The Evolution of the Hotel Belleclaire

Last week, New York Times contributor Michael Milton described many of the changes the Hotel Belleclaire has endured since its humble beginnings in the early 20th century.   Personifying the hotel – a part of Shimmie Horn’s Triumph hotel network – he had admired it himself for so long that in 1982 he vowed “someday [to be] living in that building.”

The Hotel Belleclaire has seen many faces (including famous ones like Maxim Gorky, Babe Ruth and Mark Twain) and has also endured its share of dramatic action.  But in recent years it has undergone quite the renovation, becoming the quintessentially boutique hotel it is today. As Milton so eloquently describes:

But the lobby has since been recreated with an eye toward the hotel’s elegant past. It is now light-filled and wood paneled, with subtle dark stone insets in the walls near the elevators. After much work, the simple original mosaic — worthy of a prosperous Pompeian merchant’s home — has been unearthed. Hiding beyond a black dropped ceiling and lost to everyone’s memory was a vast expanse of glass which once covered the hotel’s fashionable Palm Court and has now been restored to its full glory.

In addition, the hotel is currently undergoing “a partial exterior restoration, an undertaking which will help bring back much of its original grandeur.”  All the changes themselves have an impact as they are happening, as Hotel Belleclaire Manager Robert Holmes said pointing out that where the limestone was from (Indiana) and how it “pulled up from a site close to one [architecture Emery] Roth used for the original limestone decorations.”

As Winston Churchill once said, “we shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.”  With this statement he must have been referring to the Hotel Belleclaire.

Getting in Shape in the New Year

Now that Christmas and the New Year and all the festivities are behind us, it’s a good time to start getting into shape.  Studies have found however, that for those who are too ambitious when it comes to establishing a fitness routine, they end up quitting all too quickly.

Starting slow is essential.  At any of Shimmie Horn’s Triumph hotels, we treat our guests to wonderful walking tours throughout Manhattan, suitable for all weathers and seasons.  In conjunction with Streetwise New York Tours, from today there are tours exploring “the hidden gems of Times Square” (from the Washington Jefferson Hotel today), fashion and art in the Financial District and classic Midtown Manhattan to name but a few.

These complimentary walking tours compliment the R&R one will get when staying at any of the Triumph hotels.

Cold Weather Activities

Yes it’s very cold.  But if you’re anything like a typical New Yorker, you’ll know how to bundle up and not have to miss out on anything the city that never sleeps has to offer, come rain or snow!  There are of course some great local cafes and other eateries for those who want to go out, but don’t want to go out and for tourists and locals alike this is a great way to people watch and enjoy the best hot cocoa.  Because that’s always fun too and will sure to please all the family.

For the braver among us, go ice-skating!  It seems crazy (and perhaps that’s why it’s free), but Bryant Park’s Winter Village features a wonderful 17,000 square-foot outdoor rink.  The only fee is the $20 for renting skates but if you have your own it’s a great free day out!  Just bundle up and think about the hot cocoa you’re going to enjoy afterwards.

Those wanting to do something a bit more meaningful, go along to the Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Now in its 32nd year, the event features a keynote speaker, gospel legend musical performances and more.

And to express your gratitude (because we should all be doing more of that), the House of Yes puts you back in the New Year’s spirit with an evening of circus acts, jubilant dancing and psychedelia.

Don’t be afraid of the cold….get out there and enjoy NYC and all it has to offer this January.

New Year’s Eve in New York City

Christmas has come and gone. But there is no doubt still that festive feeling in the air.  Perhaps it has to do with the super cold weather, or the mega store sales. Maybe it’s the fact that wherever you go you seem to come face to face with yet another spectacular Christmas tree, adorned with tinsel and lights, brightening up the entire area.  Because truly, even though the season comes but one time of the year, as B.B. King told us back in 1961, we can truly “let the good times roll.”

This year NYC seems to have outdone itself once more.  Even for those who don’t like to party so much, there’s nothing quite like Prospect Park’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display. Another non-party event is the wonderfully-guided Brooklyn Bridge Walk into the New Year.  What could be more awesome than seeing the new year in with that spectacular view?  Tours start at 10:30pm and are given in a variety of languages.

But now on to the parties.  NYC certainly has no shortage of bars and clubs and the managers there know how to throw a good party. Some ideas include: London’s Hot Chip + Simian Mobile Disco – a collaboration of “delicious disco beats with genuine heart and humor.”  Head out to Brooklyn’s Secret Project Robot for the annual Glitterballnyc NYE and party together with Joakim, DJ Shaif Laffrey  and Andi & Chase Smith.  For ravers who find themselves in NYC see the new year in with Rinsed, MeanRed, ReSolute and DJ Sprinkles among others.

And, if you partied a little too hard, there’s always the NYC Recovery Plan to get you back on track!

The Rockefeller Center Tree

A classic New York Christmas just would not be the same without the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Arriving last month in New York at the Plaza, the 75-foot tall tree – originally from Norway – is still looking glorious at the Rockefeller Plaza and will do for another few weeks.

Watch this video and learn from Dylan Dreyer how and why this specific tree was chosen for this momentous task.

New Exhibit at NYC’s Botanical Garden Annual Holiday Train Show

The New York Botanical Garden’s annual holiday train show is underway, featuring a range of model trains scattered throughout the greenery. But this year’s exhibit has a new holiday-themed feature: life-like replicas of NYC’s landmarks, all made and decorated with wood chips, leaves, flowers and other plant parts.

The new exhibit includes Coney Island, Manhattan Skyscrapers, the Empire State Building, the Hudson River and many more sites from throughout the five boroughs.

This year, the train show also includes several new locomotive models as well as a half-mile track, bridges and train sounds to create a multi-sensory experience for families.

NYC Preps for A Concert for Island Relief

NYC is getting ready to host Dave Matthews and Trey Anastasio Band for a concert in support of hurricane relief efforts in the US and the British Virgin Islands.

The concert, called “A Concert for Island Relief”, will take place on January 6th at Radio City Music Hall. Other performers will include Aaron Neville and Hurray for the Riff Raff.

Radio City is owned by the Madison Square Garden Company, who says it plans to donate the use of the venue as well as all related expenses to benefit the the victims of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, including residents of Florida and Puerto Rico. Ticketmaster has also stated its intention to contribute proceeds from its service fees as well.

Star Wars Bar Opens in NYC

A Star Wars-themed bar has popped up in NYC, with drinks like Red Force, Blue Force and the Mindtrick. The Darkside Bar has two sister bars in Washington D.C. and L.A.


Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” Breaks Auction Sale Record

A Leonardo Da Vinci painting has just broken the record for a work of art sold at an auction, at a final price of $450.3 million with fees.

The painting, “Salvator Mundi”, surpassed the 2015 sale of Picasso’s “Women of Algiers” for $179.4 million, which also took place at Christie’ Rockefeller Center HQ. The crowd was shocked by the 19-minute duel, and the winning buyer was not disclosed immediately.

Christie’s had been actively marketing the works from this year’s auction, having hired an external agency to advertise for the first time in the auction house’s history.

“It’s been a brilliant marketing campaign,” said Pyms Gallery director Alan Hobart. “This is going to be the future.”

Others are more critical of the way this campaign played out.

“This was a thumping epic triumph of branding and desire over connoisseurship and reality,” New York art adviser Todd Levin said.

The New York Times shared footage of the last moments of the bidding war:


Opera Diva Sings Highest Note in History

Opera singer Audrey Luna has broken a 130-year old Metropolitan Opera record by singing a high A note during her performance in The Exterminating Angel.

Luna is a Grammy-winning Soprano who plays Leticia in the show, which is based on the 1962 film by Luis Buñuel. After her feat, she interviewed with The Times and revealed:

“I’ve practiced up to a C above high C in the past, so I know it’s in me. But it’s just nothing I’ve performed on any stage before.”

Though it is possible that another singer has hit the note in the past, there is no known record of such an accomplishment.

Other divas have sung notes almost as high, such as a high A flat sung by Rachele Gilmore, the understudy for the role of Olympia in The Tales of Hoffman. She reached the note during her performance of “The Doll Song.” Luna has also hit the note in that very same role.