Let There Be Delight!
Hotel Saint Vincent brings achingly cool vibes to the Lower Garden District and the fashionable set rejoices
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, I met a prosecutor-turned-designer and hotelier named Liz Lambert. The time was 2004, the land was Austin, Texas and I was a baby reporter at the Austin American-Statesman newspaper working as the design columnist. Ever since becoming familiar with her work and interviewing her on several occasions, I have admittedly worshipped at the Design Church of Lambert, so yes, I’m biased. In my starstruck eyes, everything Lambert touches or breaths on is gold. Her attention to detail and penchant for creating chic spaces with atmosphere to spare is unmatched. Lambert is the Queen of Cool and if she reads this, I present my very uncool, gushing fangirl ramblings of admiration with absolutely no shame. Hi, Liz! (I’m laughing nervously at this.)
By the early 2000s, Lambert — a master at adaptive reuse — had repurposed, restored, designed and otherwise made all the rage a mere three properties, the Hotel San José (along with the celebrated modern design firm Lake | Flato and where you must go have a drink in the courtyard) and Jo’s Coffee in Austin, as well as the Thunderbird Hotel in Marfa, Texas. By the time I moved away from Austin in 2010, Lambert was responsible for the impossibly luxe Hotel Saint Cecilia and a second Jo’s in Austin, El Cosmico, a yurt and Airstream “lodging community” in Marfa, Texas, Hotel Havana in San Antonio, Texas (where you must go for a drink in the glass conservatory bar, Ocho) and went on to create many other cooler-than-cool properties through her then management company Bunkhouse Group. In 2019, she founded the Austin-based architecture and interior design group Lambert McGuire Design, along with the former Austin-based, but now New Orleans-based chef, businessman and arbiter of cool Larry McGuire. It is a sister company to McGuire Moorman Lambert Hospitality, the group responsible for the soon-to-be celebrated Hotel Saint Vincent. Actually, the in-crowd is already celebrating it (Lambert’s friend, musician St. Vincent performed at the star-studded launch party and her posse of other well-known pals, including actors Connie Britton and Jennifer Coolidge, peppered her Instagram feed in party perfect lewks). The attention is justified, as the Hotel Saint Vincent is stunning.
Built in 1861, the brick-clad Lower Garden District behemoth was originally Saint Vincent’s Infant Asylum. It was founded by celebrated Irish immigrant, bakery owner and philanthropist Margaret Haughery, whose story is fascinating enough for its own blog post. The design team kept as much of the original architecture intact as possible, with modern upgrades, paint, lighting (some from Bevelo) and other midcentury and Art Deco decorative details highlighting the lush spaces. Each of the 75 guest rooms (many of which are refreshingly ADA compliant), the courtyard, Saltillo swimming pool, event space, two bars (one open the public and one clubby affair for guests only), San Lorenzo coastal Italian restaurant and French-Vietnamese-style Elizabeth Street Café and bakery (a second location of the popular Austin eatery), as well as a mini-iteration of the Austin boutique ByGeorge look like something ripped straight out of the pages of your favorite architecture, interior design and travel magazines.
(Old School, New Orleans purists will likely not be as happy about any of this as I am and, I’m not saying the Austin invasion is afoot, but I’m also not, not saying it. Please don’t send me hate emails. Thank you.)
As expected, no detail is left unturned. Vintage phones rest atop stylish bedside tables. Bathrooms are tricked out in boldly patterned, colorful-bordering-on-psychedelic Voutsa wallpaper. Winkbed mattresses are swathed in 300-thread-count Sferra Sateen sheets (in a pattern that matches that wallpaper in the bathroom) and are perched atop custom bedframes.
People: It. Is. Outrageously. Posh. And, as always, from Lambert and her cohorts, achingly cool. So much so, that I feel actual heartache since touring it with my colleagues and over the fact that I can’t live there.
Please enjoy photos of the hotel while I go weep with longing at a table in the Paradise Bar.
*All photos by Douglas Friedman