See the former Ace hotel's facelift and behind-the-scenes overhaul by Lore Group

16 February 2022 by

Ace hotel has grown up into metropolitan hotel One Hundred Shoreditch. See the facelift and behind-the-scenes overhaul by the Lore Group.

The creation of One Hundred Shoreditch marks something of a coming of age for a hotel that first made its mark when it opened nine years ago as the hipster hotspot that operated under the Ace hotel brand.

"If you think of Ace as appealing to the single guy who wanted somewhere to crash, well now he has matured and is looking to move in to somewhere more comfortable with his partner," says David Taylor, chief executive of Lore Group, the owner and operator of the 258-bedroom property that is set to open its door to guests on 1 March, following a £20m renovation.

While there is much about One Hundred Shoreditch that is recognisable from its previous life – the configuration of the interior, for instance, is largely the same – the initial change to hit you is the improvement of the hotel's kerb appeal. This has been achieved by the addition of oriel windows to the bedrooms overlooking Shoreditch High Street, which, as well as making a positive difference to the somewhat austere-looking 18-year-old building, originally known as the Saint Gregory hotel before morphing into a Crowne Plaza property and then Ace hotel, also provides some added space to the rooms in question.

"The new windows were definitely the biggest challenge of the refurbishment, alongside all the issues we had around the supply of materials due to the pandemic," explains Lore Group's creative director Jacu Strauss.

The other major aesthetic transformation can be seen in the bedrooms which, as Taylor alludes to, previously reflected the frenetic crash pad of a university student with its futon-style bed, denim-look patchwork quilt, wall-hung guitar and retro record-player complete with selection of analogue albums. Now, the vibe is calmer and more relaxed, successfully providing an antidote to the busyness of the public spaces. A bed adorned with nothing more than fresh white linens, accompanied by Berber carpets, a pop of colour from some abstract wall art and the aroma of fresh eucalyptus has resulted in a space that is more grown up than what went before.

"The bedrooms and suites are designed as retreats, providing our guests headspace and calm, thus allowing them to disconnect from the outside world," explains Taylor.

Creating One Hundred Shoreditch has been the key focus for Taylor since arriving at Lore Group in April 2020. He initially joined the company as chief operating officer before his recent promotion to chief executive following the departure of predecessor Billy Skelli-Cohen.

Global reach

Lore Group was largely unknown within the UK hotel sector until 2019, when it was announced that the company would take over the direct operation of the 359-bedroom Sea Containers London hotel, on the South Bank. The building, which combines office space with the hotel (previously managed by SBE Entertainment Group under the Mondrian brand) is part of the extensive property portfolio owned by Lore's parent company, Global Holdings Management Group, headed by its founder, Israeli-born, multi-billionaire Eyal Ofer.

Today Lore Group comprises four independently operated hotels: the two in London (One Hundred Shoreditch and Sea Containers) two in Washington DC (Riggs and Lyle) and Pulitzer Amsterdam. It also has a franchised property, Kimpton De Witt in Amsterdam, and a share in Soho House, also in Amsterdam. Joining Lore has enabled Taylor to step back into a role that he loves and thrives on: creating new cutting-edge concepts and overseeing their operation. His past successes have included launching the ground-breaking London Edition and then the Principal collection of vibrant city centre hotels, which led to him being awarded the title of Hotelier of the Year in 2018. However, the sale of Principal to French investor Covivio and his subsequent appointment as vice-president – UK operations at InterContinental Hotels, which was appointed the operator of the Principal portfolio and took him into a corporate environment overseeing 18 hotels, was never going to satisfy his creative skills.

At Lore, Taylor is able to use his vision in identifying what is required from a certain location and any given time to create each hotel. While the company bought the Shoreditch property from an affiliate of Starwood Capital in 2015 off an asking price of £150m, it wasn't until 2020 that it decided to end the management agreement that was in place with the US-based Ace brand and directly operate the hotel itself.

Working on One Hundred Shoreditch has brought Taylor back to the area where he spent six years from 2006 as general manager of the original Hoxton hotel, a lifestyle hotel which brought something fresh and new to the sector. Then Shoreditch was in the early stages of its gentrification, which over the years has seen demand grow as a location where people want to stay, whether it be for the expanding leisure opportunities in the area or for work reasons tied to the creative and technology industries on the doorstep or the financial sector a stone's throw away in the City.

While Taylor recognises the culture of working five days a week may no longer exist, he is buoyed by the fact that the creative industries are keen to have their staff together again. "Teams can't really work creatively if its members are working in different locations," he says. Also positive is the trend seen at Sea Containers of people who have moved out of London booking rooms for two or three nights a week as there is now the need for them to be back in the city, at least part of the time.

Beauty behind the scenes

A considerable chunk of the investment in One Hundred Shoreditch has gone into improving unseen back of house services, such as an updated air conditioning system, new IT cabling and building management system, and the addition of a rear service corridor to improve internal logistics and noise reduction for neighbouring properties. A new kitchen and bar equipment have also been installed.

With a consideration towards sustainability, as many elements of the fixtures and fittings of Ace have been retained where possible. A communal table in the lobby has been kept, for instance, as has the seating and wooden panelling in the restaurant and the shelving system in the bedrooms. "We've celebrated the beautiful bones of what came before, while beautifying those elements that needed it," says Strauss, who originally worked for Tom Dixon Studio when it designed the interiors of Sea Containers before heading up the in-house design team at Lore.

"We wanted to achieve a design that was meaningful and reflected a grown-up Shoreditch," he says. "It is therefore intended to be inviting and approachable, with emphasis on tactility and comfort."

As well as overseeing the look of the hotel, Strauss has also undertaken the mammoth task of personally producing 24 original pieces of abstract art for the public areas, 255 hand-painted editions of six original artworks for the bedrooms, and original paintings for the three suites, as well as designing items of furniture for the public spaces and vases that appear in all of the bedrooms.

The largely neutral interior has been enlivened by specially commissioned sculptures providing pops of colour. A totem-style piece created by Jan Hendzel adorns the lobby, while a red paper leaf installation from the Mio Gallery hangs above the Lobby bar.

Goddard & Gibbs features yellow accents to represent nostalgic childhood memories of the seaside to complement the fish menu. A balancing rock sculpture sits at the heart of the space and sand art intends to reflect the beach. Meanwhile, the Rooftop bar with views of Shoreditch and wider London skyline, features hints of soft pink within a conservatory setting dominated by a profusion of foliage in terracotta pots. The bar here is accompanied by a private dining room and event space, the One Hundred Room, where a vintage parachute covers one wall.

Taylor hopes that the hotel will offer "an independent spirit at the social heart of evolving Shoreditch". It is an ethos he intends to take forward in other locations on behalf of Lore Group as it looks to expand in key global cities in the US and Europe. "I could easily see us reach 10 or so hotels in the coming years," he says, confirming that he intends to be in his current role for the long term.

Building the One Hundred Shoreditch team

With the UK hospitality industry facing the biggest recruitment challenge since records began, it is a major achievement for One Hundred Shoreditch to open with a nearly full complement of employees of around 200.

"We received some 17,000 applications and are now short of just one or two chefs," says Holly Watson, regional director of people and culture, who oversaw the recruitment programme.

So how has the hotel been so successful in attracting staff while so many other businesses are struggling? A vibrant social media campaign on LinkedIn involving story-telling, a strong community feel and a diverse culture kicked-off the process. Videos featuring key members of staff, running from October through to December, was followed by an informal and personal appointment system.

"We focused on calling everyone and regarded it as a failure if we did not contact potential recruits within three days of receiving an application, as we knew we could lose them," says Watson.

Around 35% of the team was recruited from outside the hospitality industry, with a significant number of individuals coming from the retail, fashion and music sectors.

A ‘refer a friend' scheme has been a positive initiative that involves the payment of £1,000 per referral, with staggered payment made over six months.

Jon Dawson, group director of people development, who joined Lore Group from his previous role as director of human resources at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London, says the key attributes the hotel looked for in a recruit were a welcoming, friendly and inclusive demeanour, confidence, good energy and a shared interest in contributing to the wider Shoreditch community.

100 Shoreditch High Street, Shoreditch, London E1 6JQ

020 7613 9800

Owner and operator Lore Group

Chief executive David Taylor

Creative director Jacu Strauss

Group director of people development Jon Dawson

Regional general manager Sérgio Leandro

Group director of good and beverage Alexander Wolf

Hotel manager Mark Heyburn

Executive chef Daniel Mcgarey

Bedrooms 258

Food and beverage Goddard & Gibbs restaurant, wine bar, rooftop bar, lobby bar, Seed Library bar, coffee shop

Starting room rate £175

Charity partners Spitalfields Crypt Trust (helping people facing homelessness and addiction) and Refuge (supporting victims of domestic violence and abuse).

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