When a city’s creative types gravitate towards one spot in which to work, network, dine, drink, and dance, you know it’s worth exploring. In the case of the British capital, that would – hands down – have to be Ace Hotel London Shoreditch. Located in the hipster haven of Shoreditch, it was opened in 2013 by American chain Ace Hotel, which also operates cooler-than-thou properties in cities like Seattle, Portland, and New Orleans.
It’s hard to believe the building once housed the faceless Crowne Plaza, a piece of trivia that will seem laughable from the minute you step in. Designed by Universal Design Studio, Ace Hotel London’s aesthetic draws inspiration from a wide range of influences ranging from British punk to the briefly lived Vorticism movement. Between the overspill of potted plants at the entrance to the check-in counter evoking a hip concept store and the trendy crowd hanging out in the lobby, it feels like sensory overload from the get-go – but in a good way.
Need to Know
Community is the name of the game, driving every activity, amenity, and space in sight. The Ace Hotel group compares a stay at one of its properties to “the experience of staying with friends who are plugged into the local scene”, and this ethos is reflected in everything from the young talent that performs at the hotel to the emerging artists whose work adorns its walls.
Ace Hotel London also strives to collaborate with independent businesses that it deems inspirational – both East London Juice Co. and That Flower Shop have set up shop on the property. The former serves fresh juices, tonics, and elixirs out of the on-site dispensary, and you can also have one delivered to your room. The latter is a floral boutique that specializes in working with seasonal flowers to create “uninhibited” bouquets inspired by the organic beauty of the wild.
What You'll Like
The constant hum of activity on the ground floor was the first thing I noticed – and liked – about the hotel. People-watching is always a great way to take in a city’s DNA, and the patrons at Ace Hotel London speak volumes without saying a word. As expected of Shoreditch, there are bespectacled artsy types sitting behind their MacBooks or sipping coffee with friends. Elaborate tattoos, skinny jeans, questionable hairstyles, and vintage-inspired designer clothing feature heavily, giving you plenty to observe.
Casual and low-key, the lobby features several public areas that transition seamlessly, with the perpetually packed communal work table taking center stage. An element of privacy comes through the furniture arrangements and a series of full-height Crittall glass and steel screens. There’s also a lovingly restored vintage photobooth just by the elevators – because why not?
Give the surroundings a closer look, and you’ll notice subtle décor elements that really help set the tone of each individual area – think: a cork ceiling fitted with copper light fixtures in the lobby, a skylight in the lobby bar area, edgy art in the gallery space, and patterned timber floors in the café. Regardless of where you have a seat, you get the sense that interesting ideas and opinions are being exchanged all around you.
What You'll Love
While I can safely say that I’ll never know my notes from my chords, I loved the fact that my room came equipped with an acoustic C.F. Martin & Co. guitar. There was also a moody mural taking up the wall by my king-size bed and a hardback copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray – it’s details such as these that contribute to the cool factor that the hotel has in spades.
I opted for the ‘Superior Deluxe Double’ room, which also offers plenty of extras for music junkies. A Revo radio boasts an Ace-curated radio station, while a Rega ‘RP1’ turntable is complemented by a wide selection of vinyl sourced through the legendary Sister Ray record shop. It seemed every genre preference was taken into account considering albums by the likes of Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, Chaka Khan, and Gladys Knight shared my space.
If you get a little too attached to the LPs in your room, you can take home a handful for a small price, and the same applies to many of the other handcrafted treats interspersed throughout. Artisanal bath products by Farmers’, leather coin trays by Ally Capellino, and quilts by A.P.C. are just some of the options if you feel the urge to splurge. The plushiest item for sale has to be the French terry bathrobe by wings+horns, which feels like a cross between a hooded sweatshirt and an old-school boxing robe.
With a dynamic program of events like live music, film screenings, comedy shows, and bingo games taking place nearly every day of the week at basement bar and performance space Miranda, there’s always an argument for staying put on the property. For a quintessentially British meal, head to Hoi Polloi, a modern brasserie created by Pablo Flack and David Waddington of Bistrotheque fame. The “fiercely seasonal approach” means that the menu is updated frequently and, in true Ace Hotel fashion, includes details on cultural happenings in the vicinity.
Bulldog Edition has (rightfully) established a reputation as Shoreditch’s neighborhood café. The coffee here is handled by Square Mile Coffee Roasters, which takes pride in its near-obsessive attention to detail when it comes to sourcing specialty beans – and it shows. After having tried London’s best when it comes to cafés, Grind and Kaffeine included, I’d still vote for this java joint.
The neighborhood’s creative culture is inimitable to say the least, famous – and infamous – for drawing talent that dares to defy the norms. Be sure to take in the no-holds-barred street art that Shoreditch is known for. If you’re short on time, Banksy’s “designated graffiti area” is only a two-minute walk from the hotel – just enter Cargo into Google Maps and you’ll notice a series of his artworks protected by plexiglass.
Contemporary Indian cuisine at the immensely popular Dishoom is also a stone’s throw away. A word to the wise: aim to have a late lunch or an early dinner in order to score a table in the elegant verandah, which unfortunately doesn’t accept reservations. A quicker meal can be enjoyed alongside indie fashion labels and eclectic homeware at Boxpark.
A trip to East London would be wasted if something a little offbeat didn’t make it onto your itinerary. Enter: Rich Mix, an experimental performance space that hosts art installations, cabaret shows, and more. Another must-visit hidden gem is Dennis Severs’ House, which can best be described as a “still-life drama” that is toured in absolute silence. Both can be reached easily on foot, but I suggest getting there in style, courtesy of the bespoke tokyobike bicycles that can be rented free of charge at Ace Hotel.
For more information or to book a stay at Ace Hotel London Shoreditch, click here.