Ace is a word that conjures images of “success,” “primacy,” and “excellence.” But in the case of Ace Hotel in New York, it’s more of a marketing ploy, like calling New Jersey the Garden State or red delicious apples “delicious.” Interestingly, Ace also lands pretty early in the dictionary and reeks of an attitude of, “Well, here’s an option. Let’s not waste any more time thinking about this and just see how things play out.”
To start with, at 5:30 in the morning, the lobby music hindered my check-in. Neither the hotel staff nor I could hear each other above the terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible “trap” music dominating the lobby. The woman checking me in insisted it was very popular last year. But much like a gentle caress of the inner thigh, it only belongs in very specific places shared between very specific people. 5:30 am in a hotel lobby is not one of them.
I took the elevator upstairs to find a dark, narrow hallway shoddily painted and reminiscent of a low-rent, New York City apartment. Perhaps it was designed to make New Yorkers feel at home (which is odd, since I doubt a New Yorker would stay in a hotel in New York). Fully embracing this New York “home” feel, I discovered a cramped, dreary room with “reclaimed” furniture. There was the unfinished wood desk, the bed that looked like a futon, the refrigerator made out of a roadie case, the end table with peeling wood laminate, and the piping used for shelves and towel racks.
The most amazing part was the attention to detail. The chipped paint around the sink fixtures for example. The cracked window. The bar across the middle of the desk that hits your leg right at shin level. The toilet seat that sits around mid-thigh (I’m 5’10”). The “distressed” look of the door. The black carpet, black bedding, black blinds (that somehow fail to black out the room) and black trim really make the room feel small and existentially depressing like some kind of Eastern Bloc housing project. They even give you black soap so every time you wash your hands it looks like you just finished up a shift in a coal mine.
(To go on a minor tangent, my friend, also staying in the hotel, walked into the black wall in the middle of the night, got a concussion, and later needed brain surgery. No, I’m not making that up. He’s currently doing fine.)
But the real coup de grace is the massive wall hanging (also black) that I at first thought was a bed sheet. It’s the kind of thing a person would only hang to cover something more hideous, like a massive hole looking through the wall to your neighbor’s meth lab or the bloodstain on the wall from the previous tenant who blew their brains out.
Then there’s the noise. Granted, this is New York City, but Ace Hotels sounds like it was built directly above a train yard. There’s the traffic, the sirens, the jackhammers and people shouting. I’ll give you that. But when I got here, I thought the noise was being generated by some kind (I just hit my shin on that bar) of white noise machine provided by the hotel. It was just too perfect, too predictable and seemed like the kind of ridiculous atmospheric effect Ace Hotel would add. When that proved to be untrue, I actually thought the window was open. Nope. There’s just literally no soundproofing whatsoever in this hotel. A fact made abundantly clear a few hours later when guests and hotel staff started walking around the halls.
A few years ago, I was working in New York and slept on a friend’s couch for a few days. It wasn’t very comfortable. The apartment was cramped and poorly maintained. It was noisy and smelly and felt like people were literally living on top of you. If you want this New York experience, but don’t have any friends in New York, Ace Hotel can help you out. If you want a good night’s sleep and a completely forgettable hotel stay, I’m going to hope the Big Apple has something better to offer.