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Hof
September 27th, 2005, 01:32 PM
Emery Roth,who designed and built so many of the upper crusty early-20th Century New York apartment buildings that line Central Park West--including The San Remo and The Beresford--also drew my New Favorite NY Hotel,The Belleclaire,a few blocks over at Broadway and 77th.
It was built in 1901 in a faux Beaux-Arts style,and it looks like a refugee from Versailles,it so French.It has a friendly doorman,a narrow,European lobby,a skinny,claustrophobic Parisian elevator that is slow as hell and a cozy,welcoming essence.
Not at all bad for $99 per night.
It's flanked on either side along Broadway by two of the premiere addresses on the Upper West Side,The Apthorp and The Ansonia (rental only,and studios start at $10,000/month),both architectural efforts of the highest degree,and in between is a neighborhood of markets and shops,theatres and bars and anything else a city dweller would need except parking.
I've stayed at The Belleclaire twice-- in May of '04 and over this last Fourth of July.Last year,the place was shrouded in scaffold so they could clean the building up.This year,the scaffolding was gone and I could finally actually see the place.
Nice job,Emery.
It's a budget hotel,so I didn't expect a suede suite,but the decor and the comfort level were very good.It's pretty well maintained for a hundred year old thing,but is is in need of a makeover.They appear to be attempting just that.When I stayed there in July,I went up on the roof where I discovered four fiberglass molds for reproductions of the gargoyles that adorn the cornice.Evidently,the original terracotta ornaments have deteriorated and need replacement.I felt kind of good when I saw that.I'm glad they are trying to stay true to Roth's vision.
The neighborhoods around the hotel knock me out.They are as busy as The Village,as interesting as Midtown,as classy as the East Side but with a Brooklyn Heights scale--and there's great Subway access.
The oldest school in New York City--The West End Collegiate School--shares the block with the hotel.That's but one of the wealth of historical gems that dot the neighborhood.
Right outside the door are twenty restaurants,all kinds.
Big Nick's,famous for pizza and burgers,sits in the base of the hotel,and across Broadway is the Manhattan Diner,one of the best breakfasts in NY( their strawberry cheesecake is a personal favorite,something I'd fly to New York just to have a slice of....).
Zabar's is down the street,and so is Ruby Foo's and a dozen other eateries,some classy and some stand-up.
Barney's is nearby,if you need to spend $70 on a t-shirt.So is Grey's Papaya,and twenty movie screens are a few minutes away.
Right next to the Beacon Theatre is a little longneck-beer-and-country-music bar,where a big pint is only $3,50 and Willie is free.One store sells nothing but popcorn.A block away is the Stand Up NY Comedy Club.
It's about equal distance to walk to Riverside Park or to Central Park,and the walk either way takes you through one of Manhattan's most architecturally varied sections.
Restaurants abound on Amsterdam Ave,just a few minutes away,and the museums in the area are rivaled only by 5th Avenue's Museum Row.
Lincoln Center is fifteen minutes South on Broadway,and walking there puts you past as many street vendors as Macy's or Midtown have to deal with.I went to see "War of the Worlds"(by Lincoln Center)two nights after it premeiered,and as I came out onto Broadway,a vendor who spoke No English had DVDs of the movie for sale!!
He also had some fine Bolex watches.
In my two stays at the Belleclaire,I've been fortunate to enjoy comfortable accommodations to return to after exhausting myself discovering Manhattan's interesting West Side.
If a potential tourist reads this,go try the place.It's not the fanciest of hotels,but for the money,it's fine.Plus,you may just discover a really interesting slice of NYC.
If a New Yorker sees this,go reccomend it to a visitor or a friend.They'll thank you.

Hof
September 29th, 2005, 10:24 AM
re:The Belleclaire...
And if a Communist reads this,Maxim Gorky,who labored mighitly to give Communists an intellectualized theory for their existence,lived at the Belleclaire for 3 years.He got kicked out for cohabitating with an actress,probably another intellectual.