The Ace Hotel New York:  were we cool enough to dig it?

Going to New York for the first time and staying at the famous Ace Hotel, how cool is that? Pretty cool it seems: I had heard so many things about this hotel and was curious how the place would suit me. The Ace Hotel is supposed to be a temple of coolness filled with urban vibes and tons of hipness. And, apart from all the hipster-hysteria, the Ace Hotel has also a story to tell.

Okay, hipster. Moi? Not really. Let’s say I love to observe the cool and the hip but I don’t particularly feel the need to follow along. I guess I’m just a bit too lazy to keep up with all the hip stuff. And for the record: just being who you are, no matter what’s supposed to be hip, sounds already pretty cool to me.

So the big question was: could the Ace Hotel be too hip for us?

The location

Ace Hotel is extremely central located in Midtown Manhattan (on Broadway and 29the Street) , a neighborhood known as NoMad (north of Madison Square Park) with just about everything right at its doorstep. Subways are near (5 minutes ride to Times Square), Madison Square Garden is a 10 minute walk away, the Empire State Building is close by… the perfect location is you’re planning to do some hardcore exploring of Manhattan.

The hotel

Ace Hotel New York is situated in the former Hotel Breslin (a 1904 building) and has been thoroughly renovated without loosing its charm. In fact, a lot of the vintage and retro feeling was added by Roman and Williams, the celeb interior architects who redesigned the place. Many of the rooms come with vintage turntables (and a good collection of vinyl), a guitar placed in the corner, a shiny Smeg fridge, a retro bathroom, wool blankets on the bed and a big flat-screen TV.

Bonus: the shampoo, conditioner and body wash you’ll find in your bathroom are all from Rudy’s Barbershop, located next to the hotel and part of the Ace. I’ve pushed Jempi to have his hair cut and beard trimmed and they’ve done a great job. Exit the wolverine look, hello hipster! 🙂 Tip: ask for Hubert and check out his beard-oil HG Beard Oil, the best!

There’s a room for every budget: from bunk (cheap) to super deluxe suites (expensive). All the rooms look different, thanks to the graphic art prints on the wall. The overall feel is very urban, maybe a bit dark (even the bathrobes are grey, very industrial) but always very comfortable.

Connected to the hotel is the Coffee Shop Stumptown (always good for some serious espresso) and the Breslin (a gastropub  by Michelin-starred British chef April Bloomfield), perfect if you’re feeling hungry and/or thirsty and you’ve already emptied the inside of the Smeg in your room.

The lobby is a cool hang designed like an antique library with big comfy couches and of-course: open wifi. No wonder it’s always filled with hipsters, writers and young professionals, looking for a relaxed place while working their laptops. At night the Lobby Bar is also a fantastic place to start (or end) your night on the town.

The story behind the  Ace Hotel

Ace hotel is a chain of hotels: you’ll find an Ace in Portland, New York, Palm Springs, Panama City, Panama, London, Seattle and Los Angeles. The hotels are mainly a concept of Alex Calderwood, a creative and restless young man who was involved in fashion, record labels, art, design, vintage clothing, advertising and dance clubs. In 1993 he had already started Rudy’s, a Seattle chain of retro barber shops. Later – with partners Wade Weigel and Doug Herrick – he opened the first Ace Hotel in 1999 in Seattle. The hotel offered budget shared-bathrooms next to luxury suites, a place for both the budget and the luxury traveler (hence the name: in a deck of cards the ace is both high and low. Ace was also Calderwood’s childhood nickname).

Alex Calderwood had a great talent to spot trends, a man with a vision who never stopped working (and playing). In November 2013 he was found dead in his room in the Ace Hotel in London, just six weeks after it opened. He was only 47, his death was unexpected, the cause was unknown. You can read up on Alex Calderwood here and here.

The verdict

While hipsters are raving on about the ‘cool’ vibe of the hotel, we mainly found it down-to-earth, fun, friendly and laid back.

The staff is fantastic: super friendly and helpful, they make you feel right at home. And of-course: they all look super cool with their beards, tattoos and exactly the right jeans and sneakers. Although we found the room a bit dark it was really big and very comfortable. Would we stay at the Ace Hotel New York again? Yes. Turns out everyone is cool enough for Ace Hotel.

Tip: if you’re planning to stay at Ace, ask for one of the higher rooms facing 29the street: these have great views of the Empire State Building.


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