ACE LOUNGE ALTO POOL BAR NEW ORLEANS

The Ace hotel opened in 2015 and is already the cool kid hangout in the Central Business District. Despite my propensity to roll my eyes at the newest, latest thing, I have to admit, the lounge has won me over. It feels like the living room (a very large living room) of a world traveller, decorated with art and decor collected along the way. African drums double as low tables. Plush rugs and groupings of furniture scattered across the terrazzo floor create conversational islands, which add intimacy to the cavernous room The acoustics are not conducive to romance (it’s noisy in here) but they do help make the space feel lively, even when there aren’t many people in it. The drinks are top notch; the Ace poached some quality bartenders from around town to work here, and both their original and classic drinks are spot on.

Drinks are equally solid at the rooftop pool bar, Alto. For a hotel pool, it sure draws a lot of locals, and according to several friends, it is the new place for millennials to meet both for work meetings and after work. Sounds good to me. Financial forecasts are always best discussed over a cocktail with your toes in the water. One sunny spring day, there were about fifty people at Alto, and I knew four of them Everyone had a drink. The music was lively. Though summer was several months away, it felt like we were all on vacation. One friend has noted that while the space is trendy, it doesn’t feel very familiar. Or, as he put it, “It feels like what someone in L.A. thinks New Orleans looks like.” He might have a point. The quirky-but-still-beautiful staff, in their slightly disheveled, mismatched outfits, seem too curated to be real. Pair them with a bevy of well-groomed, thin, young people cavorting around a pool, and the whole scene feels very California. Not that this is a bad thing, just not something you see ofen in New Orleans.

The pool bar isn’t as robust as that downstairs, but the staff here are as well trained as their colleagues. I ordered an Aviation off the menu and my bartender made it without blinking. I’ll be going back, for sure. No point in avoiding hanging out at a gorgeous pool for the price of a drink (a reasonable $6 at that) just because my wardrobe isn’t from H&M and I crossed forty several birthdays ago. Not with summer approaching, the prospect of an Aviation in a plastic cup, and a view few places can beat.

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