Checking In and Checking Out

In the World of NYC Hotels, It's an Ace in the Hole

by Jeralyn Gerba
All photos courtesy of Ace Hotel New York.

NEW YORK — Much of the third-wave hotel scene can be described as pre- or post-Ace. When the Pacific Northwest brand opened its flagship Ace Hotel New York on 29th Street and Broadway — in what was understood to be a generally un-cool area of Manhattan — it made a bet that it could transform the fly-by blocks into a bonafide neighborhood, with its hotel lobby as the major destination.

And Ace won.

The hotel was a smash from the get-go, defining a shift in the way hoteliers engaged with their cities and the way locals engaged with their hotels. With its innovative food and beverage partnerships (including a Stumptown Coffee Roasters outpost and a Milk Bar flagship), cool attitude (collaborations with musicians, artists, and designers), and signature lewk (reworked vintage furniture, record players, photo booth), the hotel spurred many knockoffs and managed to refashion the dingy Flatiron area as NoMad, a neighborhood now known more as a foodie mecca than a wholesale district for perfume, wigs, and knickknacks (though there are still vestiges of that old New York nearby).

And here's something else for the history books: Ace engineered the co-working space — before there was even a term for it — by offering communal tables, easy-to-access outlets, an all-day menu for noshing, and free Wi-Fi. No one batted an eye when locals showed up and turned the place into casual office space. The lobby became the blueprint for the modern town square. Flanked by a bar, restaurant, coffee shop, and flower cart, it's a place where people can gather with friends and colleagues to socialize and work, eat and drink, listen to music, and generally make themselves feel at home.

Book It

New York is always in demand, as are rooms at Ace. But budget is in the brand's bones, and you can usually find one option (bunk beds) for well under $200 a night. Click here for reservations, or contact the Fathom Travel Concierge and we'll book the whole trip for you.

Checking In

The Location
The area North of Madison Square Park (NoMad) is home to Shake Shack, luxury condos, and an increasing number of boutique hotels. It's also just north of the iconic Flatiron Building, where Broadway and Fifth Avenue intersect.

The Vibe
When the hotel opened in 2009, "hipster" would have been the proper term used to describe the place. It's still conscientiously cool, but now also worn in and comfortable, like a good pair of overpriced jeans.

This Place Is Perfect For
Out-of-towners who want to feel like locals; locals who want to feel like out-of-towners; people without offices who want a vibe-y work place .

But Not So Perfect For
Those looking for anonymity or a quiet refuge.

What's on Site
Stumptown Coffee Roasters is a Portland import that serves expertly crafted espresso drinks. Art installations, DJ gigs, and other happenings fill the lobby space day and night. The Lobby Bar serves craft brews and a bar snacks like mezze platters, wings, and a big burger. Milk Bar, the New York flagship of pastry chef Christina Tosi's empire, is a slice of heaven (with whipped cream) for those with an insatiable sweet tooth. The hotel no longer has in in-house restaurants and eateries it had in the past. 

Oh right, the rooms. They're certainly not the main attraction. Cozy, tidy, minimal (named Small, Mini, Bunk), they skew a bit young in tone. Loft suites offer more of a living room feel, with subway tile bathrooms, locally made furniture, and, possibly, a Martin guitar. All rooms have WiFi, a mini Smeg fridge, turntable, and flat-screen TV.

In-Room Amenities
You can shop your room for things like the custom Pendleton blanket, vintage records, and hoodie robe just by taking them with you — the hotel will charge it after you check out. Other necessities, like Rudy’s Barbershop bath products or custom guitar strings, are available at the front desk store.

The rooms are efficient and the offerings are democratic, but compared to the communal areas, they're a bit basic.

Standout Detail
The buzzing, Americana-tinged, retro-yet-modern Roman & Williams-designed hotel lobby. Symbols of the past ('70s-era sectionals, industrial lighting fixtures, French bakery table, vintage objects) set the stage for creative thinking, gathering, and merry-making. The place is teeming with life.

Checking Out

Adjacent to the hotel, simpatico retailers merchandise the Ace lifestyle: Rudy's Barbershop for a close shave, Sweetgreen for overpriced bespoke salads. Center for Book Arts showcases the book as an art object; Dover Street Market carries avant-garde clothing, installations, and a little cafe for the fashion set. NoMad is the heart of hipster-meets-bougie Manhattan, and that's what the neighborhood delivers, so much to see by walking in any direction. A pedestrian paradise, you can walk to the Empire State Building, wait in line at the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, or stroll at dawn to the flower market along 28th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. When you've had enough, walk all the way east and catch a ferry to Brooklyn. The N/R subway line at 28th Street is directly outside the hotel, making it easy to zip around the city. There's so much to see by walking in any direction. Buses, taxi cabs, ride shares, and rickshaws can all be found in this neighborhood.

Explore Ace Hotels

Meet Kelly Sawdon, The Boundary-Pushing Boss Lady Behind Ace Hotels
Find Inner Peace in Palm Springs, California
Is Panama City the Next Riviera Maya?

We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.