Check-in: We played it the Portland way for our trip, taking public transportation everywhere and acting too cool for school. Alas, that attitude is ideal for The Ace, as there's no valet parking, no one to take your bags to your room, and not much effort over explaining the property to you at the front desk. Yes, we know how to use a hotel, so we didn't ask for the full spiel from the receptionist, a man who completely fit the stereotypical image of a handsome Portland hipster. He checked us in, handed us our keys and that was that.
Room Reaction: Up to the third floor, where all the doors look the same and are nearly upholstered with some army green tarp material, we found our room: 309. Inside, we were at first surprised at how spacious a cheapie single room could be at The Ace; we thought we were in for a twin bed up against a wall, and instead here was a full with pride of place in the center of the room. On each of its sides, a reading lamp and sidetable (one of which was nothing more than a vintage, overturned crate).
Although there weren't any eye-catching art pieces in our room, one whole wall was plastered with yellowed pages from what looked like an ornithological reference book; a nice touch that didn't overwhelm, but added interest that the view sure didn't (because our window looked at a cement block wall!).
There was no desk to speak of, and the shelf along the sink for towels and toiletries was perhaps no deeper than 5 inches, but it was sufficient for a short stay. There was an open closet, a suitcase rack, the Wings + Horns sweatshirt-material robes made for The Ace Hotels, a mini-bar assortment of goodies like Stroopwafel cookies, and a slew of Ace demographic-appropriate magazines.
As this was a single room with shared bath, 309 only boasted a small corner sink and medicine cabinet with mirror. We headed down the hall with our keys to unlock the shared bathroom, and found it spic-and-span and completely white in a sterile way. This was appreciated because we were already having flashbacks to weird college dorm days and didn't need a stray hair or condom wrapper to put us over the edge. Luckily, all went well and we even had a pleasant shower or two in there. Never was it occupied when we wanted in.
WiFi Connect: Free throughout the hotel, but not so fast in our rear room, especially during prime evening hours. At 5am in the morning though? Stellar!
Amenity Madness: It's The Ace and the room is $95, so there won't be any chocolate-dipped strawberries here. What we did find Malin + Goetz conditioner and a mini rope soap at our sink, a container of toiletry necessities like cotton swabs and cotton balls, and a cute vintage-y postcard depicting the hotel.
Room service is available, and you've got two tempting choices: a solid list of fresh, artisanal coffees from Stumptown or a pretty varied menu from the hotel's restaurant, Clyde Common. Just do note that if you're paying $3 for a coffee downstairs at Stumptown, it's more like $4.25 through room service, plus delivery and tip. Just put some clothes on and walk downstairs already.
Perhaps the best, mostly unknown amenity is the mezzanine above the lobby. Head up the stairs one level to an open workroom, with a long army green banquette, a vintage table complete with a Mac desktop, and a wingback chair and small variety of magazines. Do not miss the large antique library closet, as you're welcome to drop or read notes in the many drawers.
The lobby mezzanine work area
What We Liked: When you awake at The Ace, the whole smells pleasantly of fresh-roasting Stumptown coffee, since the coffeeshop is downstairs just off the lobby. It was heaven for our two early wake-up calls, and our immediate energy to get down and drink some almost made up for the afternoon lethargy brought on by the depressingly itty-bitty TV and lack of view.
Additionally, we're suckers for Malin + Goetz products, and designs of the Ace Hotels in general. It just fits us. The mezzanine workroom with the Mac desktop was also a huge plus for when we began to feel cooped up in the room.
What We Didn't Like: The worst part about dealing with a shared restroom is the guesswork of first thing in the morning. How long are we going to have to hold our pee while someone else showers? Luckily, the restroom was always open. Disappointments included the weak WiFi and the fact that try as we did at different hours for two nights, we could never get a seat at the Clyde Common's bar. Do beware of the small in-room TVs, possible complete lack of a view, and that the beds are rather hard.
Bottom Line: Minor issues are overshadowed by the excellent Pearl District location, hopping atmosphere and cool design. What's more is that it's a perfectly comfortable place for a solo traveler, the amenities are great for the price, and you'r guaranteed to be surrounded by hot creative types of both the tourist and local variety.
[Photos: Cynthia Drescher for HotelChatter]