Even if you don’t have the opportunity or desire to stay in an Ace Hotel on your next trip, you should do what you can to at least drop by for a drink if the unique aesthetic interests you. The Ace Hotels are the brainchild of the late Alex Calderwood and his partners Wade Weigel and
Doug Herrick.

Before diving into hotels, the trio had created and opened Rudy’s Barber Shop which proved to be wildly successful and still is today. The concept for a hotel started to come into existence at some point during the 90’s and Calderwood has been quoted as saying that he was hoping to create the type of hotel for “people we knew—DJs, artists, magazine creators, graphic designers, musicians—would want to stay.”

The first Ace opened in 1999, and was built in a converted halfway house in Seattle. The name for the hotel came from Calderwood’s child nickname, and also because he liked the Ace card in the deck represents both the high and the low. That mix of high and low is what made the hotel so different than many of its counterparts. There was both at once designer aspects and expensive artwork displayed, but with an overall almost hostel feel to the hotel.

The company didn’t choose to open the Ace next until years later, but once they did they decided to expand the size and continued to do so with each subsequent hotel they opened after that. The first Ace in Seattle only had 28 rooms, while the second in Portland had 79, and the Palm Springs one jumped to 179 rooms.

Part of the formula of what has made the Ace so successful is not only it’s ability to mix the low brow with the high, but to be feel luxurious and yet local and a bit cozy at the same time. The Ace in Palm Springs for example has a luxury spa, but it also has a retro diner that was built into an old Denny’s, and curated walking sticks and blankets in the room for sale. Unlike most hotels the pool area is open late in conjunction with the bar, which gives the hotel the feel of a little more freedom.

Each Ave hotel is also completely unique, although if you were blindfolded and dropped off into one you could still place the company of the hotel, if not the actual town by first glance. The Ace hotel in downtown Los Angeles was actually built into an old historic theater in the United Artists Building that is used today for concerts and other shows.

Today there are seven open Ace hotels, in Seattle, Portland, Palm Springs, New York, London, Panama, and Los Angeles. Before his passing Calderwood stated that he intended to keep opening Ace hotels at the rate of one every two years. Although he is no longer to assist with the process, his legacy lives on and we can expect to see more of them in the future.

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