Actually, the Belleclaire is getting an entire new lobby (and not a moment too soon).
But a chandelier this big commands more attention than a throw pillow. And we happened to stop by as it was being positioned into place.
The new lobby is reason to cheer. It harkens back to a time when the Belleclaire was a Big Deal – a very long time ago.
As indicated by the exuberant Art Nouveau-meets-Vienna Secession exterior, the hotel opened in 1903, a showpiece by architect Emory Roth, the Rem Koolhaas of his day. Other Emory hotels, known for their flamboyant topknots and multiple terraces, included the Warwick and the Beverly (now The Benjamin ) as well as landmark apartment towers like the San Remo and the Beresford.
The Belleclaire was the W of its time, edgy and hip. Well, hip for 1903. The Russian writer Maxim Gorky was asked to leave when it was discovered the woman accompanying him was not his wife. But Mark Twain stayed as long as he wanted.
What didn’t last were the glory days. Over the years the hotel housed youth groups,
displaced persons and much worse. A rehab in 2003 positioned it as a modestly priced family-friendly hotel with Scandinavian-inflected rooms. Things perked up in 2008 when rooms were redone — drastically — and prices rose, but not too much. Since then, the trajectory has shot upward, with Frette sheets, a sleek new gym and, most recently, a smart new logo.
And one of these days, a new lobby. “Who knows?” said the doorman when we asked about the lobby’s estimated completion date. “They still have to do that part,” he said, pointing to a construction area opposite the new check-in desk.
We won’t hold our breath. But the chandelier is a good start.
Hotel Belleclaire, 250 West 77th Street between Broadway and West End Avenue. 212 362-7700. A 30 percent savings package is available this fall.