Greenpoint’s Franklin Guesthouse is A Home Away From Home

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Living room area in one of the rooms at Franklin Guesthouse. All photos: Julia Moak.

Greenpoint’s not the sleepy neighborhood it was ten years ago, but you’ll still get a good night’s rest at Franklin Guesthouse.

“We try to make the rooms like a home—apartment-style—and really give you a lot of amenities you don’t get in other hotels,” said Dana Schneider, vice-president of Franklin Guesthouse (214 Franklin Street) and its sister boutiques, The Box House and Henry Norman Hotels.

And the rooms are homey. Complete with eclectic knickknacks, bathrooms boasting Italian marble, and—in most cases—a full kitchen, it’s no surprise GQ said these “furnished loft apartments make you feel like you’re house-sitting for a friend with good taste.” In response to the praise, Schneider said, “We try to hold that standard and continue it through each property.”

franklin-guesthouse-greenpoint-bedFranklin Guesthouse is the most recent of the hotel trio, debuting on the titular street back in April. Since then, it has grown with its neighborhood, hosting more than just friends and family of locals as Brooklyn’s tourism scenes blooms and bustles like Franklin itself on weekend mornings.

“We get people from all over the world,” Schneider said. “These days Brooklyn is a cultural hotspot, a place that for the last few years has come on everyone’s must-visit lists. In the beginning, there were more people coming just because it’s cheaper than Manhattan or has larger rooms, but now more and more are destination tourists.”

A kitchen in one of the rooms at Franklin Guesthouse.
A kitchen in one of the rooms at Franklin Guesthouse.

Greenpoint, it is no surprise, is quickly joining this cosmopolitan club, and Franklin Guesthouse is helping tip the cusp of this change, offering opportunity to those wishing to explore. “We feel Franklin has such a great energy—we really love Franklin Street, and we think it’s going to be one of Brooklyn’s premiere thruways. The businesses that you’re going to see more and more of on Franklin are going to be really special, and we felt this property could give us a local presence as well.”

That presence takes many forms. First, Schneider and owners Joe Torres and Simon Whitley are in the thick of acquiring a liquor license for Franklin Guesthouse’s soon-to-be in-house restaurant. By day, Schneider plans for the restaurant to offer an accessible menu and plenty of seating, creating a workspace for neighbors. By night, the restaurant and bar will feature drinks and dinner specialties.

“Our other locations were industrial properties we were able to convert, but we felt Franklin Guesthouse could give us a real presence in the neighborhood. We hope the restaurant acts as a nice meeting place and bridge between us and the community,” Schneider shared. There is also hope for the subterranean portion of the restaurant to act as an events space, allowing artists and nichey experts to display their work and share their talents.

Hallway artwork by Kip Jacobs.
Hallway artwork by Kip Jacobs.

The hotel also fosters its inter-neighborhood relationship by supporting nearby foodies and artists. Brooklyn artist Kip Jacobs supplied many paintings guests encounter in the hallways, including blue and white portraits of cityscapes seen through windows on the other side of the East River.

“Kip is a longtime friend of the company. He certainly was instrumental in the art direction of the hotels, from not only contributing artwork but also curating the apartments and putting the spaces together,” Schneider said.

Many of the foods and ingredients for sale in the rooms are also from neighboring companies, such as allspice from Greenpoint Trading Co. and chocolate covered pretzels from Brooklyn’s Fatty Sundays. And, of course, the Guesthouse’s staff is always eager to suggest their favorite bars and restaurants. (“I’m a regular at Achilles Heel,” Schneider confessed.)

franklin-guesthouse-greenpoint-living-room-02This all-inclusive, cozy experience might seem reminiscent of Airbnb, another company that is vastly transforming the hospitality industry. Surprisingly, Schneider does not see Airbnb as a butting competitor: “We love Airbnb. From the beginning we’ve always embraced them, the whole concept, and I think our locations fit to their model well. We feel really good about the direction we took because a lot of travelers are looking for something homey in their accommodations.”

After living in Greenpoint for fifteen years, Schneider’s mission might be as simple as a hope to share the neighborhood with others. “We’re bridging the gap between the real estate world we came from and being a resident here to do something great for the community and for guest coming in,” he said.

Franklin Guesthouse | 214 Franklin Street

About Billy McEntee

Billy McEntee has been fortunate to work for arts non-profits in Boston, Denver, Berkeley, and now New York. His writing has appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, Vanity Fair, American Theatre, HowlRound, Observer, and others. He's usually getting wine at Dandelion or eating cookies at Archestratus.

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