Cool, trendy, en vogue are all words that you could associate with the Ace Hotel brand. Founded in Portland, Oregan in 1999 by Alex Calderwood, you’ll be surprised that the Ace name is already over 15 years’ old, given that it has never once seemed to slip out of fashion. Post launch, Ace Hotel’s unconventional approach to hospitality – quirky furniture, original artwork and miss-matching fittings – soon spread like wild fire.
Now new properties have gone on to open in Los Angeles, New York, Palm Springs, Seattle, Portland, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Panama, and the hotly-anticipated London property marked Ace’s debut outside of the US. Chris Penn has been a fundamental part of this UK growth and spearheaded the team at Ace Hotel London Shoreditch as it made its mark on the capital’s hospitality market.
The 258-bedroom property opened in September 2013, just when Chris joined from his role as general manager at Flemings Mayfair, and the hotel was instantly a hit with the creative community of Shoreditch. A key part of the hotel’s structure, and one of the reasons it ticks so many boxes, is the way it has transformed the whole perception of a traditional hotel lobby. Ace Hotel has become a major hub for its local community, opening up its public spaces to be used for interactive activities, alongside its restaurant, three bars, coffee shop, three retail outlets, a nightclub and 10 meeting rooms.
Prior to Chris’s role at Flemings, he was hotel manager at The Cavendish, resident manager at The Stafford London and kicked off his career at Historic Hotels’ Hartwell House. Now he leads a team of 240 at Ace Hotel London Shoreditch, who he describes as ‘a disparate pack of 240 inspired, creative and passionate humans’. Early last year, he scooped the Extra Mile Award at The Cateys, for swimming the Channel and raising more than £11,000 for Hospitality Action.
In an interview with The Caterer, Chris Penn said: “Innovation is thinking of how you can do something differently and making it better.
“I hope to learn, evolve, disrupt and challenge, because it provides excitement and fun. I’m in an industry that enables me to do things that link to my talents and have a lot of fun at the same time.”