More Than Just a Hotel, This Could Be Your New Favorite Hangout
There’s a new hotel in town, and it’s a lot more than just a place for out-of-towners to crash for a night or two. It’s a place to shop, eat, drink, take in a concert… a place full of culture and history, of art and music, for tourists and locals alike.
On March 14, Ace Hotel New Orleans opened its doors and started welcoming guests to stop by for a break, a meal, or an overnight stay. Only the 8th hotel in the Ace Hotel brand, the New Orleans location, like all its sister hotels, aims to preserve and promote local culture, as well as maintain the historic integrity of the building it occupies. Ace Hotel reps explain, “Ace Hotel New Orleans… attempts to honor the heritage of the city and the bones of the building itself. It is a place for the city’s bastions of culture—organizations and institutions, historical societies and blues guitarists, festivals and vinyl collectors. It is a gathering place.”
The new hotel is located in the CBD, at 600 Carondelet Street at Lafayette Street in a building previously occupied (until the 1970's) by the Max Barnett Furniture Store. It features all the bells and whistles of a nice, modern hotel (free wi-fi, gym, rooftop pool and bar, meeting and conference spaces, a 24-hour concierge, etc.). But unlike your ordinary hotel, Ace Hotel New Orleans also offers a whole lot more. There are many retail stores about to open, several places to eat and drink-- including a Stumptown Coffee Roasters café coming soon (the first one in the South), Alto (the rooftop bar and restaurant), an Oyster and Cocktail Bar, and Josephine Estelle, the hotel’s primary restaurant. The restaurant, spearheaded by James Beard Award-nominated chefs Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman, offers delicious Italian cuisine influenced by good ol’ southern cooking. I recommend the Arancini appetizer (fried rice balls with cheese), the scallops entrée, and the Peanut Butter Budino (a tasty peanut butter parfait) for dessert.
The hotel also houses Barnett Hall, a 4000-square foot events hall, as well as Three Keys, which is the music venue space. This sure-to-become trendy hotspot will host a wide range of must-see shows, such as guest speakers, radio broadcasts on WWOZ, film screenings, burlesque performances, and of course DJ’s and live music. An exciting upcoming event is the Six of Saturns music series. Ace Hotel New Orleans is working closely with the Preservation Hall Foundation to bring a series of music events, free and open to the public, during this year’s Jazz Fest.
The hotel’s décor is a combination of the new and historic, thanks to the mad skills of architects Eskew+Dumez+Rippple and interior design firm Roman & Williams. The floors in the lobby are original, and there are plenty of found objects-- such as scenic backdrops from the New Orleans Opera House, and salvaged wrought-iron gates marking the entrance from the lobby to the restaurant. The artwork is eclectic, the colors are rich, and the modern-meets-retro style is evident in the furniture, lighting and design.
Each of the 234 rooms in the hotel has a snack bar with plenty of local goodies, a flat screen HD TV, and a working record player (vinyl is the new iTunes) with records selected by local DJ Brice Nice. Giving a nod to the beautiful architecture of New Orleans, the windows— looking out over stellar views of the city—have old-school shutters instead of curtains. The hotel also worked with local artists to deck the walls with original artwork, as well as providing an artsy, NOLA-centric hand-painted armoire in every room. Even the calendars hanging in the rooms-- which portray various iconic New Orleans scenes such as a crawfish boil-- were created by area teenage artists, through the Young Creative Agency.
And never mind the mini fridge, Ace Hotel gives you a full-size, vintage-style refrigerator, custom-designed for the New Orleans location in “French Quarter green.” The fridges are stocked with an amateur bartender’s dream: everything you could possibly require for do-it-yourself cocktails in your room, from cocktail shakers and recipes to cutting boards for fresh-cut garnishes…and of course, the booze. If that doesn’t satisfy you, you can order room service around the clock, head downstairs to get a bite or drink at one of the hotel’s eating and drinking spots, or venture out to one of the many cool watering holes within walking distance of the hotel.
“We wanted the hotel to be linked to the local culture, a living part of the community—like the experience of staying with friends who are plugged into the local scene,” the Ace folks say. But if staying at Ace Hotel New Orleans is like staying with friends, you’d have to have some really awesome friends, who offer you really nice digs—as good as any classy studio apartment you might find, stocked with snacks and liquor, and decorated with the flair of something you might see on HGTV; friends who are willing to wait on you 24 hours a day, and who bring plenty of local talent in to perform for you right there in their living room. Don’t have any friends like that? It’s okay, head to Ace Hotel New Orleans instead. They’ll take care of you.