Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles

Ace Hotel
 

Ace Hotel, Downtown Los Angeles


 

It’s rare to feel the sensation of an ‘up and coming neighbourhood’ as strongly as you do now at the intersection of Broadway and Olympic Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles. A very mixed company look on as giant cranes lift building materials delivered by huge trucks from early in the morning. Although this bustling district still has its share of apprehensive homeless people, there is now a new influx of young creatives who have only recently discovered the charm of this old part of the city. This renewed attention is reflected in recent openings of trendy niche stores and inspirational restaurants. There is an unpretentiouslooking pop-up Japanese restaurant — where guests sit in an informal circle around the chef — that can easily compete with the best sushi bars on the West Coast. No wonder investors found over a hundred million dollars to acquire the historic building that used to be the offices of United Artists but which now houses the ultra-hip Ace Hotel with 183 rooms on thirteen floors. This building seems to symbolize what is happening in this urban melting pot in this part of LA. Ancient history is being dusted off while fashionable modern design stores, complemented by inviting coffee shops, open their doors in the area. An attraction is that the United Artists Theatre, still complete and in its original condition, is part of the Ace Hotel, right next to the old United Artists office building. The theatre opened in 1927 and is an architectural gem of its time. It came about thanks to the joint investment of the grande dame of silent films Mary Pickford, her husband Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin. The unmistakable Spanish-Gothic style, retained in all its glory, was inspired by the many castles and cathedrals that Pickford and Fairbanks visited during their honeymoon in Spain. They realised their dream movie palace thanks to architect Howard Crane and worked on the interior with theatre designer Anthony Heinsbergen, whose use of stained glass, huge gilded mirrors and ceiling paintings immediately prompts thoughts of a Spanish cathedral. Mirrors reflect portraits of Pickford and Fairbanks and other prominent players from the Hollywood of the 1920s. Pickford made her debut in the United Artists Theatre in My Best Girl and numerous other major productions followed. Her private screening room is preserved in its original condition under the foyer. Time seems to have stood still within the walls of the theatre, trapped in the 1920s, but in reality the Ace Hotel organises over a hundred events here each year seating up to 1,600 people. During their stay, hotel guests can literally leave the 1920s and dive into the modern era. In the two years since it opened, the Ace Hotel has quickly made a name with its rooftop bar that offers comfy sofas, lovingly prepared cocktails and a pool where it might be better not to harbour Olympic aspirations. Although guests at the Ace Hotel seem to prefer spending their time on the bar-stools than in their rooms, those rooms have a sort of familiarity that takes you back to your youth. A guitar hanging on the wall by the inviting ‘Play with me’ sign, a large flat-screen at the foot of the bed and well-stocked minibar. There is a warning posted on the door that it would be a good idea to go outside with your cigarettes so you can meet a stranger rather than smoke inside the room and face a harsh penalty. If the music and bustle on the roof become too much, you can go downstairs to enjoy the dynamism of the public spaces throughout the day. Lunch and dinner are served in the room where fresh fruit with a memorable homemade granola is available in the morning. Homeless locals seem to have adopted the new residents of the United Artists Building and gather around the valet parking, occasionally reeling off a monologue about their circumstances. But travellers need not be concerned as they lend a sympathetic ear: the mistake — no doubt a result of jet-lag — of handing over a 100 dollar bill was met with a perplexed, “Hey man, this is crazy, this is too much!”

 
—Copyright 2016 Mart Engelen
 
 

Ace Hotel
 

Ace Hotel, Downtown Los Angeles

 
 

Ace Hotel
 

Ace Hotel, Downtown Los Angeles