We haven't offered a travel guide in quite awhile however this bitter cold has me dreaming of a holiday escape. New Orleans has been on my mind as two of my close friends moved there from the West Village and apparently we shouldn't expect them back in New York anytime soon. Another dear friend, Permele Doyle, is also completely enamored with the city and I asked her for an insider's guide to her favorite spots. Permele is the Co-Founder and President of the social media marketing agency Billion Dollar Boy. With offices in New York and London, they use industry knowledge and proprietary technology to create the strategies and manage influencer campaigns for aspirational brands such as NARS, Estee Lauder Companies, Armani and Dirty Lemon. She also happens to be one of the loveliest people I know.
A native New Yorker based in New York City, Permele has been lucky enough to spend a great deal of time in New Orleans, Louisiana over the past two years while visiting her boyfriend who is a long-time New Orleanian running his family’s 5th generation business down there. He has helped her fall in love with the steamy, dreamy northernmost Caribbean city.
A perfect place to escape the brutal New York winter, Permele shares her New Orleans travel tips with us this week on Wynne's World.
What to pack- I will preface this by saying that I am no expert, but I’ve been lucky enough to have had two years discovering and falling in love with New Orleans and would love to share some of the things I’ve been taught spending time with real locals and not dropping into the city for a Bourbon Street bachelorette party!
It can be H-O-T in New Orleans, especially for a Yankee, so I depend on dresses for all seasons paired with Capri sandals, ballets flats or white Converse. Match those with Angela Caputi earrings and of course a Heidi Wynne bag. The straw bags are perfect for New Orleans and I usually carry the Olivia or St. Tropez during the day and bring the Edgartown clutch out with me at night.
I do recommend the best way to experience the neighborhoods is to walk around (though be advised just where you walk and at what hour…) and note that the French Quarter streets are not clean, and the Garden District streets are not level, so definitely pack a pair of comfortable chic sneakers to wear during the day.
Besides the big parties or Mardi Gras Balls, it is quite a casual place especially compared to New York, so I feel you can get away with a dress you transition between day and night for most any occasion. I am crazy about all the cotton and silk dresses from Sea NY and they have my become my uniform down here.
It does get cool in the late fall, winter and early spring so a Heidi Wynne cashmere scarf is the perfect accessory. Be sure to bring it with you to dinner ANY season, as all of the restaurants blast AC to arctic temperatures. A friend once said August was the coldest month in New Orleans.
Where to dine-My boyfriend lives in the Garden District so I go to a lot of restaurants there and Uptown but also am lucky enough to also experience every other part of the city. Here are my favorites:
Breakfast- My favorite breakfast is town is Surrey’s in the Lower Garden District. Be prepared to put your name down and a little wait, but it is perfect excuse to walk down the street past a very blooming bougainvillea tree and some fabulous Garden District houses.
Lower Garden District
Bearcat, a new favorite hot spot in town has “Good Cat” and "Bad Cat” menu options depending on your mood.
If you need a break from the fried upon fried get a salad and glass of rose at local favorite St. James Cheese in either location.
Coffee- One of my favorite things to do is to get up the in morning and walk past Lafayette Cemetery to Still Perkin’ to get an iced coffee, then wander through the streets of the Garden District. I have my favorite houses I like to visit, and truly discover a new gem each time I wander.
Permele in the Lafayette Cemetary
Best coffee in town is from local French Truck Coffee. They have several locations around town and are a great place to get some work done if a remote office is needed (and often is!).
Dinner- Our favorite New Orleans restaurant for classic creole cuisine in the French Quarter restaurant is Arnaud’s. I recently went to the celebration marking their 100 years. It is the best place for any special occasion, and a must-go when visiting town. Highly recommend ordering the Cafe Brulot after dinner. You won’t be disappointed.
Gautreau’s is where I had my first ever meal in New Orleans and it will always have a special place in my heart. I was taken there by my New Orleans heroine - the design and style guru and writer Angèle Parlange. Her relative Madame X is honored by a portrait by the door and the namesake of the restaurant. We sat at a round table in the perfectly lowly lit one-room restaurant with the most interesting group of eight and I remember Angèle laughed when my brother and I ordered lobster salad which she said was the “furthest away fish”. After a fabulous dinner, the charming proprietor Patrick helped all of the ladies get into out cars when a tropical rainstorm ensued. He said, “Ladies, take off your shoes!” and we ran barefoot into the pouring down rain, squealing and sliding into our UBERs while he tried his best to shield us with his umbrella. I had never experienced a true tropical rainstorm until I came to New Orleans. That night it rained so much our hotel flooded!
Permele with Angèle Parlange
La Petite Grocery is where I went on my first real date with my boyfriend and I will love it forever. It has perfect New Orleans ambiance, food and Sazeracs in its corner location.
Drinks- The ACE Hotel is a fantastic place to feel like you aren’t too far from New York while getting a sense of the young, creative life in New Orleans. Enjoy a drink after work at Josephine Estella or the separately owned Seaworthy directly next door.
Music-There is endlessly good music in New Orleans every night of the week, and around every corner. Many come down for the two-weekend long Jazz Fest in the end of April/early May that is a total blast of incredible outdoor performances with intermittent stops to get food from the best vendors in the state.
No trip to New Orleans is complete without a visit to see music Preservation Hall. Jazz performances are nightly, and not to be missed.
Get involved with a different and nonetheless most authentic side of New Orleans by visiting the Ellis Marsalis Center in Musician’s Village. In the Ninth Ward district that was completely wiped out by Hurricane Katrina. Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsellis led in the rebuild of the area, the home of many New Orleans musicians, and set up the Center to broaden opportunities for underprivileged youth and musicians in the area. They put on concerts weekly, and sometimes you will be so lucky as to sit front row to hear Branford Marselis perform. It is one of the many significant foundations to keep the character of New Orleans alive by supporting it’s best people.
Where to shop-Angele Parlange gave me one of my favorite possessions - a silk pink palm tree bathrobe from the design shop Perch and it has become my go-to for gifts since. It is on popular Magazine Street, where the best local boutiques are and its the perfect place for a leisurely stroll between design shops, antique stores and more.
Sunday Shop is my favorite store. I sometimes go just to have a moment in the serene beauty of the place. They have home design, beauty and will feature local or interesting designers for pop-ups, most recently the gorgeous local brand Lekha.
New Yorker turned New Orleanean design guru Sara Ruffin Costello has been so kind as to share her style by producing ikat and cotton dresses perfect for occasions down there or to bring back with you. If there is anyone I would want to look like it is her, and I can attempt to in my Bewitched Ikat Dress.
Cannot miss visiting the hottest eyewear brand KREWE at their home territory in their new Lower Garden District or French Quarter locations.
Permele in her KREWE frames in front of the Royal Street shop
Wander down Chartres Street in the French Quarter and stop at Hove for the most beautiful handmade New Orleans soaps or personalized fragrance. Spanish Moss and Tea Olive will bring the scents of New Orleans back home with you.
Permele's beauty essentials for the heat- Not much you can do besides great mascara, some bronzer and lipstick at night!
Where to stay- Henry Howard Hotel - Garden District boutique hotel that is the Instagram darling of late designed by my all-time favorite architect, Henry Howard who is responsible for all of the most beautiful Louisiana homes. Try to book rooms 201 or 202 with terrace.
Favorite Cultural Destinations- The place that really made me fall in love with New Orleans - Faulkner House Books. Down “Pirate’s Alley” in the heart of French Quarter, just off Jackson Square and opposite St. Louis Cathedral’s rear garden you cannot beat this location. Where Faulker lived as young writer, the townhouse is now owned and run by the ultimate Joe and Rosemary deSalvo. Go for the best selection of modern and classic Southern literature. Also a book collectors’ dream.
Don't forget to purchase stationary by the talented New Orleans native Alexa Pulitzer(even from the airport when you leave!) as the ultimate memento or great hostess gift. She has very fun place cards for every party location.