So...Instagram's not hip anymore, right?
I quite like Instagram, so I'm assuming not. Everyone I know still uses it though, even in the aftermath of the 'we own your photos' copyright scandal. That's how big a brand it is - it's hardly even affected by scandals these days. I'm sure it's not long before any and all in-phone photo-editing apps will be known collectively as Instagram, in the same way that all tissues are Kleenex, and all lip balms are Chapstick.
So when I say I was instagramming at the Ace Hotel, please keep in mind that I may not have been using the brand Instagram at all. I could have been using another in-phone photo-editing app, a really cool and different one, one that you haven't heard of yet. Because I'd hate to be using an uncool app in such a cool place as the Ace.
The Ace Hotel, which lies at the corner of Broadway and 29th Street, is undoubtedly hip*. It's in a cool area. You can tell, because not so long ago this area was known as somewhere that kind of bordered the flower district. Or somewhere that was pretty close to the fashion district. Or that place in those dodgy blocks around Penn Station. It had no real name, or identity, and was to be avoided unless you wanted to buy plasticky fake hair in a shade completely unknown to nature, or a dress that pretty much fit the same descriptors.
Now, however, the area around the Ace Hotel is known as NoMad**, and houses a few good bars and restaurants. You can still buy a wig***, or watch a drug deal or two go down, but you can also drink Stumptown coffee while working, or artisanal cocktails while networking, then pop around the corner for a comfortingly overpriced and overhyped meal. You can check in to the neighbourhood and tag yourself in photos with pride, an acute sense of your surroundings, and an iron-firm grip on your phone. And you can Instagram, of course.
It's a funny area, which I say because I'm not hip enough to completely comprehend the appeal of an area where you feel slightly unsafe all the time (in fact, I'm so unhip that I have feelings such as 'unsafe'). The new developments happening there are both interesting and inevitable, given the compact size of Manhattan and the constantly- growing demand for more accommodation, and more bars, and more restaurants, and just plain more. I don't love it - although I do love the Ace Hotel, especially as an alternative workspace - but that's not what New York is about. While I love the city, the city is not designed solely around what I love.
Which should come as a relief to all those who are genuinely hip.
*Or was, until I visited, anyway.
**North of Madison (Square Park) obvs.
***Well, maybe. I always kind of think those stores are fronts for other activities, because how do you sell enough wigs in a day to pay Manhattan rents?