It’s little secret that New York’s outer boroughs have been undergoing a renaissance over the past couple of decades, with rollicking siblings Brooklyn and Queens jostling for attention in NYC’s crowded hotel scene. No longer just a hipster mecca, Brooklyn’s grown up in a big way. Artists have been flocking to Williamsburg since the 1990s, and it’s a boom that’s spilling over into once-quiet enclaves like Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill. Queens, meanwhile, is hot on its heels – 40 hotels are currently in the pipeline, while Long Island City is fast becoming the borough’s answer to Brooklyn’s Dumbo. No wonder then, that vacationers are trading Manhattan’s mayhem for dazzling views, characterful piles, and charming neighbourhoods. Lay your head to rest in the finest boutique hotels that Brooklyn and Queens have to offer.
Opened in 2012, the Wythe Hotel remains a firm favourite of New Yorkers and out-of-towners alike. A former cooperage built in 1901, this Williamsburg waterfront pile has retained its industrial spirit. The original brickwork, pine beams, arched windows and cast-iron columns have all been preserved by Brooklyn studio Workstead, thoughtfully juxtaposed with modern design elements, including radiant-heated concrete floors and custom-designed nouveau toile wallpaper by Dan Funderburgh and Flavor Paper. A modern, ‘Tetris block’ glass and aluminium addition by New York firm Morris Adjmi Architects sits atop the original structure, offering wraparound views.
The newest kid on Brooklyn’s proverbial hotel block opened its doors in February. Designed by New York-based architecture studio Incorporated, it’s the third property and first ground-up development from the 1 Hotels group. Furnishings in the 194 guest rooms comprise hemp-blend mattresses and organic cotton sheets, composite wood tables with a porous stone look, leather chairs, marble rain showers, and pendant leather lampshades. Many of the design details in the rooms are by local artisans, from the crate-inspired, open-slatted wood closets, corrugated leather headboards, to the Fresnel glass light fixtures. The sustainably minded property – powered fully by wind energy – includes a fresh farm stand, complimentary rides in Tesla vehicles, and a nature-driven art collection. The project also encompasses the adjoining Pierhouse, comprising 106 townhome-style residences spread across two Marvel Architects-designed waterfront buildings.
Established in 2014 by dancer-turned-innkeeper Jersey Banks and Ohio transplant Lyon Porter, the Urban Cowboy shakes up the traditional bed and breakfast. The duo most recently opened an outpost in East Nashville, but it’s the original five-bedroom property in Williamsburg that first turned Banks and Porter onto the hotelier path. Exposed bricks, timber ceiling beams, midwestern fabrics, and leather Chesterfield couches add a retro yet luxurious punch to the Wild West aesthetic. The Victorian clawfoot bathtubs are especially photogenic – look no further than the inn’s Instagram feed.
Putting Queens firmly on the discerning design-lover’s map is Boro Hotel in Dutch Kills, an up-and-coming neighbourhood in Long Island City. Boro has New York firm Grzywinski + Pons to thank for its polished interiors: white oak hardwood flooring, leather furniture, and flashes of colour form a warm counterpart the building’s concrete and cinderblock bones. Each of the 108 rooms is unique, decked out in furniture and fittings by the likes of Jasper Morrison, Plumen, Hansgrohe and Muuto. Manhattan and Brooklyn are just minutes away on public transport, while the hotel is surrounded by some of Long Island City’s best cultural offerings, including MoMA’s PS1 and The Noguchi Museum. What’s more, Boro will soon welcome a new ground-floor restaurant, bar and outdoor patio, alongside a rooftop launching this August.
If art’s your thing, then The William Vale is just the ticket. In tandem with the Brooklyn Arts Council, the hotel has decorated the property with a gallery-worthy collection of art, including a site-specific work by local artist Marela Zacarias. Meanwhile, chef Andrew Carmellini and the NoHo Hospitality Group oversee the hotel’s food and drink offerings, which include rooftop bar Westlight; southern Italian-inspired restaurant Leuca; and Mister Dips, a retrofitted 1974 Airstream located in Vale Park serving up griddle-burgers and a rotating menu of seasonal dairy dips. Bonus: the hotel boasts the longest outdoor pool in Brooklyn and greater New York, at 60ft in length.
The latest addition to Williamsburg’s blossoming hotel scene, this Michaelis Boyd-designed property nods to the area’s rich industrial heritage through a palette of brick, glass and Corten steel. At its heart, the hotel is pure Brooklyn: the staff are dressed in uniforms especially designed by local sibling duo Ovadia & Sons; bath amenities are handmade in Brooklyn by small-batch factory Apotheke; and the property’s elevated, Brooklynised version of afternoon tea is led by an in-house tea director. This winter, the highly-anticipated Harvey restaurant will make its debut followed by a rooftop pool, a replica water tower bar (honouring the block’s historic wooden water tower factory), and the neighbourhood’s first grand ballroom.
Making a splash in the heart of Williamsburg, the McCarren Hotel & Pool is an urban oasis with an easy-does-it feel. Definition:Design founder Heather Maloney outfitted the hotel with mid-century furnishings by local artisans; the guest rooms were designed with simplicity in mind, expressed through a clean black and tan palette. Spanish photographer Yago Partal’s verdant Zoo Portraits pack a tropical punch in the lobby and restaurant. The main draw, as the hotel’s name suggests, is the pool – live music, cabanas, loungers and cool cocktails make it a top destination to beat New York’s sweltering summer heat.
New York real estate and hospitality firm Sela Group breathed new life into this former paper factory in Long Island City, adjacent to Kaufman Art’s District and trendy Astoria. The interiors are eclectic: think exposed brickwork, wood and polished concrete floors, and furnishings repurposed from vintage hardware and pipes. A British phone booth haphazardly pierces the lobby floor, and a nearby spiral staircase wraps a column made from 4,000 hardcover books. The coffee shop and lobby ceiling, meanwhile, were both constructed using wood salvaged from a 110-year-old barn.
Don’t be fooled by the Dazzler Brooklyn’s humdrum exterior. This 174-key hotel may be located on one of downtown Brooklyn’s busiest intersections, yet inside the Dazzler manages to conjure a stylish world unto its own. Bushwick-based Cl-oth Interiors imagined a space that marries ‘industrial Brooklyn with glamorous Manhattan’. To wit, a moody palette of smoky grey, navy blue and charcoal is lifted with gold and brass accents. Carrara marble bathrooms, Italian linens, dark wood furnishings and Apothek bath products are just some of the comforts offered in the guest rooms. Tip: be sure to stop by the hotel’s 3,200 sq ft beer garden, where local brews, neighbourhood-themed cocktails and Austrian-American bar snacks are all on the menu.
Among Brooklyn’s original boutique hotels, Nu Hotel may be edging on ten years but it’s still fresh-faced, having undergone a $1.5m revamp in 2014. New York-based firm Datumzero spearheaded the new look, which enhanced the same design premise the hotel was formed around: a simple white t-shirt with luxury jeans. The designers have kept things calm and collected with a palette of cool greys and taupe throughout. That’s not to say it’s lost its Brooklyn charm – as part of its Nu Perspectives programme, the hotel invited local artists to use guestroom walls as their canvases. It’s the new Nu.
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