Itch-Free Austin, Itch-Free New Orleans
May 26, 2013 5:11 PM   Subscribe

My best pal and I will be road tripping to Austin and New Orleans this July. We've had a bit of trouble finding budget accommodations that don't have 20+ negative reports on the Bedbug Registry -- especially in NOLA. Any hotel/motel/dorm wizards have suggestions? PLUS where should we go in Austin and NOLA to satisfy our many cultural/gastronomic itches? Snowflakes inside!


lindy hop. Is there a best place to dance, ideally with live bands, in NOLA, especially?

Interesting food of all types.

Art & galleries.

Indie music (ie. some Pitchfork-y, All Songs Considered, CBC Radio 3-type stuff)

Design-y things/vintage clothes

Weird museums/attractions

Street festivals

Off the beaten path stuff/things locals like/non-touristy stuff



Thanks for your help!
posted by Miss T.Horn to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: In Austin -- I've stayed at the Austin Motel, the LaQuinta Downtown, and the Laquinta Highland Mall multiple times with zero bedbug problems.

I've never really believed the Bedbug Registry, anyway. It seems highly susceptible to false reports from disgruntled guests and miscreants.
posted by Unified Theory at 5:28 PM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I stayed with this Air BnB couple in NOLA last summer. They were really great hosts!
posted by mollymayhem at 5:30 PM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: stayed at the Royal Sonesta in New Orleans. Great hotel, extremely clean.
posted by jerseygirl at 6:08 PM on May 26, 2013

Best answer: We've had good luck with the Sheraton on Canal in New Orleans. Friends have stayed at the Monteleone recently and had good reports.

As for food, Stella is always a great bet. So is Delmonicos, Galatoires.

Weird museums: I've always wanted to go to the Pharmacy Museum in the Quarter. In Austin, we always enjoyed the Cathedral of Junk.
posted by Leezie at 7:16 PM on May 26, 2013

Best answer: While away from the action of New Orleans, I stayed at the Crescent Palms motel on my trip there a few weeks ago. It was nice, clean, nothing awesome, but was a place to crash.
posted by deezil at 7:29 PM on May 26, 2013

Best answer: Also, go on this tour. Worth all the money and it's so so fun.
posted by deezil at 7:30 PM on May 26, 2013

Never been to Austin, but I can comment on New Orleans.

I lived in Nola for 11 years (up until last year) and never heard about any bedbug problem in hotels. I don't know any budget accommodations per se - I have stayed in some great hotels in New Orleans but I wasn't paying for them so they probably weren't cheap.

FYI I imagine that you will see a lot of cheap hotels/motels that say "minutes from downtown New Orleans" but are actually in Metairie (suburbs). If you have your own car then you won't be paying a ton cabbing it back and forth from the 'burbs, and parking at your hotel won't be astronomical, but then it's a lot more annoying for the person who has to drive and not get drunk. Just something to think about.

As for deezil's hotel suggestion, I wouldn't recommend the Crescent Palms - that is really *not* a safe neighborhood. New Orleans is tough because neighborhoods can go from good to bad at the turn of a corner. I think you might be better off doing some searching and then checking back to ask some locals (or former locals) if the places are decent. If you find a few places that look promising, feel free to MeMail me and I can tell you if the area is sketchy or not.

Keep an eye on the local college radio station, Tulane's WTUL. They have a good event calendar, and also post stuff on Facebook. There are a couple current former WTUL DJs on MeFi (msconduct and darainwa) who live in New Orleans and could maybe direct you to specific stuff going on when you are there.

There are a ton of good recommendations on previous AskMes about attractions and such. There are some fun monthly art markets, and many of them have affordable/quirky/cute stuff. Look up the Freret Market, Palmer Park Art Market, OCH Art Market. Also there are a ton of festivals. Hell, when I visited in October for a wedding we came across two downtown without even planning for them!
posted by radioamy at 10:09 PM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: New Orleans:

Bedbugs are not something I hear about in casual conversation here. I don't think that you have to fear them if you're staying at any reputable hotel or B&B. I can't speak to any couch surfing / hostels / etc. but seriously, not a one of my friends has ever reported having problems here. Of course the vast majority of us sleep in our own homes every night, not at hostels, so what do we know?

I recently had a friend in town who is into swing dancing and we hit up Melange on Chartres (just off Frenchmen) and the music and dancing there was good, and he saw several people that he'd recently encountered at some swing workshop out of town, etc. Everyone eventually ends up at the Spotted Cat, honestly.

There are literally too many restaurants to recommend. I'll just say that my highlights list of the past six months includes Toups' Meatery, Maurepas Foods, Mariza, Pizza Delicious, Pho Tau Bay, and Domilise's. If you'll give a more specific target I can narrow it down.

Art and galleries - just stroll Royal St. in the French Quarter during business hours.

Indie music: pick up a copy of The Gambit (available free almost everywhere) when you hit town, or check their site at Best of New Orleans and scan the music section. There is live music somewhere in this town every single night. Look specifically for One Eyed Jacks as they seem to have the best mid-popularity indie shows. See also Republic, Howling Wolf.

I've got nothing for you on vintage clothing, sorry.

Weird museums / attractions: I don't know. The entire city, basically.

Street festivals: if you're here early early July you can catch Essence Fest. If you're here early-mid July then you can catch San Fermin Nueva Orleans, our "running of the bulls" where "bulls" means "roller derby girls who will beat hell out of you with whiffle ball bats". Past that it gets too hot for street festivals and we all just sit inside and drink mint juleps or gin-and-tonics.

Off the beaten path: Again, I don't know. Go to any locals' bar outside the French Quarter (suggestions: Twelve Mile Limit, Avenue Pub, Mick's, Rendezvous Tavern, Balcony Bar, The Kingpin) and strike up a conversation with a local, which should take about 60 seconds. Ask them what the best thing is to do here. You'll get a different answer and adventure from each person.
posted by komara at 10:09 PM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

In New Orleans, I enjoyed walking along the river. There's a broad path, and some sculpture, and the shipping traffic explains why there will always be a city there. It's a great place to walk. There's the French Market with interesting shopping between the river and the French Quarter, and it's tourist-y but fun to get coffee and beignet at Cafe Du Mond, alse between the river and the French Quarter. The French Quarter in daytime is full of interesting architecture, as is the Garden District. New Orleans has its own approach to life, talk to people and enjoy it.
posted by theora55 at 7:38 AM on May 27, 2013

Best answer: I don't hear much about bedbugs either... I mean, I live in NOLA, so I don't stay in hotels, but as far as I know it's not a huge issue. There are lots of airbnb rooms, which might be your best bet for low price + charm.

Find a show by Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns. They're a killer swing combo that brings out the serious dancers. They play out pretty frequently, especially on Frenchmen Street. Or you can just wander down Frenchmen at night, and you'll probably hear some swing. Mimi's in the Marigny used to host an excellent swing night, but it's on hiatus due to noise-permit issues. The food is good though! Just a few blocks away is the Lost Love Lounge, a very friendly, mellow bar with a Vietnamese restaurant in the back.

The African American History Museum in Treme is well worth a visit. They have Mardi Gras Indian suits, which are mind-boggling.

I have heard many good things about the Ogden, though I haven't been yet. It's right by the WWII museum, which might be worth a visit as well.

The New Orleans Art Museum is kind of spotty, but has some amazing stuff too. Wednesdays are free. It's in beautiful City Park, which normally I would recommend, but it will be very, very, very hot and muggy outside. Also it will probably rain a lot.

Bacchanal in the Bywater is a lovely, casual wine-food-and-music joint. Elizabeth's has killer food, breakfast and dinner, but go on a weekday to avoid a crazy wait. Sugar Park has some of the best hamburgers I've ever had, it's very affordable. and the owners are awesome. (Also, peanut butter pie. Trust me.)

Well, everywhere, really. But try The Healing Center on St. Claude Avenue for the Island of Salvation Botanica/voodoo shop. Lots of thrifting on St. Claude too. The Piety St. Market on July 13th has local vendors--it's located in a very cool old building.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 8:12 AM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

There's a lot of good (for the most part) information on NOLA regarding where to eat on Metafilter. I would recommend checking those threads out. There's just so many good restaurants it's difficult to tackle a general 'where to eat' question. My favorite restaurant right now is August. I find Commander's Palace and Galatoires to be the quintessential New Orleans dining experiences, and the restaurant I'm looking forward to trying out soon is Stellas. All these places are on the expensive side, but there's also plenty of good, cheap food in New Orleans as well.

For dancing you might want to check out Rock 'n' Bowl. I haven't been there since they've moved, but they have fantastic live music, and at the old place a dance floor that was always very active. They also had swing dance lessons. As I said, haven't been to their new place. But I would be shocked if dancing wasn't still a part of the scene.

As far as begbugs, I stay in hotels pretty often in New Orleans, and though I've stayed at nicer hotels, usually it's the cheaper ones (compared to the hotels people have stayed in this thread). Nothing against nice hotels, I just prefer not to spend a lot for some place that I'm just crashing at for a few hours. All that said, I've never had any experience with bedbugs, ever.

I'd be more prepared for the heat. You maybe coming from a hot/humid are yourself, so it might not be that big of a deal. But New Orleans in the summer can be absolutely sweltering. I would take that into consideration.
posted by justgary at 3:00 PM on May 27, 2013

I'll link you to a comment I made about checking for bedbugs a while back. Your best bet is to worry about the specific room you're in, unless there are dozens of recent reports about dozens of different rooms in the hotel you're considering. And you have two tools at your disposal: first, you can ask for a new room if you find bedbugs. Second, you can pack in bags that can fit in your dryer and run everything, including bags, through a dry cycle the minute you walk back into your house.
posted by Addlepated at 11:31 AM on May 28, 2013

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