Name: Annie Fitzsimmons
Location: Greenwich Village, NYC
Online homes: Blog//Twitter
Tell us what makes your blog different from all the other travel blogs out there?
I’ve really tried to carve out a niche by concentrating on hotels first and foremost, which is why it’s called Hotel Belle. I’ve always been obsessed with hotels and believe you can become someone else for a night simply by checking in and get away from your everyday life. I also live in New York and blog about where I’m eating, what I’m doing and seeing, and the many day-to-day pleasures of living in the greatest city in the world. It’s a wonderful balance to write about my city and lifestyle and then that glamorous world of hotels and travel. Food blogs have been so successful because everyone can go to their kitchen and try out a recipe. By combining New York, which is more accessible and most people have a connection or story about the city, with far-away places that I go, like India, China and the Middle East, I’ve found people really connect to both. I also travel myself. I think a lot of travel bloggers write about places they want to go. I try to always write about places that I’ve been. I also think many pride themselves on quitting their jobs and leaving their life, which I think is great for them. But I want a life in New York and to travel the world. I want home AND travel.
What are your every day, must-reads, online or off?
I love my Bloglovin’ feed, as it helps me quickly scan my favorite blogs in the morning.
I always read these first:
Nothing But Bonfires: Truly funny & relatable blog written by Holly Burns, a fabulous British chick now living in San Francisco.
Nadine Jolie: The best beauty blog and I love her writing style.
Deliciously Organic: Carrie Vitt writes a successful food blog concentrating on organic recipes and really does her research about what certain things mean, like “natural.” She is a true advocate for better health that starts at home.
Smitten Kitchen: I actually get giddy when I see Deb Perelman has a new post up. I will be first in line for the Smitten Kitchen cookbook in 2012.
Offline: there is nothing like the Sunday New York Times and my ritual in reading it! I also have way too many magazine subscriptions.
You write about hotels. What makes a hotel special?
I can tell within minute one of being at a hotel if I’m going to LOVE it. There is something that just feels good about entering the lobby. I love a great lobby that people actually hang out in from morning to night. The setting and location is absolutely number one, whether it’s tucked away on a picture-perfect Paris street or if rooms have stunning views of the Shanghai skyline, like the Waldorf-Astoria there that I recently stayed at. I love grand history in a hotel, like The Sagamore in Lake George, The Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, or the Hotel Ritz Madrid in Spain. I would love to be fly on the wall at some of these hotels that have been in operation for decades. When I don’t want to leave the property at all, I know it’s a special place, like the Four Seasons Resort in Maui, which is absolute perfection.
I hate when I feel like hotel staff are lurking around, ready to pounce on my every need. Great hotels have found a balance between being around for guests and blending into the background otherwise. A hotel experience doesn’t have to be expensive–I love B&Bs and small properties. One of the best places I’ve ever stayed was 30 Euros a night in Galway, called the Petra House. Frank was the owner and he and his wife made guests a huge breakfast every morning. I felt so taken care of by perfect strangers that felt like family when I left and I can still hear his Irish accent.
As someone who travels constantly, what’s your go-to travel outfit?
I usually wear an easy, wrinkle-free dress when I travel with a wrap or blanket and flats. And I pack heels in my carry-on. Or I’ll wear skinny jeans, my favorite Born boots and a thin zip-up hoodie if I know I don’t have to be anywhere fancy when I land. I can get through airport security in under a minute even though I tend to overpack.
Your perfect day. What would it look like?
When traveling, I like taking advantage of the day so I’ll get up early and go on marathon walks in the destination with my notebook to scout out restaurants, shops, and neighborhoods. But my absolute perfect day is a Sunday at home in New York. I’ll read the Sunday times, and decide where I want to walk. I love walking for 8-10 miles either up to Central Park and through the uptown neighborhoods, or over the Brooklyn Bridge and into Prospect Park. I love walking the West Side Highway and stopping at Chelsea Market. Brunch would be at Balthazar, Locande Verde in Tribeca, or somewhere totally new. I’d read books that I’d neglected during the week, plan what to cook that night and pick up what I need at Citarella & Lifethyme Natural Market in the Village. And I’d set up my blogs for the first couple days of the week!
Thanks for sharing, Annie!