The Ace Hotel, London
If you're headed to London and want to avoid the tourist throngs and overpriced chain hotels of the West End, move your finger a few inches to the right on the Tube map. The up-and-coming (up-and-came, some would say) Shoreditch neighborhood offers authentic eats, great cask-pulled pints, and stroll-worthy streets where you're more likely to bump shoulders with one of the city's creative class than photobomb a German backpacker's Instagram shot of Big Ben. Until recently, Shoreditch accommodation options lacked the neighborhood's local character; that changed with the opening of the Ace Hotel London, the first overseas outpost of Alex Calderwood and his Portland, Oregon-based Ace Hotel chain.
The new hotel follows the Ace recipe – so successful in Palm Springs, Portland, and New York – pairing rough-luxe interiors, vintage furnishings, and unfussy staff with hip conviviality. Though the 264-room property is a reworked Crowne Plaza, the Ace Shoreditch has put some muscle on its bland, corporate bones. Calderwood hired London firm Universal Design Studio to redo the interiors with industrial Ace familiars (distressed concrete walls, filament bulbs) and warm touches such as thick-pile wool carpets, copper lighting fixtures, and playable C.F. Martin & Co. acoustic guitars hanging on the walls.
As in other Ace locales, the lobby is intended as a meeting place for anyone in the neighborhood, not just overnighters. Bulldog Edition, a cafe overseen by former world barista champ James Hoffman, attracts commuters as well as foreign dawdlers. It's next to a modernist brasserie called Hoi Polloi, the entrance to which you'll likely miss because its hidden behind a flower shop Calderwood relocated from a few blocks away. Quirky, but it suits the neighborhood and proves that this Portland transplant will do just fine here. Your next trip to London might just be better for it.
More information: Standard rooms at the Ace run from $250 a night.