BROOKLYN, NEW YORK: Stepping into one of the best of Brooklyn hotels, the Ace Hotel, its lobby provides a welcome respite from the sticky heat of high summer in New York City, but you’ll soon discover the pitch-perfect climate is only where the cool factor begins. Here, nestled discreetly within an industrial enclave in Boerum Hill, the brand new building with a Brutalist facade stands tall at a considerable 13 floors. It’s very late at night and I’ve just been flung off an uncomfortable flight from the West Coast, but the staff are friendly, efficient and welcome me like it’s a far more palatable hour, showing me through the space and offering recommendations for my stay – all helpfully located in nearby trendy neighbourhoods that spill out around Downtown Brooklyn.
As we walk through the lobby towards the bank of lifts that will take me to my room – one of the 287 on offer – I consciously ear-mark the space as somewhere I’d like to return to and enjoy during the day. The soothing palette of wood, moss green and charcoal is offset by a charming mix of raw textures and shapes, and a vast sculptural light installation – designed by Roman and Williams as an homage to the Hotel Okura in Tokyo – ushers me further into the Ace Hotel’s inimitable world of earthy interior marvels.
Up to the very top of the building on the lucky 13th floor, I gratefully sink into the relaxing space I’ll call home for the next few days. Outside my floor-to-ceiling window, I’m greeted by the twinkling lights dotting the Brooklyn skyline that bear an irresistible energy, even at night – perhaps particularly at night. I’m immediately struck by just how spacious my room is, having historically been huddled into spaces akin to a broom closet at other hotels in notoriously area-tight New York. The space has all the quirky touches that have become synonymous with the Ace Hotel – a custom Tivoli radio, an artisanal selection of snacks and funky original artwork from local artists.
There’s a spate of coat hangers and a rack awaiting my more crease-happy clothing items, and I don’t hesitate to slip into one of the Atelier Ace x wings+horns robes at my disposal. I learn that all the rooms contain locally-made and reclaimed vintage furniture, leaving me with multiple spots to recline – including a large desk and chair, a comfy emerald daybed and a sweet side table and armchair. The bathroom is similarly spacious, with cement tiles and loads of chic alcoves for me to stow my many, many toiletries – though I needn’t have been so eager to pack, as the Ace Hotel has provided a slew of eco-friendly beauty and body amenities to enjoy.
I get one of the best sleeps of my life in the king-sized bed, which I later find out is actually courtesy of an organic, biodegradable and sustainable latex mattress – oh, and the block-out blinds, which allow me to easily recover and reset on Brooklyn time. Wanting to languish in my room for as long as possible but desperate for a caffeine hit, I order a cold brew and a coffee cake from the Ace Hotel’s in-house restaurant and bakery – both of which arrive and disappear just as promptly, satisfying my discerning inner-Melbourne coffee snob. I spend a few hours enjoying a book beneath the early morning sunshine at the couch beneath the window before stepping out to explore. Per the uber-cool Ace Hotel staff’s suggestions, I lazily meander between the streets of Cobble Hill and Fort Greene, to which the hotel is located between. Spent after a long day getting lost in New York’s coolest borough, I arrive back at the hotel to see a cool, creative crowd have congregated to enjoy the last of the afternoon sun over food and drinks down at the aforementioned in-house eatery, As You Are. I subsequently scrap my previous plans and schedule dinner there for the following evening.
The atmosphere is buzzing when I settle in for my meal at the all-day dining destination with friends, and I zero in on the New England Oysters and Parker House Rolls with Roasted Garlic Butter to begin. Overwhelmed by the sheer volume of mouth-watering delicacies on the menu (note that I’m also an indecisive Sagittarius with adventurous taste), I lean on our waiter for advice. We’re recommended the Maplebrook Burrata with grilled stone fruit panzanella, american prosciutto and watercress, the Bucatini with sungold tomato confit, basil, and chili breadcrumb, the Seared Maine Scallops with polenta, garlic scapes, pickled blackberry, and brown butter almonds and the Confit Lamb Ribs with chili crisp, garlicky yogurt, cucumber and flatbread.
After those descriptions, I surely don’t need to detail just how utterly delicious it all was, but I will. As You Are is headed up by Chef Michael King, whose passion for global cuisine is evident in the sumptuous, occasionally surprising flavours that become a truly harmonious mix of tasty, satisfying dishes. My favourite was undoubtedly the lamb ribs, but Pastry Chef Danny Alvarez’s soft, chocolate S’Mores Pavlova For Two with molten cake, toasted marshmallow and graham cracker ice cream comes a close second as some of the most elegant comfort food I’ve eaten.
As a writer with deadlines that don’t take time off, I oscillate between my convenient in-room office and the comfy ground floor co-working space during the day. When it’s not playing host as a watering hole to a stylish crop of Brooklyn locals, The Lobby transforms into the perfect tranquil place to perch your laptop for the day, with lots of natural light, power outlets and breakout spaces handy, surrounded by neighbours and fellow travellers looking to get some work done. In between meetings, I snack on cookies from As You Are’s bakery menu and people-watch as a welcome distraction from a story while I wait for inspiration to strike. My procrastination even extends to exercise, as I check out the gym during a Zoom webinar for work. I can’t say I put in a whole lot of effort on the treadmill, but being inside the ‘retro sweat’ interior is enough to feel smug – especially when I spot the hotel’s special merch collaboration with iconic streetwear label Yeah, I Work Out, because that totally counts.
On the day of checkout, I’m so sad to leave that I seriously consider adding another night to my stay last-minute. I check my dwindling bank account (thanks, US-to-AUD exchange rate) and resolve that I probably can’t cop the loss of a cancelled flight, but I’ll definitely be back – and thankfully, Brooklyn’s Ace Hotel awaits.
Book your stay at the Ace Hotel Brooklyn here.
This article initially appeared on Grazia International.