Motel in New Orleans given contemporary overhaul

by | Dec 21, 2017 | Design

The opportunity to give new life to the past is always a welcome one for designer. Interior designers and architects alike are always looking for clues from a building’s history to inform its modern character, and the US motel from the middle of the 20th century is perhaps one of the most iconic hospitality typologies, and also one with the most potential for conversion into a contemporary design masterpiece. TOPHOTELNEWS has previously reported on other motels that have been given a new lease of life, and a new motel restoration in New Orleans is following this trend. The Drifter Hotel, operated by Design Hotels and designed by Nicole Cota Studio, this 20-room boutique hotel has kept the original motel building, complete with its central pool area, external walkways and iconic entrance way, complete with the original “Motel” sign. Originally built in 1956, over 60 years later, The Drifter Hotel takes up residence in this piece of New Orleans roadside history.

An exercise in modernized nostalgia

“The Drifter reveals itself as an exercise in modernized nostalgia, both in terms of design and concept. With a name inspired by the iconoclastic Beat Generation of postwar America, the property is a playful respite from New Orleans’ expected offerings, shining a light on a newly hip side of the city by acting as a melting pot for the local and global “drifters” who end up there,” reads the hotel’s mission statement. Declaring the hotel “not a culture, but a subculture”, The Drifter Hotel’s designer has taken cues from mid-century design in terms of the colour palette, which is awash with neutrals and pastels, as well as furnishings, which are classic but give a nod to iconic design pieces of the era. Steel tubed armchairs sit alongside newly upholstered crushed velvet or brushed leather couches, and the new cafe area has a tiled and plywood panelled bar, with timber boards also installed on the ceiling to give a real mid-century feel. Some of the bedrooms have been fitted with luxurious bunk beds, making the new motel ideal for families or group travelers. The treatement of the bedrooms is similar to that of the common areas, with more plywood panelling and floor tiles from Mexico that add a splash of colour to the otherwise subdued sleeping quarters, whose white bed linen and brushed cement walls make for a comfortable and relaxing space.

Instagram-friendly surroundings

Located in a neighbourhood close to the famous French Quarter, The Drifter Hotel appeals to hipsters, who will go for the Instagram-friendly surroundings and also for the rotation of food trucks that serve up delicious coffee, pastries and Mexican food. The hotel also has a pool membership for those wanting to escape the sweltering summer heat, as well as a program of events that will be sure to draw a crowd.

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