Our Favorite Spots in the City to Drink Poolside
by Dario El-Badry, NOLA Brew Bus Tour Guide
Updated: June 11, 2018
Tom Robbins said as soon as you get to New Orleans “something wet and dark leaps on you and starts humping you like a swamp dog in heat,” in other words, it’s already hot enough to bake cookies on your dashboard. For a city barely above sea level, with 60 miles of swamp between it and the nearest body of decently clean water, one would imagine a water park on every other corner, but unfortunately, we’ve only got snowball stands and daiquiri shops.
Few have uttered the words, “God, I love summer in New Orleans,” without a sarcastic undertone, and while we could whine and moan, anyone who’s spent more than a year here knows that complaining about the heat doesn’t make it any more bearable.
It’s already June, and according to Instagram half the town has taken to white sand and crystal clear Caribbean waters. For those that can’t escape the unfathomable city, the Brew Bus Krewe have compiled a list of the best pools in town to take the edge off.
The Country Club 634 Louisa St., Bywater
You’re Drinking: The Buddy System- Two shots, your choice with Stiegel Radler over ice
Admission: $8 to $15
Hours: 10am to 1am
What started as a queer hangout over 40 years ago still flies the rainbow flag proudly, but today the clientele ranges from anyone to everyone. Many thought The Country Club would be ancient history once they told us that birthday suits were no longer an acceptable form of pool attire, but this longstanding Bywater institution is going stronger than ever. It has the largest pool and best seating situation of any pool in this list, too.
Though rain is everyone’s second biggest hurdle of summer, there’s a hot tub nestled between some palms and the bar switches over the happy hour until the weather clears up. Their food always receives high praise, and can be enjoyed on the front patio, beautiful interior dining room, or poolside. Attending a Saturday Drag Brunch should be on every New Orleanian’s bucket list, but requires a reservation weeks or months in advance.
Alto at The Ace Hotel 600 Carondelet Street, CBD
You’re Drinking: Penicillin – A frozen cocktail with scotch, lemon, honey, and ginger
Admission: Free with $20 bar purchase
From Portland, to Chicago, to New York, and now finally right here at home. The Ace is an event in and of itself: sip an iced coffee from the coldbrew taps at Stumptown, check out live local talent at Three Keys, enjoy a meal at one of their stellar restaurants, or head to the rooftop for sweeping panoramas at Alto, the rooftop poolside bar and restaurant.
The W Hotel 316 Chartres St., French Quarter
You’re Drinking: Frosé- Frozen Rosé, ‘nuff said
Admission: $30, can be used for food and drink credit
Hours: Sunday’s 7am-9pm
Usually boutique hotel in the French Quarter means, “Don’t complain about the roach situation,” but the W French Quarter is far too chic for that, it reads more French than Quarter. On
On Sundays, the courtyard is open to all of us looking for a reprieve from the oasis we call home. Don’t miss Sunday mornings at SoBou either, as Bella Blue performs Legs and Eggs, a brunch time burlesque show. You can purchase tickets in advance here.
Omni Royal Orleans 621 St. Louis St., French Quarter
You’re Drinking: Maple Mule- Think Moscow Mule with rich maple syrup
Admission: Hotel Guests Only as of May 2018, sorry!
The Omni rooftop is arguably the most picturesque, nestled smack in the middle of the French Quarter and perched high above the surrounding slate rooftops. From the observation deck, you can see cruise ships and freight liners come in and out or watch tourists stumble around Jackson Square.
The atmosphere is relaxed and the pool is always just the right temperature. Plenty of umbrellas are there for those not trying to bake, and there’s a covered area by the bar for the inevitable afternoon monsoon.
Le Meridien Hotel 333 Poydras, CBD
This newly renovated hotel in the middle of the CBD action gets an A+ for swankiness. The fourth-floor rooftop pool overlooking Harrah’s Casino doesn’t disappoint either, except in the seating department so arrive early to guarantee yourself a spot in the limited lounge chairs.
Locals can bake and dip on the weekend, though they do have a BYOT (Bring Your Own Towel) policy. For those trying to spend some serious coin, they have cabanas for rent that can fit six of your best buddies and includes bottle service. You can book online here.
You’re Drinking: Limited options here, stick with a Malibu and pineapple
Admission: Saturday and Sunday 11AM-6PM
Hours: $15, one drink included
The Drifter Hotel 3522 Tulane Ave., Mid-City
You’re Drinking: Frozen Basil Mojito
Hours: 7 days a week until the neighbors complain
The new kid on the block has certainly made a big splash since opening in 2017. Located on a rather unassuming part of Tulane Avenue, the Drifter’s backyard patio has an atmosphere unlike anything to be found at the “love motels” in the area.
There is a distinct throwback vibe to the place, as the ambience is reminiscent to the set of Boogie Nights; be sure to take your speedo and mustache.
For those upset about The Country Club nixing the clothing optional policy, The Drifter has a pretty laid back policy as far as toplessness goes… for now.
The hotel hosts pop-up kitchens, food trucks, Djs, live music, drag, burlesque, and fashion shows: there’s a runway over the pool somehow. The word about this spot has spread quickly, so get there early to guarantee yourself a lounge chair.
NORD Pools 16 across the city
At least once a year someone decides to try and brave the mighty waters of the Mississippi. It hasn’t gone well…ever. Even if Djs, cocktails, rooftops, and swanky hotels aren’t your thing, New Orleans has 16 pools citywide that are 100% free of deathly currents, toxic waste, and admission fees. Check the website for hours and locations
There are plenty of other ways to stay cool aside from clinging to your AC unit. Just because you don’t see a hotel pool listed here, doesn’t mean there’s no way get yourself in *wink*wink*
*nudge*nudge.* Most tourists aren’t coming to New Orleans to sip beers poolside. That’s our job! This means that there are dozens of empty pools waiting to be explored. Also consider a staycation, as many hotels offer discount rates during the slow season.
Happy summer, y’all. Stay cool.
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