CHANGE UNIVERSE: Magazine Jewels
New York | HotelSeptember 10, 2009

The Ace

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After eye inaugurating their first three locations (Portland, Seattle, and Palm Springs) from a far, I  was psyched to learn ACE Hotel was finally opening an east coast locale in New York City. I got the chance to check out the newly opened location in Manhattan a few weeks back, click through for impressions and as always a hefty dose of pics.

Located on 20 West 29th St, the new Manhattan ACE Hotel is a sight to behold from the inside, but easy to miss on the outside.  The entrance is  dark and reminiscent of a men’s club Hemingway may have been part of, the beginning of a decidedly masculine vibed hotel.

There’s a bar, reading areas, bookshelves lined with antique books, vintage steel furniture, even a stuffed Badger.

Digging thing that springs to mind — nor is the area around 29th Street and Broadway. So the lobby of the recently opened Ace Hotel came as a pleasant surprise. The latest effort by the Northwest-based proprietors of hip yet reasonably priced lodgings (and its first on the East Coast) was designed by Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch of the New York firm Roman and Williams, who turned a decrepit landmark 1904 building that formerly housed the Hotel Breslin into a haven of too-cool-for-school bohemian chic.

The 18-foot-high lobby space, with its original mosaic tile floor and carved plaster ceiling, embodies what Standefer calls “the anti-boutique hotel concept.” She and Alesch were looking for that sense of familiarity common to old hotels in Europe, where you feel as if you’re sitting in someone’s living room. A comfortable clutter of found objects — “New furniture wouldn’t be familiar enough,” Standefer said — fills the space, from stuffed birds to old laboratory tables to bachelor-pad sectional seating and plaid wing chairs.

Atop an old bookcase, a tray holds a raft of mercury glass flasks; a large blackboard at the back of the room broadcasts the cocktails du jour in the bar area. There are magazines and newspapers for browsing, and the occasional appearance of one of the old hotel’s residents (it used to be an SRO, and some people refused to move) gives the room a down-to-earth, communal vibe. And the wall behind the staircase is home to an installation by the artist Michael Anderson, who copied his collection of 20 years’ worth of graffiti tags and turned them into a graphic black-and-white collage.

Roman and Williams (who did the redesign of the Royalton as well as the interiors of the Standard Hotel and its restaurant, the Standard Grill) are currently at work on two other spaces in the Ace — a restaurant called the Breslin, which will be run by the Spotted Pig’s Ken Friedman and April Bloomfield, and a branch of Portland’s Stumptown Coffee (for which the designers chose a 1960s Milanese look). When both open in the fall, this still-scruffy neighborhood won’t know what hit it.

On one of their deluxe rooms, I was floored with the attention to detail. King size bed draped with a Pendleton blanket, desk with leather blotter, pencil and Weber sharpener (old school), beautiful ACE hotel stationary, and even a record player with a half dozen vinyls to choose from.

On top of a small school desk, the survival kit guide written in old typing machine fonts, starts like this:" Welcome to the Ace Hotel New York. I keep this short so you have more time to experience the hotel and the city. You're in a historic landmark building that originally opened in 1904 as the Hotel Bresling.

It has undergone many changes in its long life. We have tried to preserve as many features as possible, like the ornate coffered ceilings  ... Be adventurous take the subway it will take you down to Soho, Union Square or Chinatown..... If something doesn't work properly tell us we know how to fix it  We are happy you are here... Thank you for sleeping with us Cheers .. all of us of Ace Hotel New York"

Even the bathroom was finished in subway tile, and the shower had a fantastic shower head (a much overlooked detail). Did I mention the old school ice box even stocked the High Life?

With every corner and detail uncovered, I found myself nodding thinking, “that would look great in my dream loft apt.” Of course, that was the purpose behind the hotel designers who have turned this early 19th century building into hotel  you could have only designed in your imagination.

ACE Hotel NYC continues to drop the exclusives on their staff. Kinda makes you want to work there just to get access to the collaboration goods. “The staff at the Portland Ace have worn Jack Purcell shoes since its debut, and for NYC, Ace is partnering with Converse on special Chuck Taylor All Star shoes. An American icon, Converse is indelibly linked with the independent spirit and attitude of countless musicians, artists and athletes. Simple, understated, synonymous with rock & roll and coveted by all walks of life, we think Converse is a perfect fit for Ace.”

It’s hard to describe cool with words, but when you stay at the ACE Hotel in Manhattan you just know. The pics should do the rest of the talking.

Joelle's Tips

Photo credits: Graffiti mural: Photo: Douglas Lyle Thompson / Room : courtesy of Ace Hotel / Collage and source : T magazine- ' Study Hall - The Ace Hotel Lobby"  by Pilar Viladas

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