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The rooms at the Ace Hotel in Belltown are adorned with artwork by famed street artist Shepard Fairey. The clientele there, just like in the

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Alex Calderwood, Nation's Hippest Hotelier, Insists He's "Not Trying to Be Hip"

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The rooms at the Ace Hotel in Belltown are adorned with artwork by famed street artist Shepard Fairey. The clientele there, just like in the hotel's Manhattan, Portland, and Palm Springs offshoots where rooms often come with guitars, turntables and rotary-dial telephones as well, are typically young, artsy, and decidedly cool. Despite all this, Ace owner Alex Calderwood of Bellevue swears to The New York Times that he's not trying to be hip.

"We're not trying to be a quote-unquote hip hotel, per se," said Alex Calderwood, a pale, curly-haired 43-year-old. Wearing a T-shirt, Levi's and sneakers he designed in collaboration with Converse, he could pass for one of the stylishly unobtrusive guests.

That's right. He has his own Converse shoe.

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There's nothing hip about this Shepard Fairey art-adorned room.
The Times piece, published on Friday, explores Calderwood's still-blossoming career--from the punk rock-themed Rudy's Barbershop he started in 1992 to Belltown's Ace and the other businesses he's started since then.

As hip as Seattle's Ace is, it's likely the least scenester-themed of the four locations.

Calderwood's location in Manhattan (the primary subject of the NYT article), for example, takes the coolness to the most extreme level: The hotel doesn't even have a name, its walls are caked on with what looks like a decade's worth of graffiti and stickers, Q-Tip DJ's there, and the bar makes its own pickle juice for the sole purpose of offering "pickle backs," which is a drink consisting of a shot of whiskey and a shot of pickle juice.

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And this living-room thing? Not hip at all.
The Portland and Palm Springs branches exist somewhere between Seattle and New York on the Hip Meter. But for all four Aces, as one recent guest tells the Times, people go there "because it has good backdrops to get photographed against."

So keep telling yourself that your hotels aren't hip, Mr. Calderwood. Denial, after all, is the hippest state of mind there is.

 
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