In a city as transient and disparate as Los Angeles, the Ace Hotel has scored top honours - and a Wallpaper* Design Award for Best Musical Bolt-hole - with its latest edition, an ambitious heritage property located in the heart of the city’s evolving Downtown neighbourhood. Opened this week, Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles inhabits the once famous United Artists theatre, an evocative Spanish Gothic-style building erected in 1927.
Under the Ace group's watchful eye, the spacious building has been lovingly restored to its original theatrical grandeur, while utilitarian décor and specially commissioned pieces from a checklist of local artists and designers - such as the Haas brothers, Tanya Aguiñiga and Robert Lewis - secure its place firmly in the 21st century.
With 182 rooms and 16 suites, a restaurant, performance space and then a swimming pool and terrace bar on the roof, the hotel is undoubtedly Atelier Ace’s largest project to date. Yet great effort has been made to ensure the accommodations are as liveable as possible because of the nature of Los Angeles’ numerous creative visitors, many of whom may stay at a hotel for weeks or months on end.
In addition to Ace Hotel’s usual arsenal of top notch food, coffee and drinks (by restaurateur Jud Mongell and chef Ken Addington of Brooklyn’s cult eatery Five Leaves), the newest iteration introduces a focus on music – a decree that was initiated by the group’s late founder Alex Calderwood, and would satiate musicians and music fans alike.
Adjacent to the hotel, the United Artists’ marquis theatre has been transformed into a dynamic and decadent performance space. Brimming over with ornate details that include intricate stone spires, colourful murals and a dramatic vaulted ceiling decorated with tiny mirrors, the theatre is well-suited to host the premieres, screenings, conferences and other creative gatherings that proliferate Los Angeles. Each of the 1,600 theatre seats has been reclaimed and reupholstered. Even an Art Deco-inspired ticket booth, which operates as a newsstand during the day, awaits visitors at the entrance.
In the suites, a similar musical theme is echoed throughout. Although each of the 16 suites has been treated a little differently, Ace x Rega RP1 turntables and a curated collection of vinyl records come as standard issue. Selected suites boast a Martin acoustic guitar and a ceiling spotlight, under which amateur and professional musicians can throw an intimate gig at a moment’s notice.
Around the corner, an elegant bar is equipped with booze, mixers, implements and fresh citrus in the fridge so that the creative juices can get flowing just as quickly. With furniture that has been selected, conceived or commissioned by local outfit Commune Design (a recurring Ace collaborator and brains of the hotel’s interiors), the cosy, utilitarian suite is the perfect bolt-hole for long-term guests who might want to host their own visitors.
Although swimming pools are a mainstay of every Los Angeles hotel, the Ace has created one with a difference. Aesthetically, the rooftop’s indoor/outdoor space is a hybrid of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House and Hollywood’s legendary Les Deux Café. To complement the concrete pool - which was inspired by Donald Judd’s pool in Marfa - the rooftop also features a bunker-like bar with a lighting installation by Michael Schmidt and a courtyard space lined with steel-framed windows and canopies by artist Alia Penner. While boughs of flowing red bougainvillea and vines of ivy and fig bring the garden to life, it is the Naked Coral tree taking pride of place in the middle of the rooftop lounge that adds a unique foil to the dense urban view.
With Downtown LA’s Broadway revival now in full swing, the hotel is hitting all the high notes. The latest property is not just another notch on the belt for the group’s well-honed portfolio, but also a beautiful tribute to the late Alex Calderwood and his pioneering spirit.