It’s a bold hotel that tries to be the coolest kid in town in a city that created the coolest music in the world but nine years ago International House set out to out-hip everyone by turning an old Beaux-Arts style building in the Central Business District into an $11 million reflection of the great city of New Orleans through a thoroughly modern prism. A recent top to bottom spiffing-up courtesy of LM Pagano, designer of choice for Nicolas Cage and Johnny Depp, has ­only increased the cool quotient.

The lobby tidily encompasses the hotel’s principles of quirky chic, locally-crafted and regionally-inspired art and furniture and environmentally sustainable materials and practices. Under a 23’ high ceiling, guests are greeted by a green baby grand piano which was made from recycled materials. Walls are dressed in a collection of evocative black and white photographs of local Jazz legends taken by local photographer Herman Leonard whose work is sprinkled throughout the hotel. And you can’t miss the bordello-red upholstery and enormous handmade silk-swathed chandeliers by Louisiana native Guy Martin.

The hotel’s candlelit bar, Loa (named after voodoo deities) eases off the lobby and is romantic, sexy and inviting—which makes it even more confounding that it closes so early (the bartender was packing up at 9pm one evening). Luckily, a cocktail is never far away in New Orleans and, as if the hotel knows that guests have come to the city to play, the hallways on each floor are always dimly lit which adds to the feeling that time really doesn’t matter in this town.

Once in your room, fresh wildflowers, a gently twirling ceiling fan and a CD compilation of local jazz greats in your in-room sound system help you unwind before melting into a luxuriously appointed bed. For serious post-partying revitalization, the hotel offers a surprisingly comprehensive third floor workout room which boasts two Schwinn Spinning bikes in addition to the usual suspects.

Two blocks from the French Quarter, the hotel’s 117 light-filled rooms include two 800 square foot mega-penthouses. If you can afford the splurge, book Penthouse 6 which is a stunner with heart pine floors (the wood was reclaimed from a warehouse), two Plasma TVs and an open rain shower plus a landscaped terrace with mesmerizing views of a languid bend in the Mississippi River.

By successfully navigating that line between “cool” and “too-cool-for-you” International House attracts the jet set, the star set (Billy Bob Thornton, Duran Duran, actor Hill Harper is an investor) and lucky travelers—all of whom leave the hotel just a bit cooler than they were when they checked in.

Rates: $189 to $749

International House
221 Camp Street
New Orleans, Louisiana70130
Phone: (504) 553-9550

www.ihhotel.com

 

Our review of this boutique hotel was originally published by iTraveliShop

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