The 25 mins I spent with Arsalun Tafazoli at The newly renovated LaFayette Hotel confirmed my long-running suspicion: the guy is an art fanatic. He is the founder of Consortium Holdings, a brand that has become synonymous with no-expense-spared decor (Morning Glory, Born and Raised, Youngblood, plus 17 others in the city), and now the latest owner of one of North Park’s most storied pieces of real estate.
Tafazoli went big with a $31 million restoration headed by Brooklyn-based Post Company, marking the first time the Colonial-style property has undergone such a remodel since it was built by Larry Imig in 1946. The LaFayette re-opens July 11 for phase one, which includes Pool Bar, Lobby Bar, The Gutter, Beginners Diner, and Quixote. The remaining concepts (Le Horse, Lulu’s Jungle Room, The Mississippi Room) will open in phase two later this year.
Here is what you should know:
“This is once in a lifetime. We will never do something like this again,” Tafazoli says. “We utilized almost every medium of art. We have a very particular perspective on art and design and wanted to create something timeless but that fits through our lens. It is also about legacy, and I did not want to look back and wonder ‘what if.’”
Entering the property, a handful of marble steps separate you and the lobby, which serves as the property’s town square. Plush couches, checkered flooring, crystal chandeliers, brass fixtures, and a coffee kiosk serving pastries define the space and provide hints of the sexy but classy and timeless design elements you’ll spot carried throughout. Custom speakers designed by Devon Turnball will bump the melodic tunes curated by famed music producer Swizz Beatz (Alicia Keys’ husband).
Follow the rush of natural light and enter Lobby Bar, where hand-painted ceilings (courtesy of Brazilian-based artist Joāo Incerti) collide with iron lamps, marigold banquettes, and a cocktail menu brimming with spirit-forward classics. Lobby Bar provides you two exits leading to Pool Bar, the closest you’ll get to sipping aperitivos on the Amalfi Coast without needing a stamp in your passport. The maximalist Suze Suites border the pool, where funky zebra print, vibrant green cheetah pillows, and scalloped umbrellas juxtapose Victorian, Gothic, and Tudor detailing.
Enter Lobby Bar from Pool Bar and pivot right. You’ll see Beginners Diner, open 24/7 and serving iconic diner meals like corn beef hash, turkey clubs, steak & eggs, and sides of apple pie. “An incredible amount of research went into creating this,” Tafazoli tells me. “This is our strongest attempt at creating a historically accurate diner.”
You’ll need to head back to the town square near the front desk and down a carpet-lined and ambiently lit hallway to reach Quixote, an Oaxacan-inspired restaurant and Mezcalería. Tafazoli points right to the windows, which grant just a sliver of light permission to enter the space.
“Those are original stained glass windows we brought in,” he says before pointing to the pulpit-inspired bar. “And this is a salvaged church altar. Essentially, there’s an entire church we deconstructed and rebuilt in the space.” Quixote also features two nooks, one located up a small flight of stairs, the other tucked away in the back right corner. Both with be utilized for the sampling of mezcal, including other rare and unique spirits
The lighting will brighten tenfold as you’re leaving Quixote and entering The Gutter, found directly across the hall. The idea for the two-lane bowling alley comes from Henry Frick and his bowling alley at the base of the Frick Museum. The Gutter is elegantly woodsy and activated by pool tables, shuffleboard, and a circular bar with additional seating around the perimeter.
“Hotels are unique in that they encompass all of life’s rituals: you can eat, sleep, and dine here,” Tafazoli says before my tour concludes. “This thing will outlive us all, and I’m intrigued by how future generations will feel about what we’ve created. That’s what people do. They look back and examine the art from previous generations. I wonder what they will think of ours.”