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More than many other low-rise hotels in town, the Ace works to create a slick desert scene for guests who bring urban cool with them. The main pool is big, boozy, sun-baked, and buzzy—its other pool is for romance (or escaping poolside club events), broad and quiet. The windowless, dark bar, the Amigo Room, recalls a 1970s lounge even as it searches out the best locals microbrews to serve on its nearly two dozen taps, so you can feel both current and retro in the same sip. And its restaurant, King's Highway—feeling very much like the motel Denny's it once was—does excellent, if overpriced, Mexican-inflected Californian dishes and massive breakfast burritos that people know about across town. The property was once a Howard Johnson's but got a re-do by swish architects, who replaced ugly parking strips with tough desert plantings so the gated resort now encourages strolling, privacy, and evenings by the built-in fire pits. Rooms are HoJo small, but distinct—each has a shower (not a bath) and is done in an odd macramé-era mix of ropes and canvas, but include enough modernity (vinyl players or a guitar, MP3 streamers, glamorous coffee table books and 'zines) to pass the hip test. You don't pick the sprawling Ace for your family or to feel cloistered; you pick it for a good chance to meet other people and drink good booze without having to leave the premises. You won't see this one go far below $150 even on the discount sites because the owners like to preserve a mystique. The city's Buzz shuttle goes right past it, linking it for free to downtown.