The hotels I tend to stay in when I travel are of the slightly funky, off-beat variety, and yet I have a small obsession with the really nice ones, and I invariably pay them a visit when given the chance. The lobbies and other public spaces are often the best part anyway, and they don't cost $500 a night to enjoy.
I've had wine at the Emiliano in Sao Paulo while sitting on a absolutely fascinating chair, I've had a relaxing bit of tea at the Four Seasons in Istanbul, a languid afternoon cocktail at the fabulous Alvear in Buenos Aires, and formal tea at the Peninsula in Hong Kong, in all cases while staying in cheap and cheerful accommodations down the street.
And in New York, despite the fact that I live in an apartment downtown, I'm no less taken with my local hotels. I've taken in the sultry scene at the Bowery Hotel on more than one occasion, and before the Bowery it was The Mercer that I would frequent The Soho Grand has been host to more than one delightful evening, and I will forever adore the bar at the Carlyle for those evenings when I feel like being a grown-up.
So I'm sure that you can imagine the draw that the newest hot spot New York hotel, the Ace Hotel, held for me (although as I was happy to learn from Terry B, who stayed there recently, that you can enjoy a room for significantly less than one might think).
photo via hotel website
The bar and restaurant are terribly popular, which means that in the interest of my own sanity I've generally steered clear. But the Ace does happen to be on a route that I find myself walking fairly frequently during the workweek, and as it was particularly hot and humid the other day, I felt justified in stopping in for a bit of a respite in the form of an iced coffee from Stumptown, which by the way, more than lived up to its excellent reputation.
However, it too turned out to be terribly popular, which meant that I had twenty minutes to kill while waiting in line to place my order. I took the time to take in the wonderfully dark and conspiratorial lobby design.
photo via New York Times
It was cool rather than aggressively hip, something that will serve as a sought-after location for some time to come rather than become a dated reminder of the naughts, I should think.
But for some reason, it was really the flowers that held my attention. When I think of hotel flowers I usually think of large, complex and overwrought arrangements, all of which seem to be attempting to mimic the fantastic bouquets at the Metropolitan Museum and failing miserably. Or I think of those impossibly imaginative arrangements at the George V in Paris where the celebrity florist Jeff Leatham works his magic.
photo via here
I love this idea of massive bunches of the same blooms at odd angles.
photo via here
It is sadly a concept that is mercilessly ripped off to mediocre effect in lots of New York hotels, one of which I am forced to walk by every day, staring at the reliably tilted blooms in the streetside window.
But the Ace Hotel engages in none of this floral peer pressure. Rather, they just go for big, bold bunches (apologies for the Blackberry quality photos).
This clutch of berry-laden branches is something I recognize after haunting James Durr Flowers every Saturday for years...hypernium I think? I recall loving it in my home until the small berries began to fall off...I was rolling about on the little ball bearings for ages. But the gradations of green and red are so lovely and really kind of unexpected in early summer.
I've certainly seen these big white spears of flowers in the flower district before...
...perhaps no coincidence that the Ace is mere minutes from said flower district?
And I simply could not get over this wonderfully absurd bouquet on the counter in Stumptown.
Now admittedly it is a tad blurry due to the poor quality of the camera, but in real life it actually did look nearly that fuzzy. Almost like a series of giant purple cotton balls, like something out Willy Wonka.
And lastly, I loved the simplicity of this vaguely prehistoric looking arrangement in the window at Stumptown.
Unpretentious and understated, but just so stylish.
I was inspired myself to attempt a big, cheap and cheerful arrangement at home.
Easy peasy summer in a vase. No tilting allowed.