There is definitely something brewing in Pittsburgh and we’re not talking about their local craft beer scene, which is on point, but something beyond that. The city, once the heart of the great American industrial expansion-turned Rust Belt heartland is in the midst of an impressive rebuild, a rebirth of its greatness. While always sporting a culture of winning sports franchises, something that actually helped the city survive during the collapse of the steel industry in the 80’s, Pittsburgh is literally on the rise and it’s an impressive sight to behold.
The question you are probably asking yourself is “Why Pittsburgh?” and yes, we were asking the exact same thing. But once we started thinking about it, it all started to fall into place. With Toronto-based small haul airline Porter running daily flights to the city and famed cool-guy hotel franchise the Ace opening a new location in Pittsburgh suburb East Liberty, we knew there was something going on and we wanted to see it.
Pittsburgh’s East Liberty is a neighbourhood on the up and up. From a mid-century boom to today’s ongoing cultural renaissance, East Liberty is a sparkling beacon of creative growth. This makes for the ideal location for the Ace Hotel’s Pittsburgh location, built-in a reclaimed heritage YMCA building. Offering up a public space that acts as a central hub, pulling in all the like-minded people in the area to eat, drink and hang out in the communal areas.
One of the main pulls for the locals, and guests alike is the hotels restaurant the Whitfield. Serving food that honours the rich and varied culinary traditions of Pittsburgh and greater Pennsylvania. The restaurant is run by Pittsburgh native Brent Young — co-founder of Brooklyn’s acclaimed butchery The Meat Hook and assisted by executive Chef Bethany Zozula and Executive Pastry Chef Casey Shively. Offering up a world-class seasonal menu showcasing locally sourced, sustainable vegetables and proteins, the restaurant serves brunch daily, and breakfast is available all day, along with lunch, dinner and late-night menus.
One of the greatest accomplishments of the Ace Hotel is its philosophy of being more than just a hotel, but rather a community fixture, a place to gather. This is most evident in the Gym, a multi-faceted space that offers up diverse event programming, activities, drinks and just a safe and welcoming place to hang with some friends. Whether it’s a DJ throwing down some beats while people play Mario Kart or chowing down on some slow-cooked smoked meats, sandwiches, soft pretzels, popcorn, pickles and pirogues — all made fresh in-house, using the best seasonal ingredients.
Lastly and perhaps most importantly for us is the Coffee Bar. Like the Ace Hotel in New York City, the Ace Pittsburgh has a coffee spot conveniently located in the hotel lobby, serving up meticulously sourced, expertly roasted coffee provided by Stumptown Coffee Roasters.
All this is fine and dandy, but a hotel is a place to stay after all, and what makes the Ace Hotel Pittsburgh a real gem is, of course, the rooms. Paying tribute Pennsylvanian regional craft, with an evolved, modern sensibility. Each room takes on traditional material cues and is furnished with an inspiring combination of vintage and custom pieces.
Designed with Brooklyn-based firm Uhuru to fabricate the larger built-in furnishings; each console, trunk, mirror and shelf was designed to neatly fit each room type. While Pittsburgh local Zac Kruszynski of Bones and All, who uses domestic hardwoods, including reclaimed and responsibly harvested lumber from regional suppliers. Kruszynski created versatile luggage rests for both storage and seating. Lastly, and probably most importantly is that the Ace once again teamed up and collaborated with Pendelton to make unique and beautiful blankets for the hotel. It’s a dream.
After our time in Pittsburgh, we can’t recommend the new Ace Hotel enough. The establishment is top-notch and truly worth the trip, the city is welcoming, friendly and rich in culture and art far exceeding our wildest expectations. If you are coming from Toronto or Southern Ontario it is well worth the drive, but if you, like us, value what little time you may actually have, we do highly recommend the quick hour flight from downtown Toronto to Pittsburgh on Porter Airlines. Book your stay at the Ace Hotel Pittsburgh now.
Images by Rob Larson & Tristan Banning