This Revived New Orleans Motel Has Some Serious Flair

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By Anna Squier
Built in 1957, an artful hideaway on an industrial stretch of Tulane Avenue in New Orleans has been remade into a modern-day retreat for the contemporary traveler.

What appears at first glance to be an unassuming, low-rise building is truly a visionary combination of modern and eclectic design. Adorned by a retro neon motel sign and an asymmetrical awning, the restored exterior of The Drifter presents classic midcentury motel architecture. Transformed with the help of interior designer Nicole Cota Studio, the interior spaces present a tropical display of bright colors and textures, accented with the artwork of local artisans. Custom-made furniture, troweled concrete walls, and Oaxaca tiles fill the 20 guest rooms and suites. Spaces respect the original era while injecting New Orleans flair and contemporary culture into the mix. 

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This Revived New Orleans Motel Has Some Serious Flair - Photo 1 of 11 -
The reworked, modernist building maintains reference to the 1950s era. 

The reworked, modernist building maintains reference to the 1950s era. 

The lobby and reception space is adorned with retro pendant lighting, tropical wall graphics,  and colorful furnishings. 

The lobby and reception space is adorned with retro pendant lighting, tropical wall graphics,  and colorful furnishings. 

A built-in banquette with light green, tweed patterning is paired with tropical, wooden folding chairs. 

A built-in banquette with light green, tweed patterning is paired with tropical, wooden folding chairs. 

A mix of contemporary and 1950's furnishings fill the lobby bar space, accented with greenery and globe pendant lights. A floral art installation, crafted from Ralph Lauren shirts, stretches across the wall.

A mix of contemporary and 1950's furnishings fill the lobby bar space, accented with greenery and globe pendant lights. A floral art installation, crafted from Ralph Lauren shirts, stretches across the wall.

The lobby bar serves a mix up of frozen cocktails, Japanese beer and sake, and locally-grown wine. 

The lobby bar serves a mix up of frozen cocktails, Japanese beer and sake, and locally-grown wine. 

The double queen guest room's minimalist interiors include a custom, double-platform bed, cement tile floors, and troweled concrete walls. 

The double queen guest room's minimalist interiors include a custom, double-platform bed, cement tile floors, and troweled concrete walls. 

The bunk room, located on the first floor, has direct pool access.  Custom built-in bunk beds provide the perfect accommodations for a group of friends. 

The bunk room, located on the first floor, has direct pool access.  Custom built-in bunk beds provide the perfect accommodations for a group of friends. 

The Drifter is the first hotel by trio Jayson Seidman, Zach Kupperman, and Alex Ramirez, who are pushing the concept of a hotel brand that focuses on building dynamic, culturally-enhanced experiences for modern-day drifters. In addition to revamping the finishes and building a complete package of curated accessories, the redesign created spaces for cultural programming, such as art shows and live music. A tropical courtyard and pool, adorned with a cantilevered disco ball, provides a contemporary setting for such programs. A hotel bar, which is accessible from both the pool side courtyard and interior lobby bar, offers a diverse array of cocktails inspired by the eclectic decor. 

A cantilevered disco ball hangs over the courtyard pool, while guest room balconies overlook the shared communal space.  What was previously a concrete parking lot has been transformed into a lush, tropical courtyard. 

A cantilevered disco ball hangs over the courtyard pool, while guest room balconies overlook the shared communal space.  What was previously a concrete parking lot has been transformed into a lush, tropical courtyard. 

Vertical wood screens and white metal guards decorate the second floor balcony. 

Vertical wood screens and white metal guards decorate the second floor balcony. 

Playful, unique, and creatively curated, The Drifter is a beacon of light in the Mid-City, New Orleans, neighborhood, celebrating arts and culture in a communal setting for local and global travelers.