Temporarily Closed! The youngest child in the Ace Hotel family forges its own identity on the Bowery. Sister City offers a tech-forward, minimalist retreat inspired by a refreshing Less, But Better philosophy, complete with 200 rooms, a ground-floor restaurant, and a rooftop bar.
OUR ARTICLEBY: Katie Barton Contributing writer
Imagine yourself drifting off NYC’s gritty lower Bowery and into a sanctuary of lush potted plants, ethereal acoustics, and a faint whiff of palo santo. This is not a meditation exercise—it’s the latest exploration in modern hospitality from Ace Hotel’s in-house design team, Atelier Ace. At Sister City, the Atelier brings a healthy dose of Southern California ease to downtown Manhattan, creating a welcome haven for travelers and locals alike.
During the winter months, Last Light also transitions into a makeshift tiki bar, with tropical plants, piñata tinsel, and strings of shells adorning the walls and ceiling—an uplifting motif if you haven’t seen the sun in a few days.
There are plenty of indicators throughout the hotel to assure you that you have not, in fact, stepped through another dimension and emerged in Los Angeles. The art on the walls in Floret, the all-day-cafe on the ground floor, comes on loan from The New Museum right next door; textured walls are a custom commission from Callidus Guild, a Brooklyn-based design studio. Sister City is both an extension of the city and separate from it, an elegant, pared-down counterpart to big brother Ace’s bold persona. Like her predecessor, Sister City appeals to the young, creative professional—but perhaps the young, creative professional who values their matcha oat milk latte just as much as their happy hour beer.
On the topic of refreshments and dining—Floret downstairs and Last Light on the eleventh floor both offer fashionable environs to unwind and, in the case of Last Light, take in killer views of the city from a spacious outdoor terrace. During the winter months, Last Light also transitions into a makeshift tiki bar, with tropical plants, piñata tinsel, and strings of shells adorning the walls and ceiling—an uplifting motif if you haven’t seen the sun in a few days. Treat yourself to the irresistibly named “Jon Snow on an Island,” a spicy punch of Bourbon, Rye, Aged Rum, Lime, Passionfruit and Ginger, and step outside to catch the sunset.
Consider the tiki bar moment a wink of quirky personality in what is otherwise an artfully refined space. A word that comes to mind throughout the entire Sister City experience is “intentional,” something of a buzzword in this, our Golden Age of Wellness. Effective minimalism is always intentional, but minimalism becomes exceptional when the select few things chosen also happen to be very beautiful. Let it be known that Sister City is exceptional at minimalism, each element contributing to the serene harmony.
Furnishings are either of the vintage variety (see: antique school chairs in the dining room at Floret) or custom, in the case of the guest room decor. In each room, simple wooden stools, desks, beds, and storage space spring organically from the floors and walls, all carved with sinuous lines echoing architectural elements like rounded archways and cornice molding. Sister City boasts an economy of space that draws inspiration from Finnish saunas and Japanese bento boxes—showers and sinks tuck into clever nooks, drop-leaf shelves fold up and away when not in use, the TV disappears behind the desk.
Sister City also positions itself as a tech-forward hotel, with Bluetooth speakers in each room and do-it-yourself digital interfaces. A check-in station in the lobby offers the same discreet and speedy service as the self-checkout at your local pharmacy. Need an extra room key or forgot your toothbrush? The 24-hour touch screens are at your service. Your room will offer fairly limited amenities, so this is the spot to stock up on beverages, snacks or any of the curated selection of toiletries. Should you need to speak to a human, a concierge is always available to assist and direct as needed.
Taking hospitality tech one step further, Sister City has partnered with Microsoft on an AI technology that records the sky above the hotel and then translates the information from nature into custom soundscapes to play in the hotel lobby. For the remainder of 2020, the skycam AI algorithm will create compositions from a library of Icelandic choral arrangements supplied by Bjork, and stream them live on Sundays. No two days will ever produce the same score, rooting the listener firmly in the present moment, which—come to think of it—kind of sounds like a meditation exercise.
Traveling with a buddy? Book a bunk room for a more spacious living area than the standard queen
The Bowery entrance brings you directly into Floret—to access the hotel lobby, go around the corner to Freeman’s Alley
The lobby concession goes above and beyond, with Mophie chargers and Bang & Olufsen speakers and headphones
Large groups are welcome at Last Light, reach out via the website to reserve space