Eliza JaneWill Speros • Photography courtesy Eliza Jane • July 11, 2018
Architecture and design practice was given a simple but staggering brief for the : Craft the quintessential New Orleans hotel at any location of its choice. The definitive Big Easy property revealed itself near the city’s French Quarter in the form of seven historic warehouses.
To craft the expansive 196-room hotel for owner , the New York firm first removed the brick walls that partitioned each building, establishing an open interior that shows off original details, such as brick and metalwork throughout. “Working with the existing conditions to preserve historic details” was one of the biggest challenges, says firm principal Michael Suomi. Yet, the firm took care to honor the building’s previous inhabitants, including Gulf Baking Soda, Peychaud Bitters Factory, and the local newspaper the Daily Picayune, which was published until 1914.
Indeed, the heart of the design scheme is the hotel’s namesake, the Daily Picayune‘s first female publisher Eliza Jane Nicholson. Her influence is referenced in a feminine aesthetic that embraces bold floral accents and jewel-toned fabrics. Cheeky notes like custom murals and locally sourced vintage typewriters are another nod to the property’s former life. “We wanted the right balance of fancy and funky,” explains senior interior designer Bethany Gale. “It was important to us to feel a sense of history without going too old and frumpy, so we fused a contemporary palette with some more traditional furniture shapes,”
Guests enter the hotel, whose branding is overseen by , through bright red doors and nearly travel back in time. Mosaic flooring leads to a reception desk clad in painted dark blue wood paneling, a new addition that complements the old fireplace and shelving. Walking through original masonry arches, the Press Room lounge is a moody space that is “almost all vintage walls and ceiling elements,” says Suomi, and is characterized by a fern leaf pattern and artwork and textiles that reflect the revivalist fashion popular during Nicholson’s lifetime.
Six smaller spaces were consolidated into the hotel’s indoor-outdoor courtyard, which is linked to the onsite restaurant via arched passageways accented with overgrown foliage. Black and white cement flooring spans the area, which is anchored by a custom Venus-inspired sculpture from artist Brent Barnidge. Gas lanterns and ceilings fans suspended from a custom pergola complete the look. Eliza Jane also hosts a restaurant concept managed by Makeready.
Nearly 50 configurations span the hotel’s 196 guestrooms, with the two main layouts embracing palettes of powder blue and dusty rouge, respectively. Floral accents pop up here, too, with black hex flooring and white subway tiles in bathrooms offering a modern twist. Some even boast freestanding bathtubs that overlook Magazine Street from full-height windows.
“We want [guests] to feel [as though] they are stepping into something that is simultaneously fun, formal, relaxed, vintage, and also modern,” Suomi says. “This may sound contradictory, however, we have so many twists and turns and unique public areas in this property, so we had many chapters to tell this story.”