Hotelier found dead surrounded by bottle of spirits and a make-shift crack pipe
Hotelier found dead surrounded by bottle of spirits and a make-shift crack pipe

He was a wealthy businessman who owned luxury hotels across the United States and Britain, but Alexander Calderwood's party lifestyle caught up with him.

The 47-year-old's body was found next to bottles of gin, whisky, wine and vodka, while a pipe made from a burnt brandy bottle was also found, an inquest has heard.

Mr Calderwood was found face down on his bed at Ace hotel Shoreditch, east London, last November, by his business partner Kelly Sawdon, the Daily Mail reported.

The entrepreneur was a renowned high flyer, and launched his first hotel in Seattle in 1999, then added establishments in Palm Springs, New York and London.

The inquest heard how the American businessman suffered problems with addiction and completed a stint in rehab three years ago.

"I am very proud of my sobriety," he said in 2011. "You get to a certain age, and you get to a certain point, where you realise this is just, like, dragging me down. It's not fun anymore. I'm not enjoying it."

Ace Hotels were known for their trendy decor. PHOTO: Ace Hotels

Ms Sawdon, who had known Mr Calderwood for about 11 years, recalled him being happy he was back in London.

"We arranged to meet on the 12th but he didn't turn up so I attempted to make contact with him over the next few days," she said.

"By Thursday morning (the 14th) I was concerned so I tried to meet him again. I went up to his room and knocked and was trying to call him but after about five or ten minutes I opened the door with a master key.

"I saw him lying at the foot of the bed facing the door so I raced down the stairwell to get the general manager. It was very distressing. It was a shocking surprise."

A post-mortem was conducted which found Mr Calderwood had been dead for more than a day or so, and "no evidence of assault or injury and no needle marks caused by intravenous drug abuse".

Mr Calderwood helped establish hotels across the US and Britain. PHOTO: Ace Hotels

The court heard how on November 11, Mr Calderwood met a man at the Red Church bar in east London. The man has since been arrested and is on bail for possession with intent to supply class A drugs.

"There had been previous telephone contact with the man", detective Paul Ridley said, adding: "during his time in America, Mr Calderwood had one stint in rehab for alcohol."

"No drugs were recovered in the room but we found a small Martell brandy bottle which had been improvised in order to ingest crack cocaine."

In a statement Miss Sawdon said: "We will always remember Alex as a dear friend. His life's work will always live on at Ace and through the countless other 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."


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