The first Ace Hotel opened in 1999. Friends Alex Calderwood, Wade Weigel, and Doug Herrick purchased and transformed a Seattle halfway house into an affordable hotel that would appeal to the creative class. Calderwood and Weigel had previously founded Rudy's, a barbershop concept they started in Seattle that eventually expanded to more than a dozen West Coast locations, and a marketing and advertising company known as "Neverstop".
In 2011, Ace Hotel collaborated with the cosmetics brand uslu airlines to create a nail polish sold in the hotels' mini bars.
In 2013, an Ace Hotel opened in the Shoreditch neighborhood of London, as well as a property in Panama by the name of "American Trade Hotel". Soon after, the Downtown Los Angeles location opened.
According to Calderwood, the style and furnishing of each Ace property is designed to reflect its location, with an eye towards re-imagining properties that are “challenged.” 
- Ace Hotel Seattle is a former Salvation Army halfway house located in the Belltown neighborhood.
- Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs, CA is a converted Howard Johnson motel, formerly a Westward Ho. King's Highway, the hotel's on-site diner, is a converted Denny's. There are two bars, the Amigo Room, and poolside, the Short Bus. The remodel was a collaboration with L.A.-based design firm, Commune.
- Ace Hotel Portland occupies the former Clyde Hotel in downtown Portland. In its former incarnation, the hotel's lobby served as the setting for a scene from the film Drugstore Cowboy. The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Ace Hotel New York worked with Roman and Williams  to redesign the former Hotel Breslin, a 1904 building in Midtown Manhattan. This location features a Stumptown Coffee and Chef April Bloomfield's  Michelin-starred The Breslin  restaurant.
- Ace Hotel London Shoreditch is in London's Shoreditch arts district, on the site of the original Shoreditch Empire music hall.
- American Trade Hotel is a restored five-story stucco building in the Casco Viejo historical district of Panama City.
- Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles opened in the historic United Artists Building, with 180 rooms and a restored United Artists Theater performance venue, in January 2014.
Calderwood had stated a goal of opening a new Ace Hotel every "one to two years." He passed away in November 2013, shortly after the opening of the London Shoreditch hotel.
In popular culture
The 2011 episode "Blunderbuss" of the sketch comedy series Portlandia had a sketch set at the "Deuce Hotel", where the obnoxiously hip staff hand out complimentary turntables and typewriters to all guests; it was a parody specifically of the Portland Ace Hotel.
- "Sunday CEO: Alex Calderwood, Ace Hotel & Swim Club". MyDesert.com - Saved by OnReference.com. 1 February 2009.
- McKeough, Tim (December 31, 2008). "Shopping With Alex Calderwood and Robin Standefer". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 4 March 2009. Retrieved March 4, 2009.
- Torline, Monica. "Aces high on pop culture", The Desert Sun, Palm Springs, 1 October 2009.
- "Ace's Sense of Place". Portland Tribune. May 29, 2007. Retrieved March 4, 2009.
- "Style & Substance". Metropolis. 22 July 2009.
- "The Breslin's Little Britain". Villagevoice.com. January 12, 2010.
- "Diet Someplace Else". Nymag.com. January 24, 2010.
- "Theatre-inspired interiors for Ace Hotel Shoreditch". Design Week. September 10, 2013.
- "Panama City Gets a Facelift and an Ace Hotel". W (magazine). November 6, 2013.
- "Alex Calderwood, Creator and Face of the Unconventional Ace Hotel Chain, Dies at 47". New York Times. November 15, 2013.
- "Blunderbuss" review, The A.V. Club, February 18, 2011
- Portlandia: Over | Flyer Wars | Deuce Hotel, Anne Adams, Portland Monthly Culturephile blog, March 1, 2011