Ace Hotel Palm Springs Spa Now Open

I have a soft spot for Ace hotels. This loving relationship began when I visited the Ace in Portland and stayed in a guestroom that overlooked the historic Powell’s bookstore, the perfect view, in Portland’s case. The amenities in my room included a Gibson guitar, turntables, and comfy sofas upholstered in vintage materials. The room itself was masculine and modern without being pretentious – spacious and simple. The staff was just as hip as the clientele. Ace soon opened a year later in New York in the Flatiron, bringing that whole “downtown” scene above 14th street. Partnering with cult-status brands like Opening Ceremony and Stumptown Coffee, it’s spurred a lifestyle concept that many hotels don’t yet know how to do emulate. In fact, the Ace lobby lounge is just as busy during the day, functioning as a “hang out” space, as the Breslin restaurant is on any given night. So it’s good to know that Ace keeps on truckin’ outside the Big Apple with new ideas and plans. In fact, the Palm Springs location—Ace Hotel & Swim Club—just opened up a spa last week.

Feel Good Spa opened under the full moon weekend with a poolside gathering to the beat of a pagan drum circle and belly dancers. Seriously, could there have been a better launch party? The whole philosophy of the spa is to “bring your physical, emotional, and spiritual being back into a healthy balance.” This can be done with detoxifying massages, facials, muddy body treatments, mani/pedis, or even the 24-hour compact gym. The first spa of the Ace brand is off to a Feel Good start. I think it could use a moon dance every weekend.

The Dish: Breslin’s Lamb Burger

What: Chargrilled lamb burger with feta, cumin mayo, and thrice-cooked chips. Where: The Breslin at the Ace Hotel. Ideal meal: When you’re in the mood to rub shoulders with scenesters—literally, it’s really crowded around dinner time. Because: Chef April Bloomfield did marvelous things at The Spotted Pig. And if you don’t love (or are at least fond of) that burger, you’re wrong. Tastes like: Tender lamb patty, slightly charred on the outside, atop a soft bun with the most wonderful/intriguing cumin mayo addition. The fries are really, really amazing. You won’t be able to leave spares on the plate. Bottom line: It’s a pricey burger at $17, but the same as S.P.’s version. Worth the indulgence.

Nightlifer’s Response to Haiti

Lelaine Lau is a fixture in NY nightlife, working at fabuloso places like the Breslin, Mercer Kitchen, Hudson Hotel, Balthazar, Bungalow 8 and a ton of etcetera’s. She is the founder of Saloniere 403, a cultural salon. While most of us have only offered our relegated thoughts to the continuing disaster in Haiti, Lelaine has gone down there to try to do something.

What was the purpose of your trip to Haiti? I teamed up with a foundation aligned with Columbia University’s Earth Institute to explore potential educational and cultural partnerships which we hope will help to uplift, celebrate and heal Haiti and her people. The project is centered around the content recently released music of ‘Alan Lomax in Haiti.’ Lomax was an ethnomusicologist, who, at the age of 20, was commissioned by the Library of Congress to go to Haiti and explore the roots of folk music in 1936. For a year he traveled around Haiti to record traditional Haitian music, celebrations and rituals. His recordings include everything from Rara, Troubadour, Merengue, Carnaval, children’s songs and around 90 hours of audio and film. This treasure trove of vintage Haitian culture remained unmastered for decades until after his death.

The idea of recovering and restoring cultural works, museums and other places of heritage brings about an excellent opportunity to dovetail with other efforts in preserving Haiti’s rich cultural history. The relief efforts are addressing immediate needs, while our efforts address the long-term rebuilding of national pride through educational and preservation initiatives. We hope to develop a strong cultural curriculum alongside Haitian educators and scholars, while also working with groups who further preservation and repatriation. Who did you go with? I went with a friend, Kimberly Green. She’s based out of Miami and is president of her family’s foundation, The Green Family Foundation, which has been funding anti-poverty development and healthcare interventions in Haiti for 10 years. A few years ago, she began funding the first Millennium Village Project in Haiti alongside with the Earth Institute, an initiative spearheaded by noted economist Jeffrey Sachs. The project is geared toward attaining the UN’s Millenium goals by developing sustainable and long-term economic solutions by empowering the country on a community level, so these villages may lift themselves out of extreme poverty. It is a hand up, not a handout. I must add that Kimberly is a woman who has a led a truly remarkable life. I am honored and humbled to be her friend and so inspired by all she has done. She is a free and kindred spirit, and has made tangible contributions to the world and those less fortunate. We actually have discussions about developing new terminology for ‘philanthropists’ like her to denote not only those who give in order to promote systemic change, which is typically a harder sell in the charitable world, but those who are also willing to roll up their sleeves, do the work and get dirty. I just don’t feel the words charitable or philanthropist do justice to what she does. How did you get involved? Kimberly and her good friend Fisher Stevens had come up with the idea of doing radio PSAs using some of the Lomax material to highlight the history and culture of Haiti instead of just lamenting on the grief and devastation. I ended up collaborating on the text read by Sting, Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts and got a major crash course in the history of Haiti during the 48 hour process. This is a girl who really has great ideas and knows how to make them happen! Was this your first trip to Haiti? Yes, I had never visited an impoverished nation, much less one that was in a state of emergency. I came almost two months after the quake, but the devastation was still profound. It was a roller-coaster ride of conflicting emotions. There is no denying the horrific conditions they are living in, but the Haitian culture, it’s people and the enthusiasm that surrounded this project was euphoric. What was your first impression? The dust created a dark haze that covered the city. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before, even as a native Angeleno. We could barely make out the coastline. The thing that struck me the most was the very poignant entrepreneurial spirit. People were selling things on every corner, people moving with purpose, one man striding along with a shirt, tie and tie clip. The industriousness is impressive, but it’s not regulated which is a set-up for another economic disaster. I saw a popcorn machine, shoe shine and car wash on the edges of camps. Some of the camps are not officially acknowledged or serviced because they fear the camps might become permanent down the line. What surprised you about Haiti? There appeared to be a sense of outward normalcy for businesses and for the upper-middle class. We met with many arts and cultural groups, business owners and department ministers who were back at work to try to instill a sense of normalcy. Of course we heard horrible stories, many people lost family members, but we also visited private homes, some of which had no, or very little damage at all. Even though they weren’t affected on a personal level, they still were passionate about the rebuilding, which colored almost all of our interactions with the local Haitians. Another thing I was surprised about was the number of hotels and restaurants that were open for business. I learned that some of the owners had conflicting feelings about reopening, especially with camps very close by, but they were supporting the economy and families that worked there. I was given pause one evening when I heard an unsubstantiated rumor that 2 people were kidnapped outside of the restaurant we were in while we were eating inside. I was quite impressed by the quality of the food. As we’re on the topic of hospitality, I have to say that one of my biggest disappointments was not getting to experience RAM night at the Hotel Oloffson. RAM is a Voudou Rara band that throws a legendary party every Thursday night, which I’m told is one of those absolute musts. The hotel and the grounds are very grand and huge – the hotel itself has a storied past. Understandably, the Haitians are still in mourning, so now is not the right time, but I eagerly anticipate the day I can have the experience.

Did you meet some interesting people? I got to meet a man known as the Mango Man, he works with small farmers who supply his mango-exporting business, and he was delightful and a wonderful fountain of information as to the way things work in Haiti. All of the people involved in the arts group are just really soulful people. I think the evening spent with this group was my favorite. We broke bread together, shared lots of wonderful ideas of our hopes for Haitian recovery and they taught me how to play the bongos Jean, our driver, was hilarious and a bit of a playboy– each of his girls had a different ringtone! A couple of times he would take down these back roads that were unpaved, narrow, even narrower by rubble, where we didn’t think had an outlet and inevitably we’d find ourselves back on the main road, having bypassed most of the traffic. I was really excited about getting to meet Paul Farmer. He is one of the founders of Partners in Health and is a legend for his work and dedication to the people of Haiti. His work has influenced the policies of World Health Organization for treating TB and HIV/AIDS. We also had a chance to visit Sean Penn’s operation and I came away deeply moved by his passion and commitment, both in the immediate and the long-term. I was tremendously inspired by the Dean of Haiti’s Quisqueya University Jacky Lumarque. The university is considered to be the best in Haiti and was completely demolished by the quake just as it was about to open. Post-quake, when many foreign universities offered to take in his students the Dean said, “The University is here, it is people, not buildings. It is in our hearts and minds.” The students are currently volunteering in Haiti and getting hands-on experience across sectors such as medical, psycho-social, education and child development.

What did you learn about Haiti? I learned that Haiti is a country that grabs you and doesn’t let go. I felt it, and in all of the reading I’ve done in the last week, about various artists, even in a National Geographic article from the 30s, there it is time and again – Haiti over the years has caught the imagination and hearts of so many people. image

What would you leave us with? Early in the trip, I came across a work of graffiti depicting Haiti crying as she’s asking for help. I later learned that this was the handiwork of a young man named Jerry, a man that was behind much of the graffiti around the city. After doing some research on him, I discovered a really cool collaboration that he’s participating in with a NYC arts professor named Pedro Lasche. Anyone in the international community can send a message to the Haitians in Port au Prince that will be interpreted into a work of graffiti by Jerry, for $25. I just think it’s a really cool initiative. In the same vein, the upcoming NY ArtExpo, which is running from March 25 to the 28, has given a booth to a group of Haiti-based art galleries for the duration. All proceeds from this booth will go to support the rebuilding of the Centre D’Art in Haiti. The Centre D’Art was instrumental in building international interest in Haitian art in the 1940s. My understanding is the booth will carry a wide array of Haitian art, so please go find yourself a new favorite artist and support the preservation and restoration of Haiti’s cultural heritage! And finally, I ask that people support the development of a watchdog group, which will hold the many, many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Haiti accountable for the money, which at last count amounted to $3.8 billion dollars, raised for relief and rebuilding. It is time for organizations operating in Haiti to be vetted, to be transparent and to be coordinated and organized so that efforts and funds are not squandered. The Haitians have a right to know where this money is going.

Groups Cinema Under the Stars: This group has been screening films in the camps, sometimes working in partnership with international groups. Friends of FOKAL: Implements a variety of programs aimed at supporting the development of children and the young, youth organizations, youth civil society associations, the peasants and women’s organizations. They are partnered with libraries all over Haiti, and provide cultural programming and activities. Haiti Aid Watchdog: This group is working to independently track the impact of the relief and humanitarian efforts in Haiti, facilitate communication among partners, encourage the Haitian population to play a more active role in this initiative and ensure that the majority of the Haitian people really benefit from this aid.

Where Celebs Go Out: America Ferrera, Harvey Keitel, Hope Davis

At the premiere of Our Family Wedding:

● AMERICA FERRERA – “My favorite restaurant of the moment is Broadway East, on the Lower East Side.” ● CHARLIE MURPHY – “I’ve been going to this Mexican restaurant in New Jersey. I think it’s called El Torito, whatever. That’s one of them. I go to so many restaurants. This is what I want to explain, so no one’s insulted. I’m on the road 48 weeks of the year in different towns, and I go to a lot of restaurants, so to ask me what my favorite restaurant is, is kind of a hard question to answer. I like going to Baja Fresh in L.A.” ● GRETCHEN ROSSI – “In Newport Beach, it’s Flemings. It’s a steakhouse, and I eat the steak and potatoes and everything that you can imagine on the menu. But I just eat small portions, so that you get a taste of everything.”

● LANCE GROSS – “I love Tao here in New York. I don’t get to New York a lot, but the Cafeteria. I love the Cafeteria. I do all the nightclubs. I don’t even know the names. I just go into them.” ● REGINA KING – “Right now, I’m really loving Osteria Mozza in L.A., Mario Batali’s restaurant. It’s so funny because where he opened was a place in L.A. that there’s been four restaurants that tried to make it there; came; spent a lot of money; closed down. And he has been booming, banging with business, and rightfully so. So, if you go and get the oxtail ragu — oh, my God! Hah! It is so good, and mmmm, the pizza next door is even better, because it’s Nancy Silverton from La Brea Bakery making the dough. I love to eat, clearly.” ● PRAS – “Geez! Right now it’s gotta be Dylan Prime. That’s in my neighborhood. Every time I’m out of town, I always take a trip back to Dylan. I feel like I’ve landed back home. Do you like steak? I love — I’m a big meat eater, despite all the things they tell you about eating charred beef.”

At the opening of A Behanding in Spokane on Broadway:

● HARVEY KEITEL – “A candy store in Brighton Beach, in Brooklyn. It was called Ali Baba & the 40 Thieves.” ● ANTHONY MACKIE – “Hey, book that is black! I love to go down to STK. One of my very favorite restaurants is Three Sisters, on Madison and 124th — the best Caribbean food you can find in New York. ● JENNIFER MORRISON – “I have had no chance to discover that yet because we just opened last night. Where in L.A.? I love Madeo restaurant. We eat there all the time. Dan Tana’s, some of the usual spots. I’m a huge fan of spaghetti and meat sauce. It’s my weakness, anywhere I go.” ● ZOE KAZAN – “I love your magazine! I haven’t been going to a lot of bars or clubs lately. I’ve been going to theater hangouts, like the West Bank Cafe or Bar Centrale. In my neighborhood, I love Buttermilk Channel, which is a restaurant in Cobble Hill or Frankie’s 457. I like the fried chicken at Buttermilk Channel.” ● MARTIN MCDONAGH – “Angus McIndoe.” ● HUGH JACKMAN – “Oh, c’mon!”

● DANA IVEY – “I don’t want to give it away ’cause too many people will go there. I don’t want to say because it’ll be infiltrated by everybody, and I won’t get a seat! No, but Joe Allen’s is always good. That’s one of my faves. Oh, they have this great, great salad that I really, really like — trevisano, something, I can’t remember, but that’s what I get every time.” ● HOPE DAVIS –Buttermilk Channel in Brooklyn.” ● JOAN HAMBURG – “You mean in this neighborhood? I love to go to Orso’s. Oh, I like a lot of places. I like Blue Hill downtown. I got a list!” ● SARAH PAULSON – “One of them is a secret. I don’t want anybody else to know about it, so I won’t talk about that place. I love a place called Café Cluny, on 12th Street and West 4th Street, down in the Village. Any favorite dish? The burger and the Cluny. It’s a giant martini, which is always really good. I’m, kind of, like a person who only goes to places that are in the neighborhood I happen to be standing in, in the moment, which is what’s so great about New York — you’re bound to turn around and hit something great.” ● MARCIA GAY HARDEN – “Oh, God, we never go out. Honestly, we don’t go out. Our living room, our kitchen, our dining room. What about in L.A.? Oh, God, I wouldn’t say L.A. before New York! I couldn’t possibly say L.A. before New York. Okay, wait! We like Settepani in Harlem. We love Orso. We love Orso.” ● STACY KEACH – “It’s a tough one, isn’t it? There’s so many. Joe’s restaurant in Venice. Everything is good, but I, particularly, like steak ‘n eggs, yeah. In New York, there’s so many wonderful restaurants, and we just got here. And every time I come back to New York, I discover new places, so I’m hesitant to give you names of places.” ● PABLO SCHREIBER – “The old standards are the — what’s the place over here on 46th where we go after the show? It’s right above Joe Allen’s. Yeah, I, always forget the name of it ’cause they have no sign. [That would be Bar Centrale. -ed] That’s my favorite place for after-dinner drinks. I went to a great Greek restaurant last night, called Molyvos, on 7th Avenue between 55th and 56th. That place was pretty delicious. I had the whole fish. It was a black sea bass, and they did it perfectly. I’m a father of a 16th-month-old kid, so I don’t get out much these days.” ● DAVID HYDE PIERCE – “No, I don’t have any. I don’t have a lot of places to talk about like that.” ● LILY RABE – “I love Maialino. It’s in the Gramercy Park Hotel. It just opened. It’s amazing. Yes, it’s really good. And I love Café Cluny. Morandi. Those are my favorite places to eat. And the Breslin is also really incredible. The Breslin has this pork belly that’s one of the most memorable things I’ve ever eaten in the city.” ● JULIE TAYMORE –Craft, Maialino, Bobby Flay’s restaurant Mesa Grill.” ● TOM WAITS – “Oh, gee, I eat at home. I eat at home.” ● PAUL DANO – “Eton’s — it’s a dumpling place in Brooklyn. Po. Franny’s — all Brooklyn.” ● ANTHONY ANDERSON – “I really don’t hang out much in New York because of the work schedule that we have. But when I do, I find myself having a drink at Tillman’s. My favorite eatery would have to be Abe & Arthur’s.” ● GRIFFIN DUNNE – “I’m mostly upstate these days, so I’ve got little holes up there that I hit, in Duchess County. What do I want to plug? Gigi’s, an Italian restaurant — very, very good. I think that’s in Rhinebeck, yeah.”

Where Celebs Go Out: Harvey Keitel, Anthony Mackie, Marcia Gay Harden, Jennifer Morrison

1. Harvey Keitel at the opening of A Behanding in Sokane on Broadway: “A candy store in Brighton Beach, in Brooklyn. It was called Ali Baba & the 40 Thieves.” 2. Anthony Mackie: “Hey, book that is black! I love to go down to STK. One of my very favorite restaurants is Three Sisters, on Madison and 124th — the best Caribbean food you can find in New York. 3. Jennifer Morrison: “I have had no chance to discover that yet because we just opened last night. Where in L.A.? I love Medeo Restaurant. We eat there all the time. Dan Tana’s, some of the usual spots. Any favorite dishes? I’m a huge fan of spaghetti and meat sauce. It’s my weakness, anywhere I go, so …”

4.Zoe Kazan: “I love your magazine! I haven’t been going to a lot of bars or clubs lately. I’ve been going to theater hangouts, like the West Bank Cafe or Bar Centrale. In my neighborhood, I love Buttermilk Chanel, which is a restaurant in Cobble Hill or Frankie’s 457. I like the fried chicken at Buttermilk Chanel.” 5. Martin McDonagh: “Angus McAndoes.” 6. Hugh Jackman: “Oh, c’mon!” 7. Dana Ivey: “I don’t want to give it away ’cause too many people will go there. I don’t want to say because it’ll be infiltrated by everybody, and I won’t get a seat! No, but Joe Allen’s is always good. That’s one of my faves. Oh, they have this great, great salad that I really, really like — trevisano, something, I can’t remember, but that’s what I get every time.” 8. Hope Davis: “Buttermilk Channel in Brooklyn.” 9. Joan Hamburg: “You mean in this neighborhood? I love to go to Orso’s. Oh, I like a lot [of places]. I like Blue Hill downtown. I got a list!” 10. Sarah Paulson: “One of them is a secret. I don’t want anybody else to know about it, so I won’t talk about that place. I love a place called Cafe Cluny, on 12th Street and West 4th Street, down in the Village. Any favorite dish? The burger and the Cluny. It’s a giant martini, which is always really good. I’m, kind of, like a person who only goes to places that are in the neighborhood I happen to be standing in, in the moment, which is what’s so great about New York — you’re bound to turn around and hit something great.” 11. Marcia Gay Harden: “Oh, God, we never go out. Honestly, we don’t go out. Our living room, our kitchen, our dining room. What about in L.A.? Oh, God, I wouldn’t say L.A. before New York! I couldn’t possibly say L.A. before New York. Okay, wait! We like Settepani in Harlem. We love Orso. We love Orso.” 12. Stacy Keech: “It’s a tough one, isn’t it? There’s so many. Joe’s restaurant in Venice [California]. Everything is good, but I, particularly, like steak ‘n eggs, yeah. In New York, there’s so many wonderful restaurants, and we just got here. And every time I come back to New York, I discover new places, so I’m hesitant to give you names of places.” 13. Pablo Schreiber: “The old standards are the — what’s the place over here on 46th where we go after the show? It’s right above Joe Allen’s. Yeah, I, always forget the name of it ’cause they have no sign. [Bar Centrale] That’s my favorite place for after-dinner drinks. I went to a great Greek restaurant last night, called Molyvos, on 7th Avenue between 55th and 56th. That place was pretty delicious. I had the whole fish. It was a black sea bass, and they did it perfectly. I’m a father of a 16th-month-old kid, so I don’t get out much these days.” 14. David Hyde Pierce: “No, I don’t have any. I don’t have a lot of places to talk about like that.” 15. Lily Rabe: “I love Maialino. It’s in the Gramercy Park Hotel. It just opened. It’s amazing. Yes, it’s really good. And I love Cafe Cluny. Morandi. Those are my favorite places to eat. And The Breslin is also really incredible. And the Breslin has this pork belly that’s one of the most memorable things I’ve ever eaten in the city.” 16. Julie Taymor: “Craft, Maialino, Bobby Flay’s restaurant, Mesa Grill.” 17. Tom Waits: “Oh, gee, I eat at home. I eat at home.” 18. Paul Dano: “Eton’s– it’s a dumpling place in Brooklyn. Po; Franny’s — all Brooklyn.” 19. Anthony Anderson: “I really don’t hang out much in New York because of the work schedule that we have. But when I do, I find myself having a drink at Tillman’s. My favorite eatery would have to be Abe & Arthur’s.” 20.Griffin Dunne: “I’m mostly upstate these days, so I’ve got little holes up there that I hit, in Duchess County. What do I want to plug? Gigi’s, an Italian restaurant — very, very good. I think that’s in Rhinebeck, yeah.”

Liveblogging the Ace Hotel Lobby

This morning I am rapping at you from the tech-biz-media hotness that is the Ace Hotel lobby. While I will not be exploring the venue’s dude-catching potential, I will spend the day here and report on the doings of New York’s aspirational officeless class. I will drink the coffees, eavesdrop on the conversations, and attempt to draw Ron Jeremy into a live chat if he ever comes down from his alleged room. Check back on this post all day for pulse-pounding updates until it becomes boring or I am thrown out.

10am – This place is buzzing already. I would guess that 10% or less of the inhabitants are hotel guests, judging by how everyone keeps asking for the wifi password (freely given at the registration desk, no questions asked). A cool bald guy at my table was just joined by a cool chick and they are about to do a cool conference call. Laptop count: 9. Free table space: 2. Empty couches: 1. Seated population: 29. Foursquare population: 1.

10:24am – Michael Orell is here.

11am – Michael has left. We had a nice salesy conversion. Go look at one of the things he’s working on at Crushable. Morning rush is over and the dilleatantes have moved on, replaced by people with heads down over screens, doin’ computers. Someone nearby just mentioned Tumblr. Laptop count: 18. Free table space: 2. Empty couches: 2. Seated population: 27. Foursquare population: 2.

11:25am – Wow, this place is absolutely packed. My table is now totally mobbed, and various lost souls are wandering, sadly, looking for a place to roost. No room at this inn at all for workers, loungers, drinkers or anyone else. Not sure what to do for lunch since I’m loathe to give up my precious chair. Will someone feed me?

11:40am – Thinking Breslin for lunch. Something about this cold, wet weather makes me hungry for a steaming platter of entrails.

11:55am – When one of the people left my table, the guy who wedged himself in next to me opened up … a newspaper? What the hell? Get your analog media experience over to the Natural History Museum, pal. Meanwhile, an intern just talked about enduring a focus group for Chanel. She was paid some money and she is happy.

11:58am – Some people were run off from our table by a server. Not sure why? They had been here as long as me, even a little longer, and had ordered coffee. I have yet to order anything but have so far been unmolested. Perhaps it’s my naturally foreboding demeanor. Much as I am leaning toward pork scratchings and tongue sammiches for lunch, I fear I’ll never get a seat back for the afternoon if I go hunting for food now.

12:02pm – First cocktail order! Guy sat down across from me, popped open his laptop, flagged down a server, and ordered some kinda scotch, neat. Bravo sir.

12:37 – Ordered lobby lunch, no need to Breslinize. Porkslap Pale Ale arrives first, is confirmed as tasty. At least three different people lurking in corners on Important Phone Calls. Laptop count: 29. Free table space: 2. Empty couches: 0. Seated population: 50. Foursquare population: 2.

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1:08pm – Post lunch and second beer, productivity is flagging. The Ace lobby is still generally abuzz and basically SRO, with more conversatin’ going on among the laptop drones. I believe Neat Scotch Guy and myself are among the few already drinking though.

1:34pm – Perfidious internet connection! Almost nothing accomplishable in the last half hour. Are they throttling bandwidth on all us lobby leeches? Hardly fair. I just paid $16 for a ham and cheese sandwich, I deserve some free internets. Or rather, I am now obligated to pay $16 for a ham and cheese sandwich, which I ate. I’m not alone in my sorrow. Lots of blank staring at laptops and uncomfortable shifting in chairs. The action never stops!

2:20pm – Defeat! After an hour-plus of crap connections, I’m forced to retreat to more welcoming internet climes. Sorry Ace, you were fun while you lasted. No wonder so many chairs were opening up by the time I bailed.

Unlock BlackBook’s Nightlife Badge on Foursquare!

In partnership with the aspirationally driven folks at HBO’s How to Make It in America, we’re proud to offer you the chance to achieve a personal gold standard by unlocking the exclusive BlackBook Nightlife badge on Foursquare. Make HTMIIA your Foursquare friend, then check into any 3 of 20 possible New York nightlife or dining destinations (restaurants are the new nightlife, you know), and you’ll get the shiny new Foursquare badge pictured here. Soon we may provide an even more material motivation to have fun with this, but for now, download the BlackBook Guide iPhone app and start hitting the hotspots. Complete list of eligible joints after the jump.

Allen & Delancey Apothéke Balthazar Boom Boom Room The Breslin Butter Coffee Shop Craft Daniel Elmo Japonais Macao Trading Co. Matsuri Morimoto Norwood Pegu Club Per Se Soho House The Spotted Pig Tenjune

Industry Insiders: Lulzim Rexhepi, Craftsmanship at Kittichai

Lulzim Rexhepi spent time in some of the world’s top kitchens before taking over for Executive Chef Ian Chalmerkittichai at 60 Thompson’s Kittichai . From the Mandarin Oriental in Switzerland and the Blue Water Grill to the Four Seasons Hotel and Icon at the W Hotel and Xing, Chef “Lou” has endured every type of culinary experience to help him keep Kittichai’s flavor booming.

Typical day: I come in, I check my email, I go over manager’s log, and go through Grub Street to see what’s happening in the restaurant world. I walk through the kitchen. First I stop by the butcher station to make sure everything came in properly. I’ll walk through where the cooks are cooking and make sure everyone is using the right product at the right time, make sure everything is fresh. Then I get ready for service.

Favorite kitchen: Working at Icon with Chef Paul Sale. I was on the cusp of being a sous-chef and he really showed me how to take it to the next level. He taught me so many important lessons about cooking. The people I worked with before that were really mean, non-stop-yelling chefs, and he was very laid back, very cool, and we still got the same amount of production. He just taught me a whole different style in the kitchen. It doesn’t need to be that old-school mentality. It can still be an amazing kitchen.

On getting along with the old boss: Chef Ian and I have a great relationship. We still email. He’s mostly in Thailand. He pretty much lets me do the menu the way I want. The only difference is that I have to take a step back and tweak my own mistakes. Whereas before I had him to ask, “What do you think of this?” That’s really the only difference. Of the ten ideas I get in a day, maybe three of them are like “wow” if I’m lucky. So I definitely need the back and forth with him.

Go-to menu items: My favorite drink is the Muddled Grape with coconut water and grapes. It’s really refreshing, really nice. I absolutely love the Whole Fish. We dust it in rice flour, lightly fry it and we serve it with a lesser-ginger curry. It has an earthy flavor and a nice spice. It takes curry to a slightly higher level. I also just put a lobster dish on the menu that I love. It’s cooked three different ways and we serve it just like that with a little suki-yaki sauce, which is a Thai fondue sauce.

On being in a Thai kitchen: Kittichai is the first Thai restaurant I ever worked in. When the Tsunami thing happened, I went to Thailand with Ian to do a fundraiser at the Four Seasons, and I wound up staying for a long time, trying street food and exploring. I get along well with my peers, though. I come from a modest background. When they come in the room I’m no longer the chef, I look at them eye to eye, call them “chef.” My parents did a really good job of teaching me, and I’ll be a culinary student until the day I die.

On getting a tough table: Give a hundred bucks to the manager. I’m joking. Because I’m never sure when I’m going to be off, I hardly ever make reservations and I don’t go to places and say, “Oh I’m the chef at Kittichai, give me a table.” I’m very polite, and if I have to wait a half hour at a place I want to eat, I do it. When a host has 80 people waiting for tables, if you walk in and you’re demanding, you’re not getting a table. It never hurts to compliment what the host is wearing.

Go-to joints: I like Macao. I like the bar chef there as far as drinks go. I go up to Thom Bar and have a cocktail with my buddies. I just had a great dinner at The Breslin and I think April Bloomfield is doing some cool stuff.

Guilty pleasure: I sneak behind pastry counter and eat these mekong whiskey chocolate truffles that we make. I can’t get enough. They’re ridiculous. I’ve got a lot of bad habits—I get worked up easy. When I’m in the kitchen, I’ll explode for a second, and then I’ll take a deep breath and get better.

Anatomy of a Scene: The Ace Hotel

It’s an unseasonably warm Thursday afternoon in January and a menagerie of bright blue construction equipment is wallowing in the sunlight of 29th and Broadway, where a big, high pasture of plywood now wraps around the entire street corner. The Ace Hotel is taking over.

The Ace, the first East Coast outpost of the buzzworthy Portland hotel mini-chain, has become the centerpiece of a neighborhood that enthusiastic developers have awkwardly dubbed both “NoMad” (North of Madison Square Park) and “SoMa” (South of Macy’s, in a nod to the dotcom-heavy San Francisco district of the same name) with little success. Those who have office space here might say they’re based in Chelsea, the Flatiron, or even the Garment District, so as to avoid the unpleasantness of admitting that they work in the dreary expanse to the southeast of Penn Station. But for the people who have colonized the Ace’s lobby from early morning through late night, that’s part of the charm. “I mean, look at the area it’s in. You walk outside and there’s some guy trying to sell you suitcases for five bucks,” says Remington Guest (“Yes, that’s my real name,” he adds), a dapper 21-year-old from Hoboken who’s made the Ace into a second home. The CUNY Baruch undergrad, who is employed at the edgy Tribeca fashion outlet Opening Ceremony and also works as a model, is seated this afternoon on the end of one of the worn-out crimson velvet couches that fill the back of the hotel lobby. Guest, who has shown up to the Ace today wearing a dark green-and-blue striped oxford artfully half-buttoned over a thermal shirt and accessorized with a plaid neck scarf, says he first found out about the Ace in October “from one of the trillion blogs I read. “He was already familiar with the neighborhood because a half dozen modeling agencies are headquartered within a few blocks, he stopped by. “It’s in such a surprising area,” he says. “It was like a hidden bar in itself.” The Ace, arguably, is the neighborhood now. It’s already home to Spotted Pig sibling restaurant The Breslin, which is decorated to stuff the arteries of well-moneyed Chicago slaughterhouse barons, and the compact and sunlit Stumptown Coffee Roasters, whose young staff appear in a uniform of tweed fedoras and forearm tattoos. Soon, they’ll be joined by an array of attractions rarely seen this side of Las Vegas Boulevard: a sub shop run by No. 7‘s Tyler Kord, a branch of Opening Ceremony (much to Guest’s delight), and the much-talked-about basement bar, which either has a Tin Pan Alley theme or a vintage boxing theme or maybe both. But the heart of the Ace beats in the lobby, with its Ivy League reading-room tables, a bar serving up Old Fashioneds and the cult favorite Porkslap Pale Ale, a vintage-style photobooth, and a massive, tattered American flag on the wall. There’s something very college-common-room about it (minus the pajamas): On any given day you might run into packs of MacBook-toting Internet entrepreneurs, professorial 40-somethings chatting over Stumptown lattes (yes, Malcolm Gladwell’s been spotted there), disheveled hipsters dreamily scribbling in Moleskine notebooks, the occasional legitimate celebrity (Tobey Maguire! Ethan Hawke!) or a collective of graphic designers gathered around the end of the long table, their colorful samples spilling out of satchels on the floor. You might forget that it’s actually a hotel, and wonder why that family with German accents is sitting around looking at an upside-down MTA subway map. Ugh, they’re taking up a choice spot next to the taxidermied badgers. The Ace regulars — Acers? Aceheads? Acicles?– greet the constant bustle with a giddy curiosity, expecting something even cooler to be just around the corner. At the same time, they’re concerned about the hotel’s continuing buzz and what it’ll do to their secret clubhouse. Like a school cafeteria, the cliques of the Ace don’t necessarily adore one another. “There’s so many laptops,” Remington Guest says, sipping from a cup of green tea. “[Once] I was sitting at the middle table and there was a guy playing Starcraft.”

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One man who can usually be found in the Ace lobby with his laptop — a PC, not a Mac — is Charlie O’Donnell, entrepreneur-in-residence at venture capital firm First Round Capital. O’Donnell, 30, boasts the distinction of being the “mayor” of the Ace Hotel on mobile networking service Foursquare, a title given to the person who “checks in” to a given venue the most frequently (on BlackBook’s own iPhone app, for example … Guest, also a Foursquare user, says he’s made it a goal to oust O’Donell as mayor.) In November, O’Donnell wrote a blog post called “Will the Ace Hotel embrace the innovation community?” in which he detailed the Ace lobby’s emergence as a social hub for the local tech-entrepreneur scene, and wondered whether the hotel would start to crack down on their presence, considering they are technically taking up seating and hogging the Wi-Fi. They didn’t, and several months later, O’Donnell’s still there almost every day. But the Ace’s daytime set isn’t entirely sold on the after-work crowd that waltzs in every evening. Speaking of a recent Saturday night, Guest says warily, “There was a line out the door, with bouncers. I didn’t even know they did that here.” He doesn’t spend much time at the Ace after dark, preferring its daytime scene–particularly in the morning, when most of the laptops haven’t yet flickered on. By the late afternoon, Guest says, “it’s an obvious shift. The lights go completely dim. They bring candles out, and light them up. Some people with laptops stay, but they start drinking.” In the late evening hours, I receive a text message from a friend — let’s call him Jesse. A 27-year-old digital advertising professional who lives in Williamsburg and is meticulously up-to-speed on the latest in the local music scene, Jesse is the prototypical Acehead. You’ll find him there during the day, sure, but he’s also keen to be part of its after-hours cabal. “Do u still have an ace hotel room key from when u stayed there?” Jesse texts me, referring to a time several months ago when, in between apartments, I’d nabbed once of the Ace’s “bunk bed” rooms to share with an out-of-town friend. A great deal by Manhattan standards, assuming you like the summer-camp vibe. I text him back. I tell him I might still have the key around; I’m a pack rat, after all. But I want to know: why does he want it? When Jesse replies, it’s a text message tinged with that breed of male frustration unique to the wrong side of a Manhattan velvet rope: “Because it’s getting popular to a point where guys needed one to get in.”