Ace Is Wild

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I tend to fit in wherever I go.  This is because my usual spots consist of home, church, school, and our neighborhood McDonald's with the grimey indoor playground my kids can't get enough of.  So, when my husband and I recently jet-setted for the weekend to Los Angeles, we decided to make the most of it and stay at the swankiest downtown hotel recommended to us.

The ACE Hotel opened in downtown LA (#dtla) just a few months ago, and it is no doubt the diamond in the rough on Broadway.  This part of the city has changed a lot in the last several months, and it is still in the early stages of its hipster re-gentrification.

While Umami Burger and the historic-Rialto-theatre-turned-Urban-Outfitters clearly designate this as a hip-among-hip part of town, Broadway is still home to many suffering souls huddled on the sidewalk and dilapidated office spaces waiting to be turned into the next Anthropologie or two-story H&M (it's really only a matter of time).  This is to say, LA wouldn't be LA if it didn't redefine hipster by keeping its dirty roots and taking its own sweet time to develop the next trend.

Headquartered in Portland, ACE also has hotels in New York, Palm Springs, Seattle, Panama, and London.  It seems to have found the perfect location to manifest itself in the historical United Artists building downtown LA.  With a vibrant marquee and ornate street front greeting it's guests, there's no question you're about to enter the Narnia of being too-cool-for-school when you walk in.  

As the guy dressed in flannel plaid and skinny jeans introduced himself as our bellhop, I could immediately tell I was not nearly hip enough for this place.  (Which only enticed me all the more.)  I get it, guy with the bolo and blonde mustache, and I am just going to play the part and let you think I don't have two kids back home who are probably watching Mickey Mouse and eating Tinkerbell fruit snacks right now.  

The black and white glam-deco lobby was sporadically spotted with little whimsical sketches.  There was a fat kitty in a bow-tie drawn over the elevator, a chubby bear falling with a cup of coffee between doorways, and little palm trees dotting the landscape up to the high ceiling above.  

This dose of silliness amidst the spectacular architecture was a sure sign to take a deep breath and enjoy my stay; nothing was to be taken too seriously in a place where hand-drawn animals were spying down.

The room we stayed in was pleasant, with the best part being the exquisite attention to detail.  I'm a total sucker for attention to details.  The tv screen said "Welcome to your room, Emily Pardy" and even the tiniest of items had some kind of ACE font/logo scripted on it.  

The colors were calm and consistent.  The lines of the room were minimal and clean.  The entire room was a crisp combination of industrial (concrete exposed floors and ceilings), post-modern/euro (blocks of muted color with sufficient, well-utilized space, but compact at best) and art deco (gold hardware, black lacquer, splashes of ornate detail hidden in the historic leftovers here and there).

The bed was cozy, the robes were divine (like giant, body-sweatshirts), and the service was fantastic.  While the ACE details were simply impeccable (hey, I worked just long enough in marketing to fall in love with typography and consistent branding) it felt polished, not pushy.

The feel of the experience was upscale, with just enough pretentious notes to make me feel like I got my money's worth.  And, while I didn't get to try the food at their slick eatery, LA Chapter located just off the lobby, I did partake in the Stumptown coffee (a nod to their Portland roots) offered at the adjacent bar. 

The rooftop bar, however, was a few steps beyond our cool factor.  While the view from the top was the stuff Hollywood dreams are made of (Hello, Skyline. Hello, hot tub.  Hello, that one B-celebrity that we recognize but can't quite place) the scene was still a bit loud and crowded for my taste.  

Thirty-something singles who can't remember they're not in their twenties anymore filled the rooftop long after their bedtime (Go home and watch Fallon, people).  But, I'd imagine the daytime being far more inviting with such a primo location (I didn't get a chance to see it in the sunshine).

Let's be honest.  We don't get out much.  This hotel is definitely in the top five of amazing hotels Josh and I have ever stayed at (the Roosevelt, another iconic place to stay in Hollywood, also ranking high among the list) and it was a refreshing getaway to play ultra-cool hipsters for the weekend.  All in all, it was totally worth it.  And, it was a great reminder to spend moments with the love of my life sharing experiences that usually only pre-kid-having-with-extra-money-spending-yuppies tend to splurge on.  

It's okay to reach beyond your cool factor now and then!  And while we felt like parents-in-the-wild who got loose from our cage of homeostasis, it was invigorating to stay somewhere we didn't totally fit in.  

If you're considering a weekend away, I say just Go for it, and take a chance on an experience you didn't think you'd ever share as a couple.  Travel beyond your norms and hold each other's hands like teenagers again.  Book a room with your spouse somewhere, and just get OUT for a night or two.  You might find yourselves sipping espresso, staring at silly animal sketches, totally giggling at how you are geeking out on the bellhop's bolo.  

It might be wild, and I think that's just aces.

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