Hotel Review: Ace Hotel – Midtown, New York City

It’s almost midnight as I arrive at the Ace Hotel, jumping out of a taxi, having flown into Newark Airport on the other side of the Hudson. I walk past someone taking a selfie with a man who I assume is famous; he is ushered into a car moments later (then again, with Uber, who knows these days). The Broadway inspired lights of the Ace Hotel’s entry beam onto me, as the Empire State Building towers behind me. It was difficult to escape the bleeding obvious at this point: I had arrived in New York City. And I liked it.

The view from my hotel room… by night and day…

The doorman opens the door for me as I lug my oversized bag into the hotel, and there’s an immediate buzz in the air. Dozens of people are in the lobby, likely well over a hundred, drink in hand, as a DJ plays nearby. The light is dimly lit and it feels nothing like any hotel I’ve ever walked into before. It feels like an upscale bar; which is essentially what it is. To my right, the check in for the hotel is clearly visible. A lovely woman checks me in and, as we’re just about to pass midnight, gives me a few late night dining options in the area. Which, naturally for NYC, is pretty much an endless list. I went for a meal in the nearby Korea Town – I’d be having more than enough typical American cuisine during the remainder of my stay. Also, it was one part of the city I’d never ventured to.

My room was located on the 9th floor, and opening the door I couldn’t help by feel my jaw hit the floor. With an imposing view of the Empire State Building out my window, this room was without question the biggest hotel room I’d ever stayed in in Manhattan. Advertised as a “medium room”, it most certainly is big enough to consider itself a studio apartment (and a big one for New York City at that). To your left, a giant, old style fridge fits filled with drinks. An acoustic guitar lays nearby, as does the open storage area. To your right, table and chairs, on which a radio is busy playing some music. Ahead of you, a flat screen TV lays on the wall next to the bathroom, which sits opposite your bed, crammed full of channels and a small pile of ready to stream movies. Just my luck, I find a channel with a live concert from one of my favourite bands, Alabama Shakes. Designed to look a little like a pull out sofa, the bed is a truly comfortable spread – and offers me a great sleep after my meal.

Venturing into the bathroom is where I first notice the attention to detail I’d go onto discover runs throughout the room and the entire hotel. Given the building was built in 1904 first as The Hotel Breslin, the aesthetic – minus the TV, perhaps – is very much going for a rustic period approach, as they attempt to preserve as much of the original features as possible. Letters are big and bold – often stencilled. Brick and steel is on display. The massive shower head lays overhead, with shampoo, conditioner and body wash in easily marked dispensers. It really is the little things that stand out at this hotel.

Back on the table in the main room, your hotel guidebook comes in the form of a survival guide that Wes Anderson would be proud of.

“Your left hand is what you know, your right hand is who you are.”The coat hangers, meanwhile, remind you that “You look good in that”. Well, thank you, I think I do too!

Beyond the room, and the bar and restaurant that sits in the lobby, are plenty of the typical hotel amenities you’d expect from any hotel. A gym lays in the basement, free wifi is included with your stay and works well throughout the hotel and there is laundry and dry cleaning services available. And ice machines – naturally. The 24 hour Walgreens nearby also ensures you’ll be able to grab anything you need, any time of the day – if the front desk is unable to help you out themselves.

With my stay limited to a night, I feel I didn’t get the chance to experience everything the hotel has to offer. The hotel has events almost every day, with DJs, comedy nights, film screenings, parties and live bands all on offer. The Breslin Bar and Dining Room, crated by owners of Michelin-starred restaurants, did look amazing (and they provide room service too!), as did the on site Oyster bar and sub shop! Sitting in the still dimmed lobby the next morning to do some work did little to capture the vibe that the place enjoyed the night before. Still, with similar lighting, and people enjoying their hangover coffees all around courtesy of Portland based Stumptown Coffee Roasters, there’s no question the buzz remains intact 24/7. I’ll just have to come back for more – and believe me I will.

Ace Hotel is one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed in – in New York or any other city. There’s a buzz to the place from the minute you enter, and you can’t help but feel it for your entire stay. The word “cool” comes to mind, for there is little else I feel articulates it, while at the same time is free of the pretentiousness and elitism that some places in New York fall victim to. It’s a welcoming place.

No expense has been spared to make you feel right at home in their massive rooms (and they get even bigger than mine), and the attention to detail is nothing short of astounding. Everything has been incredibly well thought out, from the inscription on the guitar waiting for you in your room, to the pull out sofa aesthetic of your comfortable bed. And compared to what you pay for a basic hotel just a few blocks up the road, this place is a bargain. It is New York after all.

Whether you’re an artist (or self proclaimed “creative”) popping into the city for a weekend, a businessman/woman looking for a more interesting (and spacious) accommodation option, a couple looking for an exciting getaway in the heart of Manhattan, or just someone who likes feeling a bit “cool” (again with that word!) with the world at your fingertips, then this is the hotel for you.

Everything you need to know:

Rooms start from US$240 a night and range in size and amenities. For more details and exact prices, head to their official website: Ace Hotel is also located in Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Portland, London, Panama and Seattle. The hotel is located at 20 W 29th Street.

The writer stayed as a guest of the hotel. All photos by the writer except for the reception photo, provided by the hotel.

Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.