There are few cities in America that know how to throw a party quite like New Orleans. From the most raucous Mardi Gras celebration in the country to the everydaycelebrations on Bourbon Street, The Big Easy knows how to get down. But when it comes to getting down and bedding down in New Orleans, one place does it best: The Royal Street Inn & Bar.
Tucked away off the beaten path, blocks from the beads and beer bongs on Bouron Street, sits a classic New Orleans bar with an attached inn. But don't expect stay at the Royal Street Inn & Bar to be a quiet, relaxing affair. From the moment you check into one of the Inn's five rooms, you've signed a contract to party for the length of your stay, a deal sealed with the handful of complimentary drink tokens for use later on in the evening. Make no mistake - the music at this place is loud, the air is smoky, and the crowd is rowdy... but that's the point.
The R-Bar has done its best to remain as true to the idea of being a "neighborhood bar", offering a good selection of inexpensive drinks and enough room for a pool table, and they've managed to keep the fun, spontaneous vibe that comes with being a "dive bar" without actually being too divey. The available rooms also fit the same motif, their exposed wood floors and red accents feeling "worn in" without being worn out.
What makes the Royal Street Inn really stand out, though, are a few of its quirkiest offerings. On game days, for instance, there's often a life-size voodoo doll meant to represent the entirety of the opposing team. Feel free to stick an oversized in in pit, cast your best curse, or just call it mean names. That's what it's there for.
Every Monday the R-Bar offers a particularly special deal: for $10 you get to climb into a comfy chair in front of the bar where you're given a shot and a haircut. Yes, by a real barber. Regardless of what you think about getting a trim at a bar, that's a screaming deal.
Of all their offbeat anemities, though, the Royal Street Inn & Bar's most well-loved has to be it's Friday night Crawfish Boil. Located upstairs, the bar brings in a local chef to boil up more crawfish than you can shake a stick at, and here's the best part: not only has it been rated as one of the most delishious crawfish boils in the entire city - IT'S FREE. You're just encouraged to tip the chef for his work.
If all of this seems like a great spot to get the creative juices flowing, you'd be right. Back in 1994, the Royal Street Inn was where the Afghan Whigs spent a good portion of their time between recording tracks on their 1998 album "1965". The bar left such an impression on the Whigs' Greg Dulli, that he bought a stake in it years later.
"It was always my favorite neighborhood bar in New Orleans," he told Esquire last year. "I've known a lot of the regulars for 16, 17 years, and we open at 3 and we close whenever we feel like it. Half the time, it stays open until 6 in the morning, so it's absolutely one of my favorite bars in the entire world. We retained the ethos of the neighborhood bar."
From the classic 70s B-movies constantly running on the screens above the bar, to the poker machines along the walls, to one of the best jukebox selections you'll find in the city, the Royal Street Inn & Bar maintains its effortlessly cool vibe even when the party is raging on.
If you're looking to hang like a local the next time you hit the Big Easy, you can find more more information about the Royal Street Inn and R-Bar, including hours, reviews, and turn-by-turn directions here. Just make sure you save your haircut for Monday.
Looking for more great places to hang out in New Orleans? If you're not afraid of ghosts, there's plenty of bars that can whet your whistle.
Pat O'Brien's is like the Bird Cage Theater of its time. Nicknamed the “greatest bar in the French Quarter”, Pats is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Get this: the bar has served a billion people during its generations of service… that’s a lot of PBR’s.
That’s not the only scary thing about Pat O’Brien’s - it’s also reportedly haunted by a whole gang of ghosts. Often times staff members hear the sounds of heavy boot steps walking around the bar area, or the sound of the nearby piano playing on its own. Finally, others have even experienced being pushed our touched by unseen hands. If you’re visiting Pat O’Brien’s make sure to ask the staff about their own personal experiences, and prepare for a sleepless night.
Nicknamed the "heart and soul of the old quarter of New Orleans", it's said that "Everyone you have ever known or ever will know, eventually ends up at The Old Absinth House."
Built in 1806 by Pedro Front and Francisco Juncadelia, "Alexi's Coffee House" became an absinth house in the 1860s, and quickly became one of the most popular places in the city. When absinth was finally outlawed in 1912, the authorities threatened to burn the bar to the ground if they didn't close their doors for good. Under the cloak of darkness, the owners moved the famous "copper-colored wooden bar" to a secret warehouse, and continued to serve the illegal drink.
In 2004 the bar was returned to its original home on Bourbon street, and according to staff, the ghosts followed. Some of the paranormal activity that takes place at the Old Absinthe House includes doors opening and closing, bottles moving, and even chairs grouping together on their own, almost as if the ghosts were getting together after hours.