Friend and fellow blogger Don Weir turned me on to the Ace Hotel. Ace, Portland, is grounded in specifics of place and zeitgeist. Part of the Ace philosophy is to create an egalitarian atmosphere by bringing together creative types with tight budgets and more affluent travelers willing to trade down, as it were, in exchange for cool. The hotel’s name is inspired by the card: the highest or lowest in the deck. Rooms with a shared bath, including three “band rooms” with bunks for touring musicians, are $85, while luxe penthouse rooms top out at just $250.
Hotel staff members (left), many of them recruited from hipster enclaves like the Tube bar (right), wear a look developed by Nom de Guerre: basic white shirts and Dickies pants accessorized with Ace-approved vintage items like pinstripe vests, skinny ties and bike-messenger caps.
The functional aesthetic of midcentury office design runs throughout the Ace, from the water bottles wrapped with a simple rubber band (an idea suggested by the New York design firm Roman & Williams) to the sober stationery, customized with the help of a hotel-issued style guide and embossing stamps.
Room numbers inspired by the numbers on Oregon telephone poles are made by the 113-year-old local company Irwin-Hodson. Blankets that refer to the city’s iconic elk statue are made by Pendleton Woolen Mills.
Music and art fuel the Ace’s mood. Many rooms come with turntables and a mix of vinyl from shops like Mississippi Records. Each room also has a one-of-a-kind mural; Room 428’s (right) is a reinterpretation of sheet music by the New York artist Kenzo Minami.
Wooden apple boxes used by photographers became tables and bathroom step stools.