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This Upper West Side hotel is celebrating its 110th anniversary this year -- and a history that has seen a lot of ups and downs. In its early years the Belleclaire was one of the hippest hotels in town, welcoming such guests as Mark Twain, Babe Ruth, and Maxim Gorky. The late 20th century, however, was not so kind to the Belleclaire, and its reputation declined until it entered the ranks of the budget hotel category.
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We told you back in March that the 725-room hotel formerly known as the Lexington, then Radisson Lexington, and then just The Lexington again had recruited Dash Design to handle its multi-million dollar renovation. Well, the renovation is in its final stages, and we've had a sneak peek at the results.
Omni will assume management of the hotel from Skyline Hotels and Resorts on August 1 and will also oversee the completion of the $40 million renovation to the hotel, which was built in 1903. The transformation will update the guestrooms, the fitness center, the meeting spaces and most importantly, the hotel's rooftop Crystal Ballroom which has been closed since the 1970s. This ballroom has 20-foot ceilings and views of the skyline in all four directions.
For the most part, the TripAdvisor reviews of the hotel have been kind. Although, one reviewer griped that the WiFi was not free. That will change as Omni Hotels offer free WiFi to members of their Omni Select Guest loyalty program which is free to join.
Right now, rates are going for $199 a night on August 1 but we say wait until the renovation is complete which should be sometime next year.
This once-secret bar with crazy mid-century modern design is bound to be a swank bar again
With stylin’ new Chicago hotels of all shapes and styles popping up and filing into the queue, you would think it not possible for the city’s hotel scene to get any better. And yet it does with the latest news that Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors will be designing the interiors of the Chicago Athletic Association, transforming the landmark building into a 250-room hotel by its target open date of fall 2014.
Design fanatics need no introduction to Roman and Williams, the white-hot New York design firm that has garnered much deserved attention for its remarkably thoughtful work, which has ranged from Hollywood movie sets and celebrity home design for Gyneth Paltrow and Kate Hudson to ground-up buildings like 211 Elizabeth Street. Hotel fanatics will recognize the name behind the game-changing, gritty-pop Ace Hotel in New York, The Standard NYC’s Boom Boom Room and the forthcoming Viceroy set to open across from Central Park this fall. Pop culture fiends will know the name from recent news in The New York Times, GQ, Bazaar, WSJ, etc.
Founded in 2002 by husband and wife team Stephen Alesch and Robin Standefer, the couple has an extraordinary gift for merging past with future and creating tension between unexpected objects and time periods. All that is to say, they are really really good at restoring and reinventing historic places.
Having shown you an aerial view of London's Great Northern Hotel and its integration in the redesign of King’s Cross Station, we ventured over earlier this week to find out how four years of renovation had spruced up this once-derelict 1854 hotel. Not surprisingly, its location at the intersection of six London underground (metro) lines, national, and international railway stations, means there is a hive of activity around the hotel.
Once you step through the doors and move up from the buzzy downstairs bar to the guest floors and one of its 91 rooms, all of that fades away, to be replaced by unexpected silence and lots of that new hotel smell we love so much. Three available room categories include entry-level Couchettes, top-floor Wainscots, and larger Cubitts. We could happily spend time in any of them, but to us the choice for one over the other is best based on your reason for staying and your color preference. Read on to find out why.
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You know those people who can't walk by a pet store without coo-ing over the adorable puppies in the window? Or, say, walk around a mall without popping their head in every darn shoe store? Well, that's pretty much us when it comes to cute teddy bears, and we totally fell for this little guy on a recent spin through the lobby at Singapore's Fullerton Hotel.
Dubbed the "Fullerton Bellhop Bear," he is one of four collectible stuffed animals being offered by the iconic hotel.
The complete Fullerton Bear collection includes: The Fullerton Postmaster Bear (referencing the hotel's history as a former post office), The Fullerton Bellhop Bear (pictured), The Fullerton Bay Ship Captain and The Fulleron Panda Plush Bear.
And just in case you're rolling your eyes right now at the frivolity of this post, keep in mind that the sale from each bear goes towards supporting two charities chosen by the hotel: Mainly I Love Kids (MILK), and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF- Singapore). The fundraising initiative started last year with just the Postmaster Bear, but due to its popularity, the hotel debuted the other 3 bears this past April.
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Here's something you're not likely to find at too many other hotels in New York City (or anywhere, for that matter): an old-fashioned embosser, bolted to a desk at the brand new High Line Hotel.
We think the embosser perfectly sums up the historic, literary vibe of the guest rooms, which all have custom-built furniture, classic novels, and hand-picked antique rugs. As writers, we could happily see ourselves holing up in here, typing away at our antique wooden desk as the light streams in from the east-facing window.
Despite the plethora of old-school amenities here, the embosser is hands-down our favorite feature of the hotel, and one can be found in every single guest room.
If you're wondering just what you'll be embossing, each device contains a brass plate imprinted with one of the hotel's five logos. Yes, that's right—five logos. Overkill? Maybe. But then again, when you can boast about having a custom desk embosser in every room, why not five? Heck, why not twenty?
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Over in Manhattan, New York Hilton Midtown is celebrating the big 5-0 by launching a new website that fills people in on the hotel's colorful history (did you know this was the first hotel to replace keys with keycards? Yeah, neither did we!).
But there's more happening here than just reminiscing over old black-and-white photos (see above).
Another component of the birthday celebrations are what the hotel is calling 50 Random Acts of Hospitality, which calls for New York Hilton Midtown employees to "engage in random acts of hospitality". In case you're wondering just what that means, the acts will include: offering complimentary room upgrades, handing out umbrellas on rainy days and helping guests score tickets to local attractions and events.
In other words, everything a hotel is supposed to do anyway.
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If you're feeling wistful this weekend, a good way to kick back and set out on a magical hotel journey—without ever leaving your home—is to flip through Assouline's new 160-page Luxury Collection book, which is part of their Hotel Stories series.
The Luxury Collection: Hotel Stories devotes a mini-chapter to each of the 80+ hotels under Starwood's chi-chi Luxury Collection brand. There's history, and celebrity interviews, and design details—but you can technically find those things anywhere on the internet. What really makes the book stand out are the photos. Rich, full-color, splashy images of ITC Mughal, Gritti Palace, Al Maha and tons more.
While drooling over the images, we managed to scan a bit of text too. Here are five takeaway facts about Luxury Collection we didn't previously know:
In honor of Baz Luhrman's much-hyped The Great Gatsby hitting theaters tomorrow, we've put together a list of Manhattan hotels where (we think) Jay Gatsby himself would have stayed. From art deco glamor to 1920s-themed cocktails, these are a few 'great' hotels with vintage style all of their own.
This historic hotel opened in 1929 under the name "The Lexington," then for a while it became the Radisson Lexington. Now, nearing completion of a multi-million dollar renovation, it's back to being The Lexington. The new design pays homage to jazz age glamor with "brilliant gold elevator doors, and verses from Irving Berlin's Russian Lullaby…dancing through the room." Rates from $359/night.
Jay-Z and Leonardo DiCaprio showed up at The Plaza on Wednesday night to celebrate the The Great Gatsby's premiere, which didn't surprise us at all. F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda were big fans of this hotel, and in their honor, a Fitzgerald Suite will debut tomorrow (starting at $2,800/night), featuring Art Deco furnishings, photos of the author as well as the cast of the 2013 film, the complete F. Scott Fitzgerald collection, and gramophone-shaped iPhone speakers.
As a bonus, the hotel teamed up with Moët & Chandon to create a Gatsby-inspired cocktail, made with Moët Imperial and a sugar cube soaked in green Chartreuse. The drink is available exclusively at the Plaza, and is a unique way to 'soak up' some history. Non-suite rates from $584/night.
Four more after the jump!
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The hotel, originally built in 1923, has seen plenty of stars through out the years; it was where Hollywood's movers and shakers stayed while visiting the Texas city. It has seen everyone from Elvis Presley, Judy Garland and Katharine Hepburn in its glory days, to Jessica Simpson and Lebron James more recently after a 2008 refurb.
The new owners, HEI Hotels, plan to update the lobby-bar with modern furniture and take advantage of the unique courtyard to attract Dallas' social-set to the Uptown area hotel. Already, the landmark Beaux-Arts building has changed the restaurant name to T/X, and serving up revamped Latin-American cuisine. We do appreciate when hotels give their properties a little love and spruce things up a bit, even when they're historical legends.
The last time we talked about Atlanta’s Clermont Lounge, it was during our review of Anthony Bourdain’s “The Layover”. In that episode we learned about this old-school strip club establishment whose aging dancers seemed to tickle the fancy of both Bourdain, Alton Brown and countless other celebs and tourists.
But there’s another part of the Clermont that’s been ignored--the Motor Hotel, which shut down in 2009. Built in the 1920s, the brick building became a hotel in the ‘40s and over the years fell into disrepair. It was ordered to close by health inspectors because of dirty linen, bedbugs, mold and unsanitary plumbing. It has sat abandoned while the downstairs lounge continued to operate.
In comes BNA Associates LLC, a team of Nashville and New York real estate developers determined to revitalize the Ponce de Leon Avenue place into a 98-room upscale boutique hotel set to open as early as 2014.
While some welcome the revitalization, others are more concerned about the future of the Clermont Lounge and its “talented” staff. Apparently they need not worry—for now.
"The Clermont is important to the Atlanta community, and the beloved Clermont Lounge is part of our redevelopment, as we do not plan on interfering with it," said Ethan Orley of BNA Associates.
[Photo: Clermont Hotel]