Ace Hotel debuts Sister City, an unpretentious outpost nestled in New York’s Freeman Alley

Bento Boxes & John Cage

“Distilled” is the operative word when describing the new Sister City hotel. The latest offering from the Ace Hotel empire, this new lodging takes on a sober and functional yet comfortable aesthetic that harkens back to simpler times; a welcomed respite from the hustle and bustle of the gritty Lower East Side neighborhood that surrounds it.

Though the design of this new boutique hotel draws inspiration from as varied a source as Finnish saunas, Japanese bento boxes, prehistoric rock-cut cliff dwellings, and deconstructivist musician’s John Cage’s seminal and silent 4’33” composition, Sister City’s use of lattice-wood wall structures, planes, and build-it furniture pulls it all together. Sharp terrazzo, geometric tile, indoor plants, and white-wall accents make for a striking mise-en-scene.

The new Sister City hotel sits snug in New York's iconic Freeman Alley.

(Adrian Gaut)

The 200-room property rises discreetly behind New York City’s storied Bowery and is at a stone’s throw away from the towering Public Hotel, and the Citizen M+ Hotel. These flashy venues have transformed the neighborhood by fostering a scenester and fashionista clientele. Adhering to a “less, but better” philosophy, Sister City offers a far less imposing or stressful experience.

“We wanted our guests to be granted a bit of nourishing serenity,” Atelier Ace Chief Brand Officer Kelly Sawdon explains. “It’s a notion inspired by the simplicity and generosity offered in the natural world, but brought into the center of a frenetic metropolis, where it’s needed most.”


The use of framed archways, lattice- wood walls and black and white flooring takes on an almost Art-Deco appearance. (Adrian Gaut)

(Adrian Gaut)

Sawdon and the in-house Atelier Ace team developed the new hotel by favoring necessity and intuition over “loud design moves.” The overall scheme champions quiet, purposeful, and honest architectural and interior details; all in the service of those who experience it. There are no artworks on the walls of the micro-bedrooms. Instead, each furnishing has been carefully crafted to standalone. Whether its Noguchi Akari lanterns, Italian cherry-wood bed frame, and tables, or terrazzo vanities, every finish has a deliberate purpose.

Terazzo vanities add striking accents to micro-bedrooms.

The design of the new hotel champions necessity. In some suites, bunk beds offer efficiency but also a level of coziness and comfort.

(Adrian Gaut)

“For Sister City, we wanted to see how technology could elevate compassionate hospitality as an extension of design.” Sawdon explains. “We developed self-registration kiosks, an intuitive website for personalizing your in-room amenities and worked with Microsoft Music x Technology and musician Julianna Barwick on an ever-evolving, generative Lobby Score.”

Each of the 200 bedrooms feature highly-crafted furniture and built-in desks and shelving units.

(Adrian Gaut)

The hotel is complemented by the soon-to-open Floret restaurant, on the ground floor, and the Last Light rooftop bar. The 11th-floor watering hole has a sweeping, unobstructed view of New York and is one of the only points at which guests interact with the city staying in this secluded retreat.

The hotel's crowning jewel is the 11th-story, rooftop Last Light bar.

(Adrian Gaut)