The Ace Hotel is not for your average traveler. You won’t find a lobby with floral décor or a stuffy concierge. You won’t find basic toiletry samples in the bathroom. You won’t find rooms that all look alike or restaurants with basic diner food. The Ace Hotel is “everything you need, and nothing you don’t,” as a hotel guest coined at the opening of the first hotel.
Seattle friends and founders Alex Calderwood, Wade Weigel, and Doug Herrick wanted to create a travelers’ paradise “that felt less like a hotel and more like staying at a cool friend’s apartment,” Calderwood says, “—something that felt like home, but sort of elevated and adventurous. I used to promote parties and shows in Seattle in the 90s and wanted to have a cheap, cool place for friends to stay—like some of the inexpensive hotels we’d found in Europe—and it grew from there. We love to travel, and so we see the hotel as a platform to celebrate culture—music, art, literature, design, and everything else we like.”
So the Ace Hotel was born in Seattle, Washington, and then later expanded to include hotels in Portland, Oregon, and Palm Springs, California. The first Ace Hotel in the East recently opened in New York.
“Mostly we build hotels in places we’d want to live and work because we end up spending a lot of time there,” says Calderwood. “We wanted to create a hotel that was both affordable to our friends—artists or not—and that appealed to them aesthetically. Most of our creative friends are interested in a more authentic, handmade aesthetic, with everything you could need or want but nothing excessive.”
Young creatives have flocked to this hotel chain to be inspired while on their travels and to have a comfortable place to hang out with friends and new acquaintances. But how can a hotel with young travelers constantly coming and going keep a fresh and innovative atmosphere?
When you stay at an Ace Hotel, no two rooms and no two hotels are alike. “We wanted each hotel to reflect its place and the people there,” says Calderwood. “We wanted to respect the city’s history while creating something new. There is a sort of Ace DNA that runs through all of our hotels—repurposed materials, local art, and a friendly and low-key vibe—but they all have a very different feel. For instance, the Ace in New York is more urban and studious, while the Palm Springs hotel has more of an earthy, hippie feel.”
The unique décor isn’t contained only within the rooms. The basic concept that inspires the style of the Ace Hotel is to take a historic, practically run-down building, keep its charm, and mirror it with clean lines to cultivate the creativity of its customers. This is shown throughout every room, including the lobby, restaurants, and recreational areas, from the minute you walk in the doors.
The Ace Hotel sets itself apart beyond just the surface. The service and attention to detail also contribute to the vision of a practical yet pleasing space. As a young traveler, you want to get the most out of your stay and experience new people and places. The Ace Hotel’s service caters specifically to that type of culture. In Portland and Palm Springs, the hotels offer free bicycles for their guests to discover the cities the same way the locals do. The founders really believe in helping their guests experience life through traveling.
Because these hotels cater to young adults, they keep things budget friendly, with rooms ranging between $95 and $250 per night. Ace Hotels offer from 28 to 120 rooms, depending on which hotel you’re visiting.
Calderwood leaves one piece of advice for young travelers: “Try to find something unexpected or off-the-map—and if you leave a mark, make sure it’s a good one.”
The Ace Hotel Cross Country
The Ace Hotel began as a small dream in Seattle, Washington. The founders then expanded their idea to other locations where they like to travel, creating a bicoastal chain. The different hotels reflect the unique characteristics of each location.
Located in the middle of Belltown, this hotel is within walking distance of Seattle’s major attractions such as the Space Needle and Pike Place Market. The hotel has only 28 rooms, but it offers free wi-fi and is pet friendly.
Nestled near the Pearl District and the famous Powell’s Books, this Ace Hotel has 79 rooms that emphasize the eco-friendly culture of the area. The hotel offers room service, free wi-fi, and free rental bikes so you can travel around the city like a local. Guests can also take advantage of the vintage photo booth located in the lobby.
This spa & resort version of the Ace Hotel is in the middle of sun-kissed Palm Springs. The hotel has 180 rooms with outdoor spa services and a laidback atmosphere. The communal fireplaces located around the grounds encourage partying and socializing. There is often a live band playing, making this hotel a great DJ scene.
The New York location is in a 12-story building in the heart of Midtown near the Theater District. This location is the biggest with 260 rooms and offers the following luxury amenities: room service, free wi-fi, and a gym. The rooms are also pet friendly.
Photos courtesy of The Ace Hotel, Jeremy Pelley, D. L. Tompson & Jon Johnson, and John Mark Sorum