Text description provided by the architects. Universal Design Studio designed exteriors and interiors of the Ace Hotel London, including 258 guest rooms, an 1,800 square foot seventh floor event space, a 2,700 square foot restaurant, Hoi Polloi, and a 3,900 square foot lounge and reception area comprised of retail units, a bar, café and art gallery. Both exterior and interior design focus on traditional craftsmanship, embedding the space within the historic context and material heritage of Shoreditch. Material choices are informed by East London's longstanding role as a centre for the performing arts, as well as a historic home to skilled trades like shoemaking, furniture making, rope making, ship building and silk weaving.
Façade & Exterior Details
Immediately facing a conservation area, the area surrounding Ace Hotel London Shoreditch has a rich architectural history, composed of a tightly knit grain of warehouses, shops, residential and industrial buildings. The intent of the façade is to mesh with the urban fabric around us. Contemporary takes on traditional material cues use expressive brickwork, infill and pattern to reanimate the street level of the building, bringing activity to the front and breaking the façade into a number of independent units and uses. Dark 'engineering brick', often found in traditional utilitarian buildings is used to ground the base in local tradition. A rich mixture of textural changes — brick bonds and receded bricks alongside glazed and unglazed patterning — create a series of distinct identities across the span of the façade. In reference to local metalwork traditions, Crittall windows, doors and industrial elements like grids, cast bronze, galvanised steel and waxed finishes add to the authentically local character.
Communal areas at Ace Hotel London Shoreditch include the ground floor lobby, a communal table, café, lobby bar and gallery space. The lobby is envisioned as a hub for interaction for hotel guests as well as the surrounding community, and continues the real-Shoreditch tone set by the exterior, with common local materials like brick, metalwork and Crittall glazing. A series of room-like zones are created through furniture arrangements and a series of full-height Crittall glass and steel screens, inviting the language of articulated shop fronts, that begins with the façade, indoors. A cork ceiling fitted with custom copper light fixtures and timber parquet flooring steeps the setting in the local visual culture.
￼A rich theatrical history is reflected in moments throughout the communal spaces as well, like a custom theatre-style light grid installed in the external entrance foyer. Ace Hotel London Shoreditch sits on the original site of the Shoreditch Empire, later the London Music Hall. The Empire, designed by prolific theatrical architect Frank Matcham, opened in 1856 and played host to stars like Charlie Chaplin.
In the lobby bar area, a lighter colour of brick, articulated brick patterns, and a skylight that draws natural daylight lend to the uniqueness of the space. Artist Max Lamb was commissioned to design the bar cladding, bar stools and cocktail tables. A long, sixteen-seat communal work table by Benchmark in the lobby is a bespoke piece made of cast iron, oak and copper which can be used as an informal meeting or work space.
The café features a range of rich finishes including handmade tiles and patterned timber floors. The gallery space will rotate artist exhibitions and we're collaborating with local artists on details throughout the lobby.
The approach to the guest rooms was to think of them as a friend's Shoreditch apartment, a collection of furniture and objects acquired over time, each with stories and memories attached. Each guest finds a curated shelf with a distinct identity and experience of place — useful crafted elements (maps, sketch pads) from local makers, records, books, a pin-up cork board and found curiosities. This magnetic shelf by T Nevill & Co. can be changed or added to by guests during their visit.
A utilitarian colour palette on the walls of the rooms creates a modest shell, a low-key canvas for ￼simple but considered bespoke elements like folding metal display shelving, matte-finish oak bed platforms and expansive daybeds with reverse-denim upholstery. The full-width daybed encourages social interaction and a round table replaces the standard hotel room desk with something more domestic and multi-functional. The mixture of matte-finish solid white European oak, black powder- coated metal and fabrics add texture in consonance with the cool, pared-back approach throughout, to allow for curated objects to stand out.
Custom tile patterns, mirror-faced bathtubs and 'exterior' light fittings in bathrooms are complementary patterns against a monochrome palette.
Other notes include cast bronze light fixtures and a Noren curtain made of vintage boro fabric, contrasted with stainless steel work surfaces and a floor made of black hexagonal encaustic tiles. Signage and graphics are screen-printed on plywood. The warm, earthen atmosphere, set against a clean, utilitarian space complements the objective of providing natural, holistic sustenance in the midst of travel and work.