Ace Hotel, Pittsburgh

, July 9, 2018

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Venturing inland from coastal Philadelphia to Pittsburgh is its kind of Pennsylvanian pilgrimage, a routing through which the passages of the industrialisation of the United States became fully realised. At the beginning of the 20th century, Pittsburgh was producing half the country’s steel, granting it a status which is just about retained until foreign competition put the industry under pressure from 1970.  Jump forward to 2018 and Pittsburgh has fully developed as a trendy metropolis, complete with an Andy Warhol museum, Richard Serra sculptures and, most recently, the arrival of the Ace Hotel brand to the city’s attractive Shadyside neighbourhood.

Whereas a number of earlier Ace Hotels have had to put up with cramped, if historic, urban locations, the Ace of the former steel capital reaches out and up from within, no doubt thanks to a ready supply of locally sourced girders. By contrast, arrive at Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles and you’ll need a sharp agility to halt your advance before passing into the hotel, or make it up the stairs at the Ace next to Pike Place Market and either enter your room or lurk in the shallow reception. Meanwhile the Ace in Pittsburgh is spacious and its former YMCA ceiling vaulting, as if in competition with an East Liberty Presbyterian Church, located across the street.

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Grab your room key and head smugly upstairs via the elevator with complementary pair of coffee tokens for Stumptown Coffees, then the typical Ace details unravel. Though the infamous stench of the fourth floor should have put me off soon enough to request another room, I made it to my room with nose pinched, immediately shut the door behind me before having a glance around. A broad bed lay low with plywood frame, Pendleton quilt and a market-leader welcome card on the bedside table.

These kind of greetings cards have become commonplace in the “affordable luxury” category of hotels. Yet most pieces of stationery have a regular piece of art work on the front and a small templated note within the texted section. Yet the creativity of Ace’s note was impressive, the kind of work that can’t be completed without the diligent and conscious application of a truly sincere and artistic employee.

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Once I had diverted my attention from evident welcome, a quick tour revealed all the delights of an Ace bedroom, with Rudy’s products in the shower and a small slab of soap from Pearl+ soap by the sink. Other constants across the Small, Medium, Large and Suite room types include a “utilitarian” writing desk, minibar and reserve seating area, starting at 250 sq. ft. and scaling to nearly double this in the case of the Suite. Some suites also have a freestanding bath, not indicated through the regular booking process.

Return to the lobby to enjoy the cocktail bar, indulge in Stumptown Coffee or else cross the room and opt for something more substantial at the Whitfield, which opens from 7am and serves a variety of dishes throughout the day. View the various menus for the Whitfield before you arrive at Ace and also, keep an eye on the events calendar for on-site sessions that from Tai Chi to Yoga.

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Training Notes

Pittsburgh’s relatively small size makes its endurance scene easily navigable, especially from the doorstep of Ace in Shadyside. Your booking entitles you to complimentary access to Fitness Factory, an advanced gym with a history discernible through its abundance of equipment including barbells, weight bands and cages.

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A 400m athletics track can be found on campus at Carnegie Mellon, accessible t members of the public when organised meets aren’t in place. Carbon road bikes can be rented from Top Gear Bicycle shop, not even 400m from the hotel’s entrance. Indoor cycling classes are served up at Zenergy, with clip-in shoes provided and early morning classes for working professionals. Swimmers can get into the 3-lane pool at L.A. Fitness on a drop-in rate, the pool being only half a mile from Ace, straight down Penn Avenue.

Those looking for a sports massage or other maintenance treatments should look to Judit European Day Spa, a slick operation run by a team that knows about athletics. Their deep tissue massage can either be served up in a 30-minute window or a longer, 60-minute session. Pedicure is also on the menu, as it should be on every serious athlete’s quarterly calendar.

For bookings and more information on Ace Hotel, Pittsburgh, head to acehotel.com/pittsburgh.