With international travel to Australia back on the cards, there’s no better time than the present to head down under. In Sydney, the recent arrival of the Ace Hotel, which opened in Surry Hills, is a sight for sore eyes for visitors and locals alike. Designed by the Melbourne-based Flack Studio, Ace Hotel Sydney’s warm and provocative interiors not only hark back to pre-pandemic travel, but resonate well beyond the surface level. Designed with recurring nods to the neighbourhood’s cultural history and Australia on a larger scale, the hotel brings a renewed thoughtfulness to Ace’s expert melange of creature comforts. With a lobby bar and lounge, cafe and restaurant and a hefty programme of culture, music, arts and food assembled at the ready, Ace Hotel Sydney appropriately marks the brand’s first property in the Southern Hemisphere.
Sydney’s Surry Hills may today be known for its rich cafe culture, independent boutiques and hip bar scene, but it also carries historic weight – the hotel’s site is where Australia’s first kiln was discovered, where the country’s first domestic pottery was produced in the 1820s. It subsequently became the Tyne Building, which housed a factory and distribution centre for Washington H Soul Pattinson Chemists in 1916.
In ode to this heritage, the building has preserved the warehouse’s original facade as well as other architectural features throughout the hotel. Flack Studio’s homage to what came before draws from the site’s legacy for ceramic and pottery making, the paintings by the Indigenous Australian artist Albert Namatjira and architect Robert Boyd’s book ‘The Australian Ugliness’. An ochre-red marble staircase, and the burnt orange sunken lounge on the ground floor recall the rich palette of the Australian desert, while furniture and other accents have been purposefully chosen to reflect the easygoing vibe of living in the Australian suburbs during the 1970s.
‘Ace Hotel is fueled by a love of the hyperlocal, marrying the pragmatic with the romantic, the private with the collective and the old world with the future. Nothing about the space takes itself too seriously, embracing different dichotomies, it’s grungy and polished, subtle and bold all at the same time, which is how we see Surry Hills,’ says David Flack of Flack Studio. ‘The expansive art collection spotlights and celebrates First Nations artists, and a range of stories and histories. Essentially, we wanted this to be home for the Surry Hills community while welcoming new friends.’
He adds, ‘The neighbourhood has long served as a home to the most resilient voices of modern Australia, from the razor gang wars and underground liquor trade of the 1920s and 1930s, the modernist art boon of the 1960s and through to the Gay Solidarity Group protests of the 1970s. The history of Surry Hills and the broader cinematic colour palette of Australia was the inspiration for the hotel’s look and feel, foreseeing a demand for lifestyle-driven hotels which place a greater emphasis on experience, culture and art. The creativity and renegade energy of the space are preserved through the design. Each space, public and private have been designed for activation, in turn allowing guests to experience a genuine sense of place.’
As in all Ace Hotels, the guestrooms are treated as sanctuaries. Filled with window seating, textured straw walls as well as a turntable, curated vinyl collection and a guitar for the musically inclined, each room’s eclectic design evokes a home away from home, albeit with grandiose views of Surry Hills. In contrast, the public spaces continue to be where the synergy happens. The lobby has been built for both working and socialising, and divided into a conversational lounge and a more intimate library, depending on what guests fancy. Finished off by the hotel’s restaurant, Loam, which touts a seasonal, vegetable-forward menu, Ace Hotel Sydney is set to follow in the footsteps of its fellow siblings and became a local favourite. §