Sipping frozen daiquiris always tastes better in a pool on a hot day, especially if that pool’s on a sexy Los Angeles rooftop with 360 degree views and surrounded by stunning architecture. So there we were at the ACE Hotel Los Angeles, five ladies on a weekend getaway to celebrate my friend Julia’s exciting move from the Golden State to New York City, on a mission to enjoy celebratory poolside beverages in the warm SoCal sun.
Checking In & Checking It Out
Handmade jewelry, local artwork, ACE branded clothing, loads of books, and vintage records all lend a warm and artsy vibe to the place as we sign in. But I can’t stop staring at the funky animal skin peeling away from the wall behind the front desk. Little did I know, we’d not only just checked into Downtown LA’s hottest hotel but also a true ‘temple of the arts.’
En route to the elevators I notice expertly hand-sketched pencil artwork (by Simon and Nikolai Haas) randomly covering the whitewashed walls – some eerie vintage celebs, others of nature or abstract, and a few at eye level but mostly peering down from above.
Around the corner, a cheerful floral designer named Amelia sets up an array of arrangements at her Birch and Bone stand. The bright colors pop perfectly against the black- and white-tiled Art Deco hall that separates the ACE’s lobby from the hotel’s main floor brasserie and bar, L.A. Chapter.
During the elevator ride our valet tells us that this ACE Hotel recently opened in 2014, but the famous United Artists Theatre Building that houses it has been a Broadway Street icon since Downtown LA’s first big art boom in the early 1920s. It even served as home base for the Wescott Christian Center, explaining the random ‘Jesus Saves’ signage that’s still intact outside the hotel’s presidential suite balcony.
Intrigued, I decide to check out more history after we check into our rooms.
Ladies & The Loft
Three of our ladies take ‘The Loft’ (aka: Weekend Party Headquarters) with phenomenal views of the Broadway Theater District corridor and original terra cotta building façade installations just outside the windows.
More artistic touches abound, such as exposed original concrete ceilings, a Martin guitar, and choice vinyl selections donated by Amoeba Records that beg for a spin on the room’s personal turntable. The Loft’s king bed, sofa/futon, roomy sitting areas, and handy kitchenette with impressive booze and snack offerings turn out to be a perfect fit for this girls’ LA getaway.
Meanwhile, the rest of our gang check into a spacious ‘Large Double Queen’ room with all the right perks for a girls’ getaway like Rudy’s toiletries, Pearl+ soaps, hairdryer, robes, free Internet, and abundant natural light. Just outside the windows, which thankfully open to the fresh air, I can nearly touch the building’s original United Artists neon sign that still serves as an artistic beacon in the neighborhood.
Finally in bathing suits, we race to hit the pool with SPF and magazines in hand, emerging from the elevators into the ‘Upstairs’ rooftop space that includes indoor bar with outdoor lounge, only to find an unexpectedly dainty concrete wading pool (inspired by Donald Judd’s in Marfa, TX) without a single spot to lounge.
No worries: It’s lunchtime and I’m dying to dig into some much-needed snacks and views from the rooftop’s lounge and bar that turn out great paninis, marinated olives, avocado toasts (my fave), and at long last… those delicious frozen beverages.
As a sucker for Art Deco and old buildings I’m blown away by the variety of incredible architecture just beyond this 13-story rooftop. Looking up again I spot our own building’s stunningly gorgeous and intricate Art Deco crown that dominates both sides of the ACE Hotel rooftop.
Movin’ On Up
After lunch, we finally claim some coveted poolside real estate and enjoy a scene that turns out to be exactly what we crave. And oh how the art kept flowing. Not on the walls or in the cocktails but on the colorful mix of people who flooded the sun-filled space all afternoon.
Only downside was slow beverage service; however, after several strong ones, we hardly minded serving ourselves. Attitude was nothing but friendly, with a variety of in-house guests and locals who know that this bumping rooftop is open to the public. So is the Mezzanine, my personal favorite ‘perch’ in the entire hotel, situated just above L.A. Chapter with a ‘secret’ bar of its own.
After dinner I settle into one of its cozy leather seats and enjoy a bourbon while looking for more hidden artwork in the seats, walls, rugs, and crowd below.
Turns out that this ACE Hotel can’t help but ooze with creativity as it sits directly atop one of the most beautiful shrines to the arts in the city. I’m talkin’ about ‘The Theatre’ – former flagship movie house of United Artists, built in 1927 and recently restored with a wide array of nightly entertainment, all curated by the ACE.
This must-see space is the original 1,600-seat movie ‘palace’ from the roaring 20s inspired by Spanish Gothic architecture. Private Theatre access from the hotel bar leads to a three-story grand lobby, open balcony and mezzanine, topped with a vaulted ceiling with thousands of tiny glimmering mirrors exploding with light.
Art Attack: Downtown Art Walk
The following day I rip myself away from my pool lounger to hit the streets outside at 9th & South Broadway and let mind-blowing murals guide my walk about the neighborhood. LACMA, not far away in West Hollywood, feels as if it’s opened its own pop-up exhibition right here in the streets of Downtown LA. When I was a kid living in LA I’d never imagine heading Downtown for a day of street art exploration let alone a luxurious weekend getaway with the girls.
On our last day we were treated to a breakfast surprise at the hotel’s L.A. Chapter – the best granola we’d ever had. House-made and served along with seasonal fruit, yogurt, addictive little cheesy muffins, and a whole lotta coffee before our final farewell to Julia on the rooftop.
Whether flying solo or with a group of adventurous travel pals, the ACE Hotel has created the perfect pied-a-terre in Downtown LA to soak up the neighborhood’s reinvigorated art culture that sparked there so many decades ago.