Commissioned in 1928, this nine-story Art Deco property housed the Max Barnett Furniture Company, one of the earliest local importers of Scandinavian furniture, until the 1970s. After an extensive renovation, the Ace Hotel New Orleans opened there in March 2016. The hotel has a bustling first-floor restaurant and lobby bar, a rooftop pool with views of the New Orleans skyline and an adjoining outpost of Stumptown Coffee Roasters.
The hotel is in the city’s Lafayette Square Historic District, but many locals also consider it to be part of the broader warehouse district. The French Quarter is roughly a 10-minute walk away. As I walked toward the hotel for the first time, a streetcar on the St. Charles line passed by on Carondelet Street. For a newbie visitor to New Orleans, this was a nice welcome.
There are 234 rooms, including the two-level Ace suite. A friend and I stayed in a double room. Emblematic of the building’s industrial past, the room had high ceilings and oversized windows that let in plenty of natural sunlight, with wooden shutters. Each room is equipped with a large retro-inspired Smeg refrigerator, free Wi-Fi, and a wall-mounted TV. I was impressed with the full-service minibar, which featured a shaker and cocktail jigger, fresh olives and drinks such as Olmeca Altos tequila and Jameson Irish Whiskey. We didn’t have guitars, turntables and vinyl records in our room, but some of the larger rooms and suites had these quirky amenities.
A marble sink was tucked behind a tall curtain near the front door. The main bathroom, opened by a sliding wooden door, was lined with regal-looking black-and-white floor tile. Hair care products and body wash were from Rudy’s Barbershop, a hair and body products brand that began in Seattle.
Alto, the rooftop garden, offers a pleasant space to relax by the pool and enjoy the bar, which offered seasonal cocktails, beer, wine and a limited food menu. The pool was a nice touch, but since the rooftop is open to both guests and nonguests, it can get very crowded (even when we stopped by at noon on a Sunday). The garden is open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Three Keys, a cozy, wood-paneled, in-house performance hall on the ground floor, has free live music and other programming, such as trivia nights, on most evenings. The 24-hour gym was spacious and well equipped.
The hotel restaurant, Josephine Estelle, served an array of Italian fare infused with Southern influences, with offerings that included tuna crudo and soft shell crab. The weekend brunch was excellent. I had a chicken biscuit with Calabrian honey and bacon, and my friend had quiche with goat cheese and garlic. Our server was very friendly and attentive. Room service, which offered selections from the restaurant, was available around the clock, though menu items were more limited during the overnight hours.