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Hotel Ace Hotel 3 star
20 West 29th Street New York, United States of America -
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Amy Adejokun Section editor

Owner Alex Calderwood said he wasn't interested in being trendy, he just wanted to create an instant classic. Well, he has achieved both, whether he likes it or not. One of the most original, innovative and inspired hotels you'll see anywhere, let alone in New York, the Ace is a masterpiece from top to bottom that will attract backpackers, groups of friends and couples alike. Every aspect, and we mean every aspect, has been meticulously mulled over from the name of the hotel itself (see 'To Know' section) to the iron board covers' wording. Effortlessness and a carefree attitude seem to be the dominating characteristics of the hotel as can be witnessed from the borderline too-cool-for-school porters and the auto flush loos in the public WC. Indeed, as the caption on the stairs leading back to the lobby from the aforementioned services reassures, "Everything is going to be alright."

  • Family
  • International Standard
  • Well located
  • Charm
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    Location 7.86 /10

    The Ace is located on West 29th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, with Broadway cutting diagonally across the street. The district is Nomad, just north of the Flatiron District, with Madison Square Park and Gardens close by, as well as Times Square at the end of Broadway and Penn Station a few blocks away. To put it simply, it's right in the mix of things in Midtown Manhattan. There are three metro stations within walking distance of the hotel: 23rd, 28th and 33rd Streets. JFK airport is 18 miles away, La Guardia 9 miles and Newark 17.

    Accommodation 9.70 /10

    One of the Ace's finest qualities is its non-pretentiousness. It could easily choose to be stuck up and restrictive given the number of well-heeled yuppies who call it their second home, but this is not the Ace's style. In that spirit, the hotel is accessible to all kinds of traveller from backpackers to those wanting a slice of New York apartment living. The bunk rooms are of an honourable size and feature all the quirks of the larger rooms such as the fly case which acts as a stand for the flatscreen television, the open closet made from bent plumbing pipes and the artwork (in the example we saw a mural of a Mamiya C330 dominates one wall). There is even room for a desk with water and coffee and iron and ironing board comes as standard as does the hairdryer which comes in its own canvas bag.

    The sizeable bathroom also matches up to those in the rest of the hotel with bathtub and Rudy's brand toiletries and Malin and Goetz soap as well as the same pipe bends implanted in the wall which act as hooks. The first conventional room is the Standard Full which is slightly larger than the bunk room and has a queen bed, fully stocked Smeg fridge and locally sourced snacks, custom made Pendleton blankets, music hall clock radio and Wings & Horns bathrobes. We can find more peculiarities in the bathroom (similar to that of the bunk) in the form of the caption heading the mirror which reads "Love is meant to make us glad"; a mantra whose first word could easily be replaces with the hotel's name. The remaining four categories are named 'small', 'medium', 'large' and 'loft'. Each one gets slightly bigger and has a different artwork by one of the hotel's many contributing artists. The amenities rest the same however from 'medium' up you'll find turntables in the room and a collection of vinyls to spin at your leisure and views onto either Broadway or 29th street. The extra space in the rooms is filled with various furniture, including some vintage pieces. The pièce de resistance of the hotel though is its magnificent military/industrial style loft. This huge open plan studio centres around what was almost probably a tailor's cutting table surrounded by six circa 1960s designers' chairs. Fitting like a glove into the alcove, from where the Empire State Building looms down, is a semi circular couch in front of which is a coffee table and animal skin rug. Other unique features of the room include an army munitions box, a textile transportation box (home to the iron), a factory shelving unit complete with old wooden reels, Fostoria lamps and to top it all off a custom made Gibson guitar. Now/not now magnets for the door let the maids know whether they are to make up the room. The bathroom, which is separated from the room by double doors, has a standalone bath and shower.

    Overview 9.20 /10

    The building's exterior cannot possibly betray the marvels that lay the other side of the entrance, namely one of the most happening hotel lobbies in New York. To the right as you walk in is the reception desk and its approach which contains on one side a cabinet displaying hotel memorabilia and other desirable gift items and on the other side a glass unit full of stuffed birds. The main lobby is essentially divided into three sections, roughly according to the wonderful white columns dominating the space. To the foreground you have a seating area featuring tartan-upholstered armchairs and industrial looking tables. Running through the centre of the room a communal table has been put at the disposal of guests only. Then, just the other side of a display of stuffed badgers, are two u-shaped arrangements of red couches with animal skin throws straddling both units, with further seating at the back of the lobby directly under a purposefully frayed Stars and Stripes. The wooden paneling with incorporated book shelves, together with the Chesterfield sofas and subdued lighting, lend a warm, hunting lodge feel to the back of the hall. Around the edges of the room, aside from more seating are books on all subjects, diagrams of the bone structure of various creatures and even a photo booth of yesteryear (which still functions).

    The real focal point of the hotel, indeed the neighbourhood, the lobby brings together all sorts from locals just wanting a coffee (see Stumptown Coffee Roasters in the 'Food and Drink' section) to students studying for their finals in ordinary differential equations, from young advertising executives to jewellery designers working on their latest collection. So many reasons for frequenting the place (the coffee, the atmosphere, people watching, business meetings) but one thing above all which unites them; the MacBook. You'd be forgiven for thinking that admission to the lobby was dependent on your ability to pull out the portable computer from Apple. The rest of the hotel's public spaces are almost by the by as if you are not in your room you'll want to be in the lobby. Having said that the messages posted on the walls facing the lifts as well as those on the lifts themselves bring a smile to the face and make the Ace what it is?as do the staff, who are horizontal in the laidbackness, but attentive (and rather attractive) all the same.

    Food and drink 8.20 /10

    April Bloomfield, the Brummie responsible for introducing the gastro-pub to New York with the Michelin-starred Spotted Pig over in the West Village, opened up the Breslin Bar and Dining Room just off the hotel's lobby weeks before we visited the Ace. And by all accounts it's already as notorious. In a backdrop which pays a tenuous homage to the British pub, guests, locals and food tourists alike can chow down all day long from breakfast (pastries, fried peanut and banana sandwich, eggs how you want), past brunch (pumpkin pancakes, full English, chargrilled lamb burger), on to lunch (onion and bone marrow soup, skate and potato terrine roasted poussin) and ending with dinner (terrine boards, salt cod brandade, stuffed pigs foot). The food is not exactly light, so if you're watching your waist line, hold your nose and put it down as a day off.

    Also off the lobby and with an entrance on West 29th street is Stumptown Coffee Roasters. This small, unassuming shop, a branch of the Portland-based company, sells speciality coffees from all over the planet and is one reason why Ace's lobby is so busy. Coffee is sold to drink on site or take away as well as in brown paper bags with information labels on its origin, elevation and flavour. Rumour has it that despite having been open for only 3 months when we were there, this franchise was the highest grossing speciality coffee shop in North America, an astounding achievement. The hotel has a lobby bar too in the back left hand corner of the lobby which serves its own exclusive 'Aberdeen Cask Ale'.

    To know

    Where to begin? Everywhere you turn at The Ace there is a story to be told. Indeed you can be sure that stories are being created constantly in the hive of activity that is the hotel's lobby (see 'Hotel Overview' section). The hotel is housed in a building dating from 1904 which has been in its time both the Breslin Hotel and a rent-controlled residential block (some of the occupants from the latter's era refused to move and still reside in the hotel). The interior of the hotel was designed (in collaboration with the owners) by Roman & Williams, the same people who brought you the uber-cool Standard hotel over in the Meatpacking District, with exceptional vision and taste. The same goes too for the hotel's staff who sport a number of labels including Converse and Dr. Marten's (shoes), Coto (ties), L. Gambert (shirts), Levi's (jeans) and Spiewak (peacoats). In fact the doormen and porters are so stylishly sapped that we mistook them for guests (one of whom in turn then mistook the author of this article for?yes, a member of staff!). And the story behind the name 'Ace' I hear you ask? Well, in cards, the ace can either be low or high, just in the same way as the rooms at the Ace hotel can be low or high end (see 'Accommodation' section). Clever, huh?


    • Car park
    • Handicap access
    • Restaurant
    • Internet access
    • Air conditioning
    • Sports equipment


    • Animals allowed
    • Non-smoking rooms


    • Location
    • Interior design
    • Range of rooms
    • Lobby area
    • Breslin Bar and Dining Room
    • Stumptoxn Coffe Roasters


    Traveller Reviews

    • Overall Score -/10
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