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Monday, 1 October 2012

The Ace Of Hotels...


You might have heard that I spent a week in New York City with work recently. Not a bad week as work weeks go I have to say ... I was there with HTC for its Windows Phone 8 announcement and my job was to host media from around the world taking them on a design tour of the city. More on that later as I just have to share with you the names and work of some of the super talented and diverse artists/designers I had the pleasure of meeting. 

So to set the scene, I stayed at the 12-story boutique Ace Hotel housed within the 1904 historic building, formerly the Hotel Breslin. The neat thing about this hotel is that the ranging rooms have a price tag to suit everyone - a 'bunk' standard, a 'deluxe' option and a spenny 'loft' apartment for the flash! My first impression was good on all accounts. The lobby boasts high ceilings and low lighting (my fav - can't stand top lights) and the theme is faux-library. Lots of bookcases, anglepoise desk lights, tartan high back wing chairs, beautiful mosaic floor tiles and wood-panelled walls....






The hotel projects the image that guests will feel like they're staying over at their friends New York pad - comfortable, friendly and relaxed. Interestingly I learnt that that's just what happens behind some closed doors. In fact 40 to be precise scattered around the hotel. Behind these doors you won't find a chic hotel room but somebody's home, belongings and all! In 2007 a development company paid a lot of money for a long-term lease of the single room occupancy Hotel Breslin and a few tenants decided to stay put, apparently quite common in NYC. It transpires holdover tenants can't be evicted without a court order so legally no one can be forced out. All permanent residents have a separate entrance, lobby and service lift but can use the hotel services e.g. restaurants, coffee shop etc. Apparently residents could take a buyout of $150,000 but why would then when supposedly some are paying as little as $500 a month to live in the heart of the city AND within a fancy hotel! Some people might turn their nose up at the situation/information but I find it fascinating and think it only adds to the charm of the hotel. Anyway moving on...


This hotel does more than just put permanent and non-permanent people up for the night, it literally has everything - here's a quick rundown... 


Great food - tick!
On my first night I headed extremely jet lagged and blurry eyed to the Michelin-starred restaurant based within the hotel, The Breslin. April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman of The Spotted Pig (apparently a big deal in NYC) are the minds behind The Breslin. Here I scoffed the best god damn burger of my life ... chargrilled lamb burger with feta, cumin mayo and thrice cooked chips - the combination of the cumin and feta flavours, the tender medium-rare lamb and the crunchy yet fluffy chips are simply mind blowing! That washed down with 'The Garden Tonic' cocktail - Henrick's gin with cucumber, celery bitters and tonic = happy NYC camper! The interior of the restaurant designed by Roman & Williams is also worth a mention - 19th century inspired, there is dark mahogany wood everywhere paired with black and pea green lacquered walls - very masculine. The space is also littered with lots of animal d├ęcor, paintings and ornaments...





I didn't get to try the second restaurant in the hotel as i'm not an oyster fan, tut tut I know BUT if you are you have to try The John Dory Oyster Bar as i've heard it's the real deal. 



Out of this world coffee - tick!
Also home to Stumptown the most amazing gourmet coffee shop ever selling the most scrumptious coffee money can buy! Seriously I nearly died and went to heaven when I ordered a skinny latte and took my first sip. Unfortunately I wasn't the only one who thought this, so did every other New Yorker in the area ... every morning without fail there was a queue the size of Timbucktu and back snaking around the block. On several occasions I started to line up and then had to excuse myself because me and waiting in line just don't mix!



Another selling point is the in-shop counter where you can savour your coffee moment and watch the world rush by outside - Top Tip ... when you take your first sip, look up and you'll see a sight that can't fail to make you smile every morning - peeking above the average looking building right in front of you is no other than Mr.Empire State Building. Yes, Yes I did - I squealed like Carrie Bradshaw did when she first saw the Eiffel Tower in Paris! I thought i'd share the moment I first laid eyes on the handsome chap...



Funky interior design - tick!
To summarise my room was small but perfectly formed. Visualise Gossip Girl Dan Humphrey's Brooklyn loft and you're pretty much there. Each room is individualised with original artwork from local and international artists and is full of amazing little quirks...




Quirk 1 - salted Caramel welcome treats and a hand written postcard welcoming me to the hotel... 


Quirk 2 - your very own Smeg mini-bar fridge stacked to high heaven with goodies galore...





Quirk 3 - A 'You Look Good In That' slogan emblazed on each hanger in your open-wardrobe...





Quirk 4 - an amusing lone tile in the shower to brighten up each morning...


The hotel miniatures were non existent which I have to admit upset me somewhat. I will put my hands up ... I am one of THOSE ... I steal miniatures and I like it! But no such luck, all I got was a square black soap on a rope (the idea is no residue) and Rudy branded giant shampoo, conditioner and shower gel locked down so no nicking could be done. It was nice stuff but still not the point! My only complaint Ace ... Sort it! ASAP!



Location - tick!
There aren't many areas to develop surrounding 5th Avenue so when the Ace Hotel opened in 2009, cool hipster/creative types moved in and as a result it's now a sought after place to live. It is quite literally slap bang in the middle of the NYC action in an area called NoMad (North of Madison Square Park). A hop, skip and a jump from Times Square, of which I hadn't checked out before so that was an added bonus... 



Added extras - tick!
In a mad rush? Feeling jet lag dead? Need a bangin' blowout for a night out with the likes of Vogue, GQ and Harper's Baazar? Not to worry - Rudy's Barbershop to the rescue to wash away all your NYC worries and have you looking fabulous in a flash! This retro barbers is part of the Ace Hotel and has been since July. Apparently to celebrate the opening, they offered all hotel guests free haircuts for an entire weekend - nice touch! I treated myself to a blow dry on the Monday evening ahead of meeting my press guests. I zipped in and 45 minutes later zipped out feeling shiny and new with bouncy big bangs! The service is second to none - quick, friendly and uber cool. I was a little worried when I looked outside onto the street and saw rain lashing down on the NYC pavements but fear not there was a bonnet protector waiting for me! My hairdresser popped in on and sent me on my way. Admittedly not a great look and if Vogue had seen me at that point in time I would have instantly died on the spot but thankfully just the bell boy spotted me before I whipped it off!





The hotel also boasts Lower East Side-based boutique Opening Ceremony, the most amazing one-stop shop. It specialises in travel essentials and luxury souvenirs for men and women stocking everything from midnight feast treats, to Kiehl's travel sets, to international magazines. The store also sells some seriously cool bits of clothing from a rail of Acne gorgeousness, wacky sunglasses and its own fashion line with Chloe Sevigny. 

On exiting the shop, I noticed a special exhibition which lined the walls leading to the hotel lobby. The exhibition consisted of limited edition archival prints from artwork produced for the Opening Ceremony book of which all proceeds go to benefit Broom Street Academy, a tuition-free public high school in SoHo for at-risk youth. The hotel prides itself on its relationships and collaborations with local artists, designers and independent businesses, the Opening Ceremony shop and curated exhibition being perfect examples of this.




A few last extras worth mentioning ... the hotel offers all guests free WiFi, now I know this doesn't sound fancy but you'd be surprised at how many good hotels worldwide don't offer this. Crazy I know. Lastly, the lobby even has its own black & white photo booth - how very retro!

That brings me to the end of my review. To summarise if you're looking for ace accommodation in an ace location with everything you could possibly desire, look no further...


Ace Hotel
20 West 29th Street
New York
NY 10001
(212) 679-2222

1 comment

  1. Everything about it screams luxurious. These are nothing like them cheap central london hotels. They are equal to the Chateaux in France.

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