The Ace Hotels are the kind of place you’d stay if you’re in a band, own a fancy art gallery or staying with your well-off parents when they’re in town. Remember that sketch in Portlandia about the Deuce Hotel, where the staff hand out turntables and typewriters to all their guests? Funnily enough, that was a parody of the Ace Hotel.
Originally opened in 1999 in Seattle, Ace Hotels now have locations in Palm Springs, New Orleans, Portland, New York, Downtown LA, Pittsburgh, Panama City and most recently, London.
For a super trendy up-market hotel in London, the Ace Hotel just had to be located in Shoreditch, the quintessential hipster suburb. But the area hasn’t been completely gentrified just yet – the hotel’s surrounding area does include a pop-up food truck park, Boxpark shopping precinct, art galleries and the prestigious Shoreditch House members-only club, but it’s also right next to a seedy strip club and the curry house hagglers of Brick Lane.
As an upmarket hotel, the Ace delivers on first class amenities, with concierge and room service and all that. The main difference is that the people who work there have coloured hair and tattoos and look like when they’re not at work, they’re in very cool bands or sitting on a milk crate somewhere. But the pricing isn’t milk crate level – it’s more like bespoke artisanal on-trend luxury (i.e. it’s a little pricey).
Walking into the Ace Hotel is an experience in London living at it’s very best. It’s the coolest hotel I’ve ever been in. I mean, I’ve been intimidated by other hotel guests before – mainly because I’m worried they can probably tell when I’m at home I live in a share house. But never like this – these people are infinitely cooler than I am, and most definitely have better music taste than me.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the long table in the lobby was an Apple Genius Bar with the amount of hip young creatives tapping away at their Macbook Pros. There’s a juice bar, a photobooth, a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop featuring the finest London roasted coffee beans, as well as the gallery bar and restaurant which is a partnership with trendy London restaurant Bistrotheque.
The front desk
The front desk displays a copy of Jamie XX’s In Colour on vinyl and advises guests they can purchase a copy in the adjoining record store… Of course there’s an adjoining record store.
The fancy rooms all have their own record players, ideal for the kinds of travellers who focus their attention on off-the-beaten-track record stores or historical vinyl rather than historical monuments. Or maybe just because they are the kind of people who think it’s necessary to have that sort of thing around “for their creative process”. Still cool but.
You can also purchase a variety of other items from front desk, ranging from Ace Hotels branded clothing, guitar picks to records and a fixed gear bike… Of course you can buy a fixed gear bike.
With DIY furnishings, antique furniture, artwork and fancy hip skincare, no detail has been left untouched. The basic hotel rooms have their own guitars and digital radios with a variety of stations, including Ace Hotel’s own digital radio station… Of course they have their own digital radio station.
Staying here increases your likelihood of bumping into a famous person exponentially. My first night at the Ace hotel bar, we end up sitting next to Public Enemy and I get to experience watching Flava Flav roll through the hotel lobby at 1am on a hoverboard – seriously. When I stayed at the Ace, it was home to the Moog Soundlab, an artists residency sponsored by the legendary synth label Moog. Very cool.
The final touches
In keeping with the place’s rock’n’roll aesthetic, Ace Hotel is the only hotel I can recall staying in where the default check-out time is midday – and they were very non-plussed when I lazily ask for an extension ’til 1pm.
It’s a confusing mixture of feelings being here; while I’m laughing at the ridiculousness of how “cool” this place is, I’m also aware that this is the best place I have ever been and that I will probably never be able to stay in a “mainstream” hotel again. Bummer.
(Images: Ace Hotels)
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Rose Callaghan is a comedian and occasional freelance writer, who has put pen to paper for triple j mag, Beat, The Vine, Broadsheet, MTV.com.au and probably other people, as well as writing national top 40 commercial radio scripts and bios for Australian pop stars.You may have also heard her on ABC, triple j, RRR, or Nova. She likes to troll people on twitter @operation_rosie.