a lot of things have changed, but the things I love have remained. Let me run you down what I loved best.

NewOrleansLA-Harrahs New OrleansStay:
Harrah’s New Orleans
8 Canal Street
I wasn’t ready for how grand Harrah’s was. It probably does help when you get picked up from the airport in a limousine, so ask for VIP airport pickup. The check-in was a whole other level of service. Within minutes I had been greeted by Leslie, Sean, Nick and few other managers and had engaging conversations. When I departed, Leslie made sure to give me a hug: Now that is excellent service.
The room also exceeded my expectations. The bathroom was so glamorous that I had an impromptu photo shoot, to the great dismay of my Facebook friends who wanted to know what was the story behind it—sorry kids, no story! Depending on the day of the week, you’re looking at anywhere between $199 to $399. My recommendation is to check the Rate Calendar and the “check for promotions” page; for example, there is 35%-off special running now. But not before you check their LGBT page.
Harrah's HallwayWhich brings me to something else I really liked about Harrah’s: The LGBT friendly vibe was genuine, not forced. You could tell by conversations with the staff that sexual identity was not anyone’s concern. Best of all their current campaign called “Come Out and Play,” which I had seen in the last issue of The Advocate and assumed was aimed at the gay market (in my defense there was 4 guys on the image with the slogan), is actually their national campaign. The “come out” is like a wink to us. What sealed the deal was when I realized that the HRC ‘Best Places to Work’ logo was on all their ads, not just the ones in The Advocate. Now that’s inclusion for you.
The Garden District
Walk by Anne Rice’s house and other legendary pads. Check out this walking tour info before you go, so you know what you’re looking at.
Besh Steak
8 Canal Street at Harrah’s casino
This was probably the best meal I’ve had this decade. Although it’s know for its meat, as my friends can testify, I ended up with a Surf & Turf that raised my appreciation for lobster to a new level. Service was excellent, too.
Stay & Eat:
Hotel Monteleone 
214 Royal Street
This is where legendary writers stay / have stayed. You can almost feel the creative juices flowing through the hotel. If you are there on the weekend, their Sunday brunch is a must.
The Gay Easter Parade
See for yourself why it's a must-hit event.
Arnaud’s Remoulade
309 Bourbon Street
Jambalaya, etoufĂ©, gumbo, fresh oysters, boudin, softshell crab… all the dishes New Orleans is known for in a casual, friendly surrounding.
Masquerade @ Harrah’s is doing a gay night every other Wednesday. Here are the 3 other places you must drop by.
800 Bourbon Street
The Bourbon Pub & Parade 
801 Bourbon Street
Good Friends Bar 
740 Dauphine Street
For a list of all other gay bars, gay restaurants, and gay-friendly places to get in trouble at, check out New Orleans Online.