The Ace has won awards for its decision to rehab an old 1920s office building rather than pull it down and start anew—in L.A., this kind of thinking is revolutionary. Fortunately in this case, it also meant the hotel beautifully restored the adjoining United Artists Theatre, an opulent treasure built in 1929 by Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin. You can see it in one of the many performance events scheduled there (check out the original murals depicting both the film pioneers). There wasn't as much to restore in the hotel's interior, so the Ace went with a post-industrial exposed-concrete aesthetic—polished and neatly arranged, not dusty or chilly—that does much to heighten your sense of being a part of reclaiming urban decay. On the roof its a tight little pool and a tight little bar deck overlooking L.A. Deco skyline and a vintage JESUS SAVES neon sign relocated to rest within guests' irony-hungry sightlines, and in the lobby they've squeezed in a brasserie-style restaurant (L.A. Chapter), a coffee bar, and a juice bar which all appeal to foodieism and name-dropping among culinary types.
Don't you worry about not being cool enough, because the Ace is a "lifestyle brand," which means rather than alienate you with exclusivity, it wants to sell you its version of coolness through a range of branded apparel and amenities, which it does in the lobby. Your money is welcome here, and when you go, you'll rightfully feel like you were a part of the best of the downtown L.A. scene. Its situation on the not-yet-hot end of lower Broadway, where you'll need to walk 10 minutes or so to get to the Metro (or the Staples Center or the Convention Center), means it's not the business traveler's first choice, so your chances of scoring a bargain are better than at many other hip hotels in the area. The target customer, who savors slumming and vinyl records, but who isn't yet ready to let go of consumerism altogether, won't mind the walk.
- Jason Cochran