Tips + Trends

Best Ways to Blow Your Budget in the Big Easy

(Photo: Colin Anderson/Getty Images)

Sometimes you just have to treat yourself, and there is no better place to splurge than in New Orleans, known for its excess. Whether you’ve got $100 or $1,000 to burn, try these extravagant experiences.

The Splurge: Lunch at Galatoire’s (about $200 for two)

At a little over 100 years old, Galatoire’s isn’t the oldest of New Orleans’ grand old Creole restaurants – that distinction goes to Antoine’s, which served its first diners in 1840. An elegant lunch in the mirrored, tiled Galatoire’s dining room, however, is a time-honored tradition for the New Orleans elite, particularly on Fridays, when even former kings of Carnival must wait on a line that stretches down Bourbon Street. (The main dining room, the heart of the action, doesn’t take reservations; you can reserve a table upstairs, though.) Tradition is key at Galatoire’s. Diners will request the same waiter over the course of decades – the maitre’d will ask you at the door if you have one – and when they switched from hand-chipped ice to machine-made cubes in the ’90s, patrons vehemently protested. Dine like the first patrons did back in 1905 on classic dishes like crabmeat maison with its extravagant lump crabmeat and creamy dressing, oysters en brochette and Gulf fish amandine. Make sure to end with café brulot – booze and coffee lit on fire – and eavesdrop on the old-line movers and shakers of New Orleans.

The Splurge: “Be in Love” Couple’s Spa Day at Belladonna (about $500)

This locally owned day spa and luxury bath and beauty boutique carries high-end fragrances, hair and skin products, books, candles and loungewear. Its sister store around the corner, Belladoggie, deals in similar pampering, but for your pup. Belladonna offers several indulgent spa packages for individuals and pairs; the “Be in Love” package for two includes a chocolate body scrub, massage, manicure, pedicure and a romantic spa lunch with champagne that can be served in Belladonna’s idyllic courtyard.

The Splurge: Charter a Yacht on Lake Pontchartrain ($4,995 for a three-hour cruise)

The Maison du Lac, on the edge of Lake Pontchartrain, hosts weddings and other fetes not only at its event space on land but also on its luxury yacht. The boat accommodates 24 guests, and though they specialize in occasions, you don’t really need one; sunset is good enough.