Catherine reports on her experience at the ACE DTLA and shares tips on planning a “staycation”
I love everything about staying in hotels… fresh sheets, fresh towels, a mountain of fluffy pillows, the option to order food straight to your room, the free Bible. A couple years ago I made my first trip to Palm Springs and was introduced to the ACE Hotel. I was an immediate convert to the laidback, urban cool vibe of the compound and have considered visiting new cities in order to stay at the ACE. The ACE is purposely a little undone and can feel like glamping. I was fortunate to take refuge in my sister and brother-in-law’s room at the ACE when all of us were stranded in Manhattan after Sandy hit. When I heard that they were opening up in Downtown L.A., I vowed to book a night for some personal R&R. A staycation is a mini vacation from your life, without the inconvenience of leaving your town. A solo version should be purposeful and a way for you to invest in yourself.
A solo staycation has been on my to-do list for a long time. To have an immaculate suite to myself for one night (or more) to relax on thousand-count sheets is more luxurious to me than a day at the spa. However, when I mentioned my weekend plans to people, four times out of five their first response was to ask whom I was going with. For some, the idea of staying in a hotel by yourself for pleasure is comparable to eating alone at a restaurant or going to a movie theater alone. It sounds scary, you would feel judged, you may judge people who are doing it. When you find the courage to face your fear of being alone in any situation, you have the potential to liberate yourself from the constrictions of popular opinion and discover something new about yourself. One night away from my living space filled with material possessions and the figurative weight of the current ups and downs in my life gave me refreshing perspective.
This month I have felt very impatient. I am struggling with a lot of the uncertainty that comes with your mid-twenties, and while there are times I find comfort in knowing that many, if not all, my friends are going through similar feelings, recently I have found that it’s hard to remove myself from my own headspace in order to empathize with anyone else’s situations. I have underlined the need for reflection in this new year, and I finally took my own advice and made the first step toward that by clearing my mind and accepting where I am right now and just why I feel impatient. My biggest revelation this weekend was that I can’t find answers to all of my questions, but I can make peace with learning from or letting go of those experiences.
Here’s how I spent my time at the ACE DTLA.
I entered my “medium” room and was greeted by a comfy king bed, an exposed cement ceiling, and a view of the urban Los Angeles I don’t get to enjoy from the Westside.
It was serendipitous that the weekend I chose was the same one Benjamin Millepied’s L.A. Dance Project was performing in the renovated United Artists Theater—now the Theatre at Ace Hotel. My friend Lara came along for the ride, and we stopped by the coffee bar for Stumptown Coffee and pastries before walking next door for curtain.
The architecture of the theater is beautiful and itself a sight to admire. Our seats were leather and felt brand new… something unusual for a theater and definitely didn’t go unnoticed. The company performed three short programs by three different choreographers. Each involved an elaborate visual installation that reminded us that we were not at the ballet. The dancers moved weightlessly and powerfully, and each program was captivating in its own way.
I was craving boba all day, and luck had it that there was one just five blocks away. The warm DTLA evening was perfect for the walk to Boba 7, and we were pleasantly surprised to see all of the popular restaurants on the way that we didn’t realize were so close (Umami Burger, Mo-Chica, Mas Malo, and Bottega Louie). Boba 7 ended up being a café within a hip Thai restaurant. Despite the tempting menu of creative drinks (the Linsanitea, the Barack Bobama, the Bobatella), I chose the Rose Milk Tea with boba. Lara had the PandaStyle, which was honey green tea with lychee popping boba and honey boba. Both were delicious, and I was happy to have found a new place that I would never have gone out of my way to try otherwise.
We opted to have dinner at the hotel restaurant, L.A. Chapter, and chose small plates (grilled octopus with green olive pistachio puree, sweet & spicy Brussels sprouts with pecans, wilted spinach with fried buckwheat, and a side of fries) but splurged with the cookie plate for dessert. We made an appearance at Upstairs, the poolside rooftop bar; the people watching didn’t disappoint.
I called it a night early, indulged in a long shower, slathered on a Jurlique face mask, lit my Volupsa travel candle, and slipped into the cozy Wings + Horns cotton robe “free to use during my stay.” I spent some time writing before getting smack dab in the middle of the king bed to stream Netflix.
I woke up early to order room service: ricotta pancakes with banana, berries, and honeycomb butter and an order of avocado toast with a bottle of Stumptown cold brew coffee.
After packing up and basking in the glow of a good night’s sleep and the Downtown heat beating through the windows, I closed the door to my weekend home.
Until next time, ACE.
Five Tips for Planning Your Staycation:
- Know where you want to go. Research hotels in your area, and stay in the loop about any discounts that you have access to (alumni discounts, Travelzoo, LivingSocial, weekend specials). There were times I almost settled for budget, but it wasn’t until the ACE was opening across town that I finally bit the bullet (and I’m glad I waited!).
- Know what you want to do. Just as you plan your perfect weekend, make sure you have a loose list of things you want to accomplish in the 24-48 hours… whether that’s taking a bubble bath, visiting a nearby museum, getting a massage, or taking advantage of the hotel pool or gym.
- Request an early check-in and a late check-out. If you only have a night, take advantage of your time in the space.
- Bring along little luxuries. For me, it was a travel candle, a face mask I’d been saving, and favorite pajamas. Consider your mood changers, and treat yourself.
- Embrace the alone time. Leading up to this weekend, I was inviting friends to meet me for dinner, for drinks, etc. Remember that this is about taking some “me” time, so set your curfew and be productive with your alone time. Have you wanted to reflect? Are there specific problems you want to face? Is there a book you want to read but haven’t found time to? Do you need to absolutely clear your mind? Understand what your needs are, and let your night be fully about propelling you to where you need to go.
Catherine Abalos is founder and editor of The Single Diaries.