Tour New Orleans's Hippest New Boutique Hotel
New Orleans has no shortage of wonderful hotels and B&Bs to stay in, but while there are numbered of revered old Southern hotels (like Hotel Monteleone and Soniat House), and a few ultra-modern hospitality establishments (like The W), there isn’t much in the way of the hip boutique hotels we see in other cities… until now. This February, New Orleans’s Garden District will welcome the new Henry Howard Hotel to the neighborhood. An 1860s mansion transformed into a boutique hotel with stunning historic architecture and cool contemporary flair, it’s just the modern-day NOLA hotel we’ve been waiting for.
Named after famed New Orleans architect Henry Howard, the building has gorgeous galleries (NOLA speak for long, narrow rooms with high ceilings) with walk-through windows, Corinthian columns, 12-foot ceilings, and red pine floors. New York–based interior designer Lauren Mabry of Hunter Mabry Design re-envisioned the interiors, bringing in custom-designed canopy beds, vintage-inspired luggage racks, commissioned artwork by local artist Hayley Gaberlavage, and eclectic-chic Persian rugs. The result has Southern flair with contemporary cool. It’s a little bit like what our dream apartments would look like—if only we lived in a big Southern mansion. The hotel opens February 1, and it is available for bookings now. Rates start at $189/night.
We caught up with Mabry to hear a little bit about how this stunning space came together. Read on for our interview.
MyDomaine: Can you tell me a little bit about the history of this hotel and building?
Lauren Mabry: The hotel was built by a famed New Orleans architect, Henry Howard, in the 1860s. The architect designed over 300 buildings during his life, and 71 still remain, the Henry Howard Hotel being one of them.
The building was originally built as an Italianate double townhouse with Greek Revival features for the two daughters of Edward Conery, a steamship owner.
MD: What original architectural elements did you maintain?
LM: Everything we could! The hotel is such a beautiful building with truly impressive bones. We didn’t want to change any of the original architecture, only enhance it. We’ve maintained the original footprint of the building, keeping walls, fireplaces, crown moldings, and the 12-foot-tall ceilings intact. The balconies on all three sides have been rebuilt to resemble the original plan Henry Howard designed. Elements such as the original column capitals that were on the front of the home have been repurposed as coffee table bases and are on display throughout the property. There is even a room showcasing the original kitchen fireplace that would have been used in the late 1800s.
MD: How did you modernize the space?
LM: Giving this 1860s building a clean and contemporary flair was the fun part. We highlighted the ceiling height and the naturally grand stature of the hotel. We utilized a soft neutral color palette for the room interiors, with splashes of color, pattern and texture in the upholstery, custom wallpaper, rugs, and room accessories. Each room has its own unique personality, blending traditional antiques with handmade custom designs, like our sculptural beds from New Orleans local ironworker Doorman Designs, to create clean modern lines (while the canopy style maintains the traditional feel). We use vintage chairs but reupholstered them with more modern fabrics to create a sleek look.
MD: What was your inspiration for the interiors of the hotel?
LM: The inspiration for the interiors of the hotel was drawn from the incredible shell of the building and the vibrant and intoxicating city and neighborhood that it lives in. We wanted guests to feel the flavor of New Orleans around every corner they turn while at the same time having the opportunity to appreciate the rich history both the city and the building have to offer. We accomplished this by incorporating brass instruments and tongue and cheek artwork, historic maps, and a custom toile that has playful imagery and iconic figures including Henry Howard himself.
MD: How would you describe the aesthetic?
LM: A sophisticated yet sassy twist on New Orleans classic.
MD: What were your resources for furniture and décor—did you shop locally, antiques shops, any consumer brands?
LM: All of the above! We tried very hard to keep it local to New Orleans. There are so many great local artists that we were able to partner with; it helped make our efforts to stay local possible. We commissioned Hayley Gaberlavage to paint artwork inspired by each of the hotel team for the guest rooms. We worked with Doorman Design, a talented furniture-maker that created our custom iron beds, branded with Hs for Henry Howard on the corners. We custom designed a New Orleans toile wallpaper that has our hotel, the steamboat, and the St. Charles streetcar throughout—it’s on display behind the beds in each guest room. Mystic Blue Signs, a local sign shop, created all of the metal room numbers and hand-painted branding on the front doors.
MD: How did you discover NOLA artist Hayley Gaberlavage?
LM: We followed Hayley on Instagram and love the way she captures mystery and expression simultaneously. Her artwork utilizes traditional portrait compositions with a touch of whimsy. A common reaction was to find yourself smiling and engaging with her art. She finds beauty in places others overlook.
MD: What’s your personal favorite design element or feature of the hotel?
LM: The combination of the sculptural brass instruments that are worn and loved, mounted on top of a custom spin on traditional toile wallpaper, all framed with the modern steel canopy bed. This combo is exactly the juxtaposition that embodies both the hotel as well as New Orleans as a whole.
MD: Fill in the blank: The Henry Howard Hotel is perfect for __________.
LM: The traveler that’s equally as excited about the charm of New Orleans as they are about the nightlife and music scene. It is truly the place to stay to experience everything the vibrant city has to offer.
Have you ever been to NOLA? Where did you stay? Share below.