Overview: The Portland-based Ace Hotel chain (with locations in Palm Springs, New York and London) recently expanded to downtown Los Angeles with its long-awaited conversion of the 13-story United Artists building and adjoining Broadway Theatre, both originally built in the 1920s.
The Location: Downtown’s vintage theater district still feels dirty and downright sketchy, particularly on Sundays when most of the nearby shops are locked down and chained up. But the Staples Center and L.A. Live are just around the corner, as are some of the city’s most in-demand restaurants.
The Room: “Medium Room” No. 511, with a view of the parking lot across the street. The room is tiny and awkwardly laid out, like a dorm room with plywood furniture – and, get this: with the foot of the bed flush against the wall. The mattress is comfortable and the pillows are soft but not down-filled. Plush gray hoodie robes are fantastic. The open floor plan makes the shower a centerpiece of the room, so you can’t be shy. Fortunately, the toilet does have its own private closet. Every room comes with a turntable and small stack of vinyl records, like Johnny Cash, Fleetwood Mac and Huey Lewis. Some rooms supposedly come with an acoustic guitar, but not this one.
Food/drink: The hotel’s ground-floor, all-day brasserie, L.A. Chapter, serves licorice-rubbed duck and a ragu of rabbit with lemongrass and sorrel. The burgers and Bloody Marys are very good, and the breakfast pastries are superb. There’s also a Mezzanine lounge and a rooftop poolside bar, both of which get the velvet-rope treatment after dark.
Public spaces: The charming little front desk – not much larger than a theater ticket booth – seems far too small (or maybe just technically inefficient), resulting in a perpetual wait. The rooftop pool isn’t really a pool but rather a nice, oversized hot tub. The views of downtown from the roof are beautiful.
WiFi: Free fast WiFi throughout the property.
Service: Friendly but minimal and rudimentary. The staff wears random, mismatched T-shirts and jeans, so it’s sometimes hard to tell who’s an employee and who’s a guest.
Cost: $250, plus taxes and fees. Parking, add $36 per night.
Bottom line: Fun hotel for the downtown nightlife crowd, but probably not a smart choice for business or families.
Where: 929 S. Broadway, Los Angeles
This article originally appeared in the Orange County Register. To view more of my work for the Register, check out the archives. I also invite you to follow me and join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.