For visitors to New York, it’s always been basically unheard of to stay anywhere but Manhattan. And if you did want to come up with an alternative home base, it would have been hard to do, considering how few hotels there were in any other borough. Now, thanks to a new crop of boutique hotels—and their surrounding restaurants and shops—Williamsburg has become a viable option for visitors in search of a cool alternative to Manhattan.
When the Wythe Hotel opened last year, it brought the city’s vibe with it. From the towncars and taxis pulling up at the corner to its bustling lobby, it felt more West Broadway than Wythe Avenue. The 72-room hotel blends old and new; the building’s circa-1901 industrial details are offset with luxury amenities, floor-to-ceiling windows, and, in many rooms, outstanding Manhattan skyline views (another perk to being on the “wrong” side of the river).
The Wythe Hotel’s restaurant, Reynard, is owned by the same group that first put Williamsburg on the culinary map over a decade ago with the opening of Diner. Their newest venture offers a daily-changing menu based on farm-to-table classics. During summer months, a rooftop bar, The Ides, feels like the Brooklyn version of the Standard Hotel Rooftop.
A few blocks west and overlooking McCarren Park is the also-recently-opened King & Grove. With 64 rooms and one of the city’s best outdoor pool and lounge areas, it’s a grown-up hideout designed by a team that also has properties in Miami (The Tides), Montauk (Ruschmeyer’s) and New York City.
Each of these recent arrivals combines a chic aesthetic with the low-key, DIY spirit that the borough is known for. King & Grove offers guests complimentary bikes and stocks its mini bars with locally made snacks and spirits. Meanwhile, the Wythe takes advantage of its building’s history with its 13-foot-high original timber ceilings, beds made from reclaimed wood, locally made furniture and Goldie’s bath products, a Rockaway-based line made with all-natural ingredients.
If you want to keep dinner local, continue east to Bushwick for one of the city’s most ambitious tasting menus at Blanca (reservations required) or check out the year-old Gwynnett Street for a some of Williamsburg’s most inventive dishes. And, in case you’re thinking that no trip to New York is complete without spending time in Manhattan, the East Village is just one subway stop away.
Whit Cook is the Founder/Publisher of GoodLife Report (GLR), a lifestyle website geared towards men and women who like unique products and experiences. GLR editors have written for prominent publications and web sites including Wine Spectator, Cigar Aficionado, Travel+Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, Huffington Post, Men’s Journal and Pursuitist.