Holy mother of God, this one’s a showstopper: a 19th century Catholic church, convent, rectory and schoolhouse turned into one of the South’s most talked-about hotel openings. The restoration, which wrapped in fall of 2018, took four years and was led by former journalist Nathalie Jordi and ASH NYC, the real-estate development and design firm behind the Siren Hotel in Detroit and the Dean Hotel in Providence, Rhode Island. Now, the quartet of historic buildings originally designed by preeminent Louisiana architect Henry Howard houses 71 one-of-a-kind rooms brimming with European antiques, religious tapestries and hand-painted tile showers. African, Cuban, French, Italian and Swedish influences can all be spotted. But the real Hail Mary? The crew pulled it off using scads of local talent. Deep in its bones, this hotel feels as New Orleans as it looks.
Though Hotel Peter & Paul is just minutes from the French Quarter, it’s light years removed from the debauchery of Bourbon Street. Nestled in the relaxed Marigny neighborhood, it’s strollable to pretty Crescent Park, the well-heeled antique shops of Royal Street, and the Backstreet Cultural Museum, where you can admire elaborate Mardi Gras Indian costumes. Come nightfall, venture farther afield to Tipitina’s, one of the city’s most iconic juke joints.
Room to Book
No. 207, the first room ASH NYC’s Will Cooper modeled: “It’s the perfect size with two huge windows, green draperies and giant canopy beds.” He also loves the rooms in the schoolhouse, where everything from the showers to the armoires is color-coded by floor (third is blue, fourth is red and so on). Rooms 201 and 202 earn shout outs for their marble bathtubs and floating canopy beds dressed in fine Italian linens.
Cooper’s vision was largely inspired by the interiors of 18th and 19th century Sweden. The walls in the former rectory were finished to look like a Gustavian castle, though you might miss the reference if you’re distracted by the Italianate marble fireplace and vintage rattan furnishings. Because gingham was a massively popular textile in Sweden, Cooper layered it with other disparate narratives. The color story, for example, was inspired by the hues of African, Italian and Russian icons from the 1300s forward.
Good to Know
The James Beard–nominated team behind NOLA wine bar Bacchanal helms the Elysian Bar here. Order a Parisian Mai Tai or loaded Vieux Carré, followed by a baked sunchoke custard and other inventive small plates. Whatever you do, save room for a treat from Sundae Best, the small-batch ice cream parlor in the converted convent. N’awlins-inspired flavors include Honey & Zapps and Peanut Crackle & Jam.
Q+A with Will Cooper
Partner and Chief Creative Officer, ASH NYC
Were there any overdone New Orleans design tropes you avoided?
The fleur-de-lis, definitely. It’s blacklisted. [laughs] Also, music. As important as it is to New Orleans, we didn’t want to put musical instruments on our walls; it’s too on the nose.
Is that why so many of the furnishings were made locally?
Yeah, definitely. It was important that real people who actually live here work on the hotel. The guests’ beds were made by a metal worker who lives five minutes away. The armoires and credenzas were made two blocks away. Even the drapery was done in a workroom five blocks away.
What’s your favorite area here?
I love the third floor lounge of the school, because there are four guest rooms hidden behind that huge mural by Ann Marie Auricchio, an amazing artist from the Marigny.
What are your travel essentials?
Noise-canceling headphones and something to read. Flying is the only time I don’t get inundated with emails, questions or worldly problems. It’s nice to unplug.