Ace Hotels boss Alex Calderwood died in Shoreditch branch after taking a lethal drug and alcohol cocktail

Alex Calderwood

Alex Calderwood - Credit: Archant

A high-flying hotelier died alone after taking a fatal combination of alcohol and crack cocaine, an inquest heard today.

Alex Calderwood, co-founder of hotel chain Ace – a favourite for celebrities – was discovered face down on a bed surrounded by bottles of alcohol and a makeshift crack cocaine pipe at the recently opened Shoreditch branch on November 14, Poplar Coroners’ Court was told.

His business partner, Kelly Sawdon, became concerned when he failed to show up for a meeting and failed to respond to calls or messages.

Two days later, Miss Sawdon entered Mr Calderwood’s room with a master key to find him unresponsive with bottles of alcohol “littering” the room.

Emergency services were called and the 47-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene by Dr Mark Priors.

A toxicology report found he had 410mg of alcohol per 100ml of urine – more than five times the drink-drive limit – as well as traces of cocaine.

Coroner Dr William Dolman said that Mr Calderwood was known to have a history with alcohol abuse and drug taking and had been in alcohol rehab.

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Miss Sawdon admitted there had been “periods” of problems with alcohol but said he had been able to function and work. She also said she was aware that he had taken drugs “occasionally”.

On November 11 – the last night he was seen alive – Mr Calderwood had been in contact with a drug dealer known to supply class A drugs and who visited him at the hotel, the court was told.

Summing up, Dr Dolman said: “Alex Calderwood died from a combination of drug and alcohol toxicity – cocaine to name the drug. He was a man who was clearly a high-flier and whose life came to a tragic and unexpected end.”


Paying tribute, Miss Sawdon said: “We will always remember Alex as a dear friend. His life’s work will live on at Ace and through the countless individuals he inspired along the way.

“He was always very private about his personal life. We hope that everyone will respect that privacy and continue to honour his memory and creative legacy.”

Mr Calderwood launched a chain of barber shops and a popular nightclub in his hometown of Seattle before becoming a hotelier and opening the first Ace Hotel there in 1999.