Hipster brand Ace Hotels is launching a new “lean luxury” hotel concept called Sister City in New York this autumn. It’s another example of how the affordable luxury trend is gathering momentum and great news for travellers who don’t want to compromise on good design when on a budget.
The 200-room property will be located in the Bowery district on the Lower East Side (at number 225), and will offer guests access through a garden from Freeman Alley. The former tenement building was previously used by the Salvation Army but will take on a new life in the coming months. Ace describes Sister City as an “experiment in essentialism”, with the hotel “distilled to its most beautiful working parts”. The idea is that travellers are not paying for all the added extras of a typical five-star hotel such as butlers, swimming pools, gyms, and large suites with opulent furniture and marble bathrooms.Instead, Sister City has taken inspiration from the minimalism, utilitarianism and well-constructed beauty of Finnish saunas and Japanese bento boxes. The company says that Sister City will be “a new prototype for compassionate hospitality where efficiency and beauty find union”.At 15 sqm to 24 sqm, the rooms will not be big but that tends to be the norm in New York where real-estate is at a premium. Prices will start from $259 a night, which isn’t exactly cheap but, for the Big Apple, isn’t expensive either.
There will also be a ground-floor restaurant and a rooftop bar. Beyond this, not much has been revealed about the details of Sister City’s interiors and amenities. Kelly Sawdon, chief brand officer of Atelier Ace, says: “We are inspired by the philosophy of ‘less, but better. The inherent satisfaction of having just enough. Sister City looks through a focused lens to truly anticipate what people need when they’re traveling – comfort, beauty and human connection.”The new hotel is in good company – just down the road is Ian Schrager’s new Public hotel (pictured below), which is also a proponent of affordable luxury and opened in the Bowery last year at 215 Chrystie Street. Like Sister City, it favours Scandi aesthetics but also has communal co-working spaces, which its competitor may or may not install.A little background on Ace Hotels – it has nine US properties in cities such as Chicago, Portland and LA, as well as one in London.
Over the years it has become a trendsetter in the “lifestyle” hotel sector, prompting many major chains to launch millennial-oriented sub-brands such as Moxy (Marriott) and Canopy (Hilton). It says: “We are not here to reinvent the hotel, but to readdress its conventions to keep them fresh, energised, human.”