Somewhere between a hip designer’s loft and a rock star’s party pad, the Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles is unlike anywhere else and the logical progression in the boutique hotel brand’s expansion. It’s also exactly what downtown L.A.’s recent revival needed.
Located in the Spanish Gothic–style United Artists building—built in 1927 for Mary Pickford and her team of silver screen stars—the hotel was painstakingly designed to showcase both historic and contemporary artistry, from Noguchi lamps and Pendleton blankets in loftlike rooms to original art deco floors and hand-drawn portraits of famous Angelenos on the restaurant’s walls. The restaurant is one of downtown’s trendiest eateries, a surprisingly unpretentious hot spot for power breakfasts and romantic dinners. It’s the rooftop bar, Upstairs, though, that steals the show, with its panoramic city views, inventive cocktails, and nightly entertainment—almost all of which is free (except the drinks, of course) and open to the public, and attracts one of the most beautiful crowds in a notoriously attractive city. And, as cool as the surrounding neighborhood has become (Acne Studios and Aesop are neighbors, for example), staying in is just as fun; all rooms come equipped with a Rega turntable and old records, and some even have a C.F. Martin & Co. guitar.
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Downtown Los Angeles has been up-and-coming for several years, and the Ace is right in the heart of it. An urban oasis in the midst of a city known for its sprawl, downtown is a pedestrian’s heaven, filled with street art, historic architecture, and an ever-increasing collection of restaurants and shops. Award-winning restaurant Alma is just across the street from the hotel, and other hot spots such as Bäco Mercat and Orsa & Winston are a few blocks away. The indoor food hall Grand Central Market and the Historic Downtown Farmers' Market are both within walking distance and give an authentic taste of the vibrant and diverse neighborhood. Pop into the Last Bookstore for coffee and to peruse the best collection of books in L.A. Catch some of the best collections of contemporary art at the Broad Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art, and get tickets to a show at the Frank Gehry–designed Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Need to Know
Rooms: 182 rooms, 15 suites. From $199. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: The team behind Brooklyn’s almost painfully hip Five Leaves runs the Ace’s (at least equally trendy) L.A. Chapter restaurant, where the famous and well-dressed dine on Asian-inflected, locally sourced California dishes like the pineapple-and-pickled-beet-topped signature burger. Craft cocktails, Old World wines, and local beers are served at the bar. The Mezzanine Bar, just above, acts as a library-like lounge that also serves drinks and all-day bites. For Stumptown coffee and housemade pastries, stop at the Coffee Counter, just off the lobby. From the theater’s old ticket booth, local favorite Moon Juice sells its signature cold-pressed juices and healthy snacks. Up on the roof, at Upstairs, a lively, see-and-be-seen bar scene accompanies nightly events, Middle Eastern–inspired bites, inventive cocktails, and panoramic rooftop views. Spa and gym details: The hotel doesn’t have a spa, but there’s a 24-hour, fully equipped gym on the fourth floor. There are also custom Tokyobikes available to borrow, and bike tours of downtown are offered regularly. Don’t expect to get any laps done in the small rooftop pool, which is more like an oversized plunge pool, inspired by Donald Judd’s own pool in Marfa.
Who's it best for: Designer-clad, and design-conscious, young travelers—single, in a group, or with someone special. Our favorite rooms: All of the thoughtfully designed, loftlike rooms feel like a cool artist friend’s home, but the Medium rooms with terraces have outdoor space fashioned out of repurposed fire escapes, and scenic views all the way up Broadway toward the now-signature Banksy mural and City Hall. Back to the future: Originally built to screen films of such icons as Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin, the Ace’s Theatre has been lovingly restored to all its Spanish Gothic glory. Events—movies, concerts, talks, and more—are held there regularly.