Atelier Ace expands into the luxury market with Maison de la Luz

This stylish New Orleans guesthouse combines exquisite design with discreet privacy.
February 24, 2020, 12:00 PM UTC
This stylish new New Orleans guesthouse is chockfull of high-end surprises.
Courtesy of Maison de la Luz

Atelier Ace has been instrumental in revitalizing the Warehouse District in downtown New Orleans. When the brand opened Ace Hotel New Orleans in 2016, it brought with it equally hip local tenants—from DNO, a streetwear-inspired clothing brand, to dessert shop Drip Affogato Bar. All of a sudden, there are things to do and see in this little corner of the city, all of which complement the restaurants, bars, and events the hotel itself would be putting together.

In 2019, Atelier Ace doubled down on its commitment to the neighborhood when it introduced Maison de la Luz, a design-forward guesthouse with a more luxurious edge.

“We had been thinking about opening a luxury guesthouse on a more intimate scale and had our eye on a century-old building across the street from Ace Hotel New Orleans,” says Kelly Sawdon, partner and chief brand officer at Atelier Ace. “When it became available, everything fell into place. The building was formerly the City Hall Annex, and with only 67 rooms, it was the perfect opportunity to explore new definitions of luxury in a city we were already in love with.”

The facade of the Maison de la Luz on Carondelet Street in New Orleans.
Courtesy of Maison de la Luz

Despite its location seconds away from the Ace property, Maison de la Luz is meant to offer an altogether different hospitality experience. For one, while Ace is known for tighter quarters, Maison de la Luz’s rooms are wildly spacious, from the 340-square-foot king rooms (starting at $399 per night) all the way up to the Grand Studio suite, which measures 620 square feet and fetches a $1,399 nightly rate. Many of these rooms feature soaring 17-foot ceilings, too.

And while Ace hotels are usually outfitted with social lobbies, hard-to-get-into restaurants, and cutting-edge bars, Maison de la Luz leans much more toward privacy. In fact, its breakfast and living rooms are strictly reserved for overnight guests, helping give the property an air of intimacy—a traveler’s sanctuary in the big city.

The concierge desk at Maison de la Luz.
Courtesy of Maison de la Luz

And for aesthetes, there’s plenty to discover within these four walls. Interiors were overseen by Pamela Shamshiri, the principal at California-based design agency Studio Shamshiri, who adopted a maximalist approach to every corner of the guesthouse.

There is so much to see, and for the social media–obsessed, plenty to upload on Instagram. There’s an Art Deco aspect to the building that is beautifully brought to life at the concierge desk, for example. After viewing its teal walls, marble countertop, gilded lamps, and tasseled room keys jutting out of tiny cubicles, guests could be forgiven for being momentarily convinced they were checking into a Wes Anderson fantasy instead.

The private salon at Maison de la Luz.
Courtesy of Maison de la Luz

Elsewhere, exceptional attention is paid to texture. The living room is a whimsical medley of global references—from Egyptian paintings to tribal masks to couches in a color block of sherbet hues to a custom-designed tiger rug. Next door at the breakfast room, the walls are covered with blue flowers, and there’s a mix-and-match collection of chairs to sit on. This somewhat over-the-top style makes perfect sense for a fabled city like New Orleans, where considered excess is a much better fit than the minimalism many other hotels go for today.

Sawdon says that this vision, which toes the line between grace and rebellion, doesn’t follow trends or convention. “We imagined a space where someone as brilliant, singular, and eccentric as Iris Apfel might live, using the house as a representation of her attentive and discerning eye,” she explains. “We worked with Studio Shamshiri to create a visual narrative that layered elements onto classic, traditional bones.”

The Grand Studio suite.
Courtesy of Maison de la Luz

The guest rooms are pared down by comparison, but there are still a lot of eye-catching pieces (most of which were exclusively designed or sourced for the project) to discover and to covet, whether that’s the black-and-gold Art Deco bedside bar, the fringed pendant lamps, or the sexy serpent shower-door handles—if there’s enough voodoo in the air, maybe it’ll come alive.

Bar Marilou at Maison de la Luz.
Courtesy of Maison de la Luz

There is one part of Maison de la Luz that is open to the public: Bar Marilou. Much like how the guesthouse elevates the hotel scene in the city, so does this drinking den. It’s a collaboration with Quixotic Projects, the famed hospitality group behind some of the coolest hangouts in Paris, including Le Mary Celeste and Candelaria. Tucked into the former law library of the City Hall Annex, Bar Marilou is Quixotic’s first foray outside the City of Light.

Thus, the inspiration here is tethered to both Paris and New Orleans. Quixotic and Ace wanted an atmospheric boîte—one that evoked “1970s Parisian drinking culture—long serendipitous nights spent among friends, or with a good book—and New Orleans’s rich history of cocktail bars,” Sawdon explains.

Champagne and burgers at Bar Marilou.
Courtesy of Maison de la Luz

And visually, this bar is just as opulent as the rest of the property. Brothel-red walls, Chinese porcelain, and animal-print barstools set the scene for an indulgent evening of sharp cocktails and decadent shared plates. The “Pommes Marilou”—crispy potato cubes topped with crème fraîche and bowfin caviar—has been the kitchen’s bestseller. The dish is an apt culinary mascot for the Maison de la Luz experience: It’s a little fancy but still approachable.

“There’s a playful, exuberant quality to Maison de la Luz [after all],” Sawdon adds. “It doesn’t take itself too seriously but stays distinctly elegant, effusive, and warm.”

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