Not long after my own Ace Hotel experience, Ryan O' Connell over at Thought Catalog wrote an ode to the crazy things he's overheard at the hipster hotel. He makes a profound point about the special breed of "bourgeois bohemians" who tend to hang there: that they're hilarious. I was too busy enjoying really good classical hip-hop to listen in on any hip convos from the rich kids, but from what I observed, O'Connell is spot-on.
1. The Reluctantly Enlightened Yuppy Seeking Zen
"I've been really getting into Buddhism lately, but the chanting is kind of stressful."
Because yoga is now so popular that it's on its way out, Buddhism is the obvious way to take trendy zen to the next level. But beware if the stressors in your life are so far and few between that chanting is an intolerable physical exertion, especially in a trendy hotel lobby
2. The Pampered Richie Seeking Independence
"People think having a doorman would be great, but it's actually kind of a hindrance. I feel like I'm answering to Mom and Dad whenever I come home drunk or something. It's bullshit."
Being able to afford a place with a doorman, coming home drunk a lot, and unresolved issues with mums and dadums? This reminds me of guys my former roommate used to date and therefore leaves me unsurprised that it was overheard at The Ace. The Ace is a place interested in the aesthetics of "the underground," and because of that, it can provide cred and inspiration to those who only understand "underground" in a sheerly aesthetic context.
3. The Negligent Mother With A Penchant For Pharmacology
"I gave August (her toddler son) some Ambien on the flight. Worked like a charm. Ugh, sleeping pills are a must for kids when we travel."
Trendy toddler name, jetsetting, pill-popping. Here we have an Us-magazine devotee who is also Buddhist Girl five years from now, looking to stay at a hotel that will make her feel authentically "arty" and "New York" in a way that a Hilton Garden Inn could not.
These quotations all lay out one side of The Ace- the hopelessly, eagerly trendy. But it's not only full of caricatures of the wealthy and hip. This hotel is fascinating, because it aims to be an accessible mishmosh of creative culture and hospitality--a space for bringing the edgiest of the obscure to the mainstream, with cheap-ish hotel rooms that look like a million bucks and wildly expensive entrees in the "everyone- is-welcome" multi-functional lobby.
What I concluded after I saw violinist Emily Wells perform there the other Sunday night, is that The Ace is trying to be the next Hotel Chelsea, and certainly that's annoying, because the effortless coolness of the Chelsea was accidental, legendary, and probably impossible to recreate; we'll never have 1966 again.
But for "the now," a time when people could argue that New York lacks that 60's artistic verve and that nothing interesting is consolidated or organized, it's worth noting that The Ace is attracting writers and artists, the rich and the loiterers.
Broke hipsters, perhaps the most pretentious of all, are suspicious, because of course anything that tries too hard to be cool is by definition uncool. It's like the Converse sneaker of hotels, attractively alternative but also reeking of the too-clean smell of a chain corporation. This phenomenon makes cool people feel nervous and unstable: is it legit or lame to like something that was designed to be cool and that potentially succeeded in its objective?
O'Connell makes a case for The Ace better than I could have:
"Personally, I prefer in-your-face marketing over the subliminal kind. It's more honest."
The Ace owns its mission and works pretty hard to keep up with what it wants to be. With that kind of brash attitude of lofty and crystal clear hipster intentions, people who complain about their own luxury doormen will inevitably come to The Ace- along with the people who just need some free wireless and the opportunity to offer the off-color remarks so ridiculous we may just over-analyze them on the Internet.