See inside The Troubadour, a new hotel in downtown New Orleans

Posted on: December 19 2016

By Jennifer Larino, | The Times-Picayune

The Troubadour, the latest hotel to pop up in the Central Business District, opened last Wednesday (Dec. 14) inside the renovated former Rault Center on Gravier Street. The 184-room boutique hotel includes meeting space and Petit Lion, a new restaurant from Philip Lopez, the chef behind Root and Square Root.

On Monday morning, the warm lighting and gold accents of the lobby contrasted with the cold and gray sky outside. A Christmas tree sat next to a floating staircase leading to a quiet lounge on the second floor.

Kristi Atrigues, the hotel's director of sales and marketing, pointed out an interactive art display on one lobby wall that looked like the fret board of an oversized guitar. Visitors will be able to play the metal "strings" of the piece with a specialized pick kept at the front desk, she said.

"It's fun, eclectic, inviting," Artgues said. "We want to get everyone to come to New Orleans and visit us -- the business traveler, the tourist. We want people in the neighborhood to come by and see us. Really it's an invitation to all."

Slumber Corners NOLA, led by developer Lisa Blank, purchased the 17-story former office building in February 2015 and led a two-year renovation to convert it into a boutique hotel under the Joie de Vivre brand. The brand, a part of Commune Hotels + Resorts, also has hotels in Los Angeles, Miami Beach, Chicago and New York City.

Rooms at The Troubadour start at $198 a night.

In addition to the 64-seat ground level restaurant, Lopez will run the hotel's second-floor cocktail lounge and Monkey Board, a rooftop bar set to open in January 2017. Bartender T. Cole Newton, the owner of Twelve Mile Limit, is overseeing the hotel's cocktail programming.

Long-time New Orleanians may remember the Rault Center as the site of a deadly 1972 fire that engulfed the upper floors of the building.

Many locals watched on TV news as five women trapped in a beauty salon on the 16th floor attempted a jump to safety on the roof of a neighboring building. Four of the women died. Two men died in an elevator.

The fire led to a state law requiring high-rise buildings to install sprinkler systems.

The Troubadour is the latest development to re-envision that section of the Central Business District.

A team led by Green Coast Enterprises and nonprofit Crescent City Community Land Trust and ERG Enterprises is completing a $38 million renovation of the historic Pythian building at 234 Loyola Avenue. The plan is to convert the building into a blend of affordable housing and retail and commercial space.

The former Oil & Gas Building at 1100 Tulane Ave. is also being renovated into a Canopy by Hilton hotel. The building most recently housed Club Ampersand and was once slated for an affordable housing development.