80 Wythe Ave., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York; 718-460-8000; wythehotel.com; 70 rooms from $225 (U.S.) a night.
It’s a noisy 30-minute train ride from Lower Manhattan to reach Wythe Hotel in the funky neighbourhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, but we didn’t regret the commute once the sun started to set. Our room looked toward Manhattan, and through floor-to-ceiling windows we gazed in awe at the evening sky ablaze in pink and purple hues with the Freedom Tower, Rockefeller Center and other familiar landmarks visible in the distance. Visitors don’t just come here for the sunsets, though. The Wythe has a hip, laid-back attitude that reflects the neighbourhood, and it’s walking distance from Williamsburg’s best galleries, boutiques, bars and concert halls.
Williamsburg is filled with a diverse mix of residents and modish commercial establishments where Polish delis and expensive condos are side by side with trendy bars, restaurants and coffee shops. But the north Brooklyn neighbourhood doesn’t just cater to the 23-year-old hipster – it’s also got a gentler, sophisticated side with elegant places to eat, shop and drink, all the while maintaining its cool vibe.
Built in 1901, this former cooperage has been transformed into an eight-storey, 70-room hotel. Each room has a loft-style feel: 13-foot ceilings, exposed brick and wooden beams of southern yellow pine. One wall in each room is covered with stylish wallpaper designs by local illustrator Dan Funderburgh and custom made by Brooklyn bespoke wallpaper company Flavor Paper.
Adding to the rooms’ charm and character are beds and desks made from refurbished wood, an antique mirror in the bathroom and an old fashioned-looking radio that plays your iPod.
The sparse but beautifully furnished hotel room. Stocked with local products and offering spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline, staying in our suite felt like a charming introduction to the neighbourhood and a showcase of Williamsburg’s best offerings. The minibar sells confectionery goodies from local chocolatier Mast Brothers, Brooklyn Radius beer and other items that tie back into the local scene. You immediately want to get out and explore these establishments for yourself, which can easily be done since they’re all nearby.
If I could change one thing
With the gorgeous floor-to-ceiling windows I often wondered if I was putting on a peep show for the neighbouring buildings – especially when the light hit the bathroom’s wall mirror just the right way. May we recommend a blind, a shade, something, to go over the wall mirror so as not to feel as exposed as the brick walls?
Eat in or eat out?
There is no room service so head down to Reynard, the hotel’s restaurant where the menu changes daily. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the choices are few but still impressive since fresh, local ingredients are used. Dinner began with a delightful starter of flatbread made from scratch, sprinkled with fresh rosemary and feta, and served warm with olive oil for dipping, followed by pork loin with an egg yolk on top served with shell beans, broccoli rabe and mushrooms on the side, and finally an exquisite apple tarte tatin with ice milk for dessert.
Whom you’ll meet
The cool crowd – film producers and directors, music executives, graphic designers, magazine editors and other creative arts folk who like to gather at hotel bar the Ides for drinks, DJ music and to discuss their latest projects.
Room with a view
Book a Manhattan-facing king room for that killer sunset view across the East River.
The writer was a guest of the hotel.