Photos by Stephen Kent Johnson

Luxurious layers transform a former Crescent City government building into a romantic retreat

Forget everything you thought you knew about hotels. The new Maison de la Luz on Carondelet Street in New Orleans—branded as a “guesthouse” rather than a hotel—takes a sumptuous new approach to making overnight visitors feel pampered. With a moody and eclectic style that seems ripped right from a Wes Anderson movie, the property’s public spaces are as cozy as its private realms.

“We dreamed up a woman of the world who has traveled and immersed herself in numerous cultures, collecting pieces which help define her vision along the way,” explains Los Angeles-based interior designer Pamela Shamshiri of the concept behind the aesthetic. “Upon return from her travels, she opens up her guesthouse, a space filled with precious personal findings.”

Among the exotic finds in this chic retreat, guests will also find pieces with a closer-to-home provenance, including prominently featured artworks by a Baton Rouge native. On the following pages, step inside this sanctuary and discover design ideas that could add a touch of whimsical luxury to any interior space.


Designer Pamela Shamshiri embraced the building’s historic roots as the 1908-built City Hall Annex, retaining the ornate original staircase and complementing it with gold-fringed velvet chairs. Striped wallpaper, marble wall panels, and a restored checkered marble floor come together to make a strong case for mixing patterns.


A moody blue background and Deco-inspired gilded accents add an air of intrigue at the concierge desk, where guests receive their silk-tasseled keys.


An earthy vintage vibe permeates the private living room, accessible only by Maison de la Luz guests. A veritable rainbow of velvet was used for the seating here, but somehow the mélange of colors all just feels right.


Baton Rouge native Clare Crespo created the framed nautical-inspired snake knot artworks that flank the grandfather clock in the foyer. A collection of large shells—including three attached to the clock itself—plus a pair of painted oars continue the maritime theme without feeling too beachy.


This must be what it would feel like to live inside a ginger jar. The breakfast room fully embraces one of our favorite Southern design schemes—classic blue and white—with a wallpaper featuring underwater south Louisiana swamp plants and a trompe l’oeil awning overhead. In the room’s center, a table and chairs in contrasting hues give the whole design unexpected depth.


This secret salon that seats only 12 guests connects the hotel to its craft cocktail bar, Bar Marilou. Guests order drinks through a window hidden behind a painting.


The only part of the hotel that’s open to the public is Bar Marilou, which takes full advantage of its setting in the building’s former law library by stocking unusual titles for guests to peruse while drinking in the “more is more” atmosphere. Shamshiri bathed every surface in the persimmon paint color, from ceiling to walls to bookshelves, and threw in wall-to-wall “tiger-lightning bolt” carpet for good measure.


The scene is more serene in the private quarters, where pale walls, floors and linens soothe the senses. Art by Louisiana creators is featured in each room; here, works by William Lemon and Rebecca Rebouché are set off by detailed millwork, and a glass box-enclosed curiosity by Clare Crespo sits on the bedside table.


Mushroom-colored draperies extend to the ceiling in the living area of this grand studio suite. The patterned velvet sofa feels like a vintage find. “Nearly all of the furniture, lighting and rugs were custom made for the hotel,” says Shamshiri.