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Inside The Ace Hotel NYC :: Funky Grandpa

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  Site Where: 20 West 29th Street [map], New York, ny, United States, 10001
May 20, 2009 at 4:56 PM | by | ()

At long last, after far too many opening date delays and general bellyaching, we slept with The Ace NYC. There were ups and there were downs, and we ate a lot of croissants. We know many have been displaced by the continued construction and permit drama here, but no longer as the hotel has a full house this week. So without further ado, we present all the nitty-gritty bits of our night at The Ace:

After walking through what is perhaps our least favorite neighborhood in New York, where the streets are lined with "designer perfume" dealers and men are randomly camped out on the sidewalk keeping watch over the police vans cruising the area, arriving at The Ace is like stepping into an oasis of womb-y darkness far from the bustle of Broadway.

We rolled up to reception, a dark wood desk manned by nattily-dressed staff, and noted that to our immediate right was a long apothecary cabinet displaying the various Ace items available for purchase, not to mention the selection behind reception as well. Luckily we arrived just before 5pm, when a rush of other arrivals flooded the reception area and the lobby. After being briefed about the breakfast situation (see Amenities below) and handed our key, we headed to our room: a "Deluxe King" on the 5th floor.

But our room introduction twas not to be quite yet; our room key didn't work and we returned downstairs only to encounter some familiar faces in the form of local press who were are most likely being comped in return for coverage. We paid for our stay fair and square.

Room Reaction
With a working room key in hand, we entered room 507 and were immediately embraced again by the darkness; this hotel with its small windows and black walls seemingly shuts out the sunlight. The exception is early morning, when a shaft of bright sun sneaks in through the window shutters and drives across our eyelids.

In our king room at the end of the hallway, with a view down onto Broadway, we found the now-notorious stocked Smeg refrigerator, shelves with extra cups and mugs, our large bed with somewhat-scratchy Pendleton blanket, more shelves and a safe attached to the made-of-pipe clothing rack, a creaky vintage table with three chairs, a small flatscreen TV on an old chest, a retro loveseat that sits very near the floor, and the aforementioned single window with shutters. Even all the lights, including in the bathroom, have dimmer options to ease the many hangovers which we're sure will occur here.

Nonetheless, this is like your cool grandpa's basement apartment, with a natty loveseat he refuses to give up and a round table for drinking with his friends.

The bathroom, just off of the kitchen/Smeg nook, was quite thin but not surprisingly so, since we understand that this used to be an SRO building. It boasts of a wide sink with soap-on-a-rope, a standard bathtub and shower with brass fixtures (although our shower dial was practically falling apart), a toilet with the very international options for a "half flush" or "full flush," a sliver window to air the place out, and a toilet paper dispenser far too close to the toilet—you have to sit sideways on the seat to avoid it.

Making up for the loose shower knob was the presence of the grey sweatshirt-material, boxer-style robes, in which we practically lived until check-out the next morning. The dispenser Rudy's Barbershop shampoo, conditioner and body wash was also a nice highlight, although we miss bringing home hotel toiletry booty.

Internet Connect
It is absolutely free to registered guests, and can be used throughout the hotel by memorizing your roaming code (although we never had to enter it again while surfing the 'net from the lobby). For this, Ace, we both applaud and thank you.

Internet isn't the only free bonus at The Ace; until their planned Stumptown coffee roasters and The Breslin restaurant open, a small continental breakfast of Stumptown coffee, tea, orange juice, and croissants are served in on the 4th floor in a hotel room converted to a communal breakfast room. We got croissant flakiness all over copies of the IHT, amNY, Frankfurter Allgemeine, and the Nikkei.

Within each room, amenities include the usual hairdryer, iron and ironing board, an "Ace Survival Guide" with list of local takeout restaurants, stationary including lined music sheets (staff paper), an electric kettle for making hot water (no coffee packs here), and a ridiculously tempting Smeg or minibar.

Although we saw plenty of turntables, guitars and original art in the preview pictures of The Ace, our room contained none of these things. This is too bad, since we were truly excited with the thought of opening the door to an art surprise or the promise of old-timey music. We did however have two giant black walls at which to stare.

Public Spaces
If you caught our exclusive lobby video tour earlier, you'll already have a pretty great sense of the entrance and the feel of this space. Plaid wingback chairs mixed with low grey couches, cracked leather loveseats and faux fur (we hope) throws are located nearer to reception, while a long study table divides the space and reserves the back half as the lobby bar, done up in with deep scarlet couches and more leather.

Above the room, the letter "A" is perched, underneath which you can find the hotel's photo booth, churning out indie portraits at $5 a pop (and it takes credit cards). There are also doors in the lobby to lead into the future restaurant and shop and cafe, but they remain closed with the windows papered-up.

One other curious feature is something called the "computer lab," nooks that appear in hallways on just about every other floor. In them is a table for two and chairs; perhaps computers are coming to these?

What We Liked
For a New York hotel room, which sits about in the middle of the types on offer at The Ace, the room's space is excellent. Free breakfast and internet is something we didn't overlook, and it lightened our mood very much despite the darkness. Unique touches like the boxer robe, the Smeg, the staff paper for composing music, and a very chic laundry bag rounded out our favorite design details. It is also worthwhile to note that despite our location only five floors up from Broadway, and having the whole hotel booked up, the room was surprisingly quiet.

What We Didn't Like
In case you haven't heard this enough yet, it's dark. Forget taking any great pictures in here without utilizing your flash, which gives it that dorm room sheen. It also would be nice to include original art in all of the guest rooms, as this was part of the hotel hype.

Bottom Line
For $199, this cannot be beat. Granted, after soft opening they will raise rates to $349 and up (except for the bunk bed rooms), but getting in now means enjoying something so new and so unique, while fearing not for your wallet.

If we are to judge from the people already checking in (and out) of The Ace, this will be become a hot base for design-sensitive Europeans; we shared breakfast with Brits and Germans in town for the ICFF (International Contemporary Furniture Fair). There were also some Jamaican DJs hanging out in the lobby, who were just as in love with the laundry bags as we were since they tried to make off with them.

Perhaps the hotel guest that would most enjoy this Ace is the person who is so over "design hotels" and "boutique hotels," yet isn't willing to sacrifice originality—oh yes, and of course the occasional funky grandpa. You can be sure that we'll be watching The Ace grow into its big-boy pants over the next few months, with the impending opening of its restaurant, coffee shop and boutique, and then we'll see who loves it most. Hint: Probably not New Yorkers.

To view all of the pictures from our stay at The Ace NYC, check out the Flickr gallery!

Archived Comments:

OWE YOUR GODS: Wiki Nails it too! (pasted below)

Mid-night, poured from a violently torn-apart tiny astro-pack left hours ago atop an elongated slab desk, fronting that room's glossy painted black door, we tossed back handfuls of Ace's pricey spicy toasted almonds.

Glazed over on arrival, we had zonked out on an oh-so-soft mattress.

Now standing there, in that small dark room next to each other, we smiled satisfied, drilling in each other's rapacious rocker eyes, chewing fast and furious. S. on vocals and I would emerge from a fog on percussion tomorrow night, ran a thought; then, it started. Reflexively S. shot up her leather clad arm, razor-sharp Goth painted nails' desperately dipping below a liquid-tight black tee, savagely scratching her head's base, as my much tattooed arm darted overhead, jabbing wildly, too, at what had just BITTEN ME!

In a flash, our eyes re-affixed themselves upon one another, terror and shock burned mated to radical fear and rage: B_ _ B_GS, I shouted as she screamed. Down ACE's telltale black painted hall's corridor we raced, our heavy metal door self-slamming on our as_ _s. Eternity passed at Ace-in-the-hole's solo elevator; fingering our cell phones, agent Joe re-booked us, elsewhere!

"Ace Hotel New York occupies the former Hotel Breslin, a 1904 building in Midtown Manhattan. This location features a Rudy's barbershop on its ground floor, that chain's first east coast location, intriguingly, guests may come to enjoy the penetrating chanting coming from the basement mosque located directly across the street."

Funky Grandpa Was Removed by Force

Hum, those who care about humanity, you gotta think twice before booking a room at the ace hotel. If you care about the treatment toward elderly people you may want to book a night at one of the local Chelsea boutique Holiday Inns. It's just like ACE to use an 85 year old resident as the poster child demonstrating how they are "being nice" toward tenants (in a recent article for "The Moment, NY Times blog" - Study Hall | The Ace Hotel's Lobby).

Sunday, August 2nd, a 40 year resident (AKA Funky Grandpa) of the Breslin Hotel was teamed up by Ace Hotel security guards and escorted out of the lobby and told to never return.

What kind of a human being steals this tiny bit of joy from a man of this age? Who is he hurting by reading his morning paper.

I guess they got their plug for NY nostalgia and now he's got to go. Funky Grandpa was more "real" than anything in the lobby.