HOTTEA And Afternoon Tea Service At The Williamsburg Hotel

The bar at The Williamsburg Hotel, photo by Annie Schlechter
The light-filled bar at The Williamsburg Hotel, with a rainbow string installation by artist HOTTEA, photo by Annie Schlechter

The neighborhood’s latest spot for swanky travelers to rest their head, The Williamsburg Hotel (96 Wythe Ave.), has partially opened over the past few weeks. Two of the eight floors of the hotel are currently open for booking, and the downstairs bar (with rainbow string art by the hottest guy in installations, HOTTEA) is open for drinks and pastries. We got to check out their tea service menu (available Friday through Sunday from 12-5pm), with baked goods by Bushwick’s Brooklyn Bread Lab.

The Lobby and front desk at The Williamsburg Hotel. Photo: Julia Moak
The Lobby and front desk at The Williamsburg Hotel. Photo: Julia Moak

You can enter the lobby bar by going down the concrete stairs in front of the hotel, or from the street level by heading down a spiral staircase once inside. The designers deserve kudos for the large windows at the front of the bar—there’s actually a lot of light that comes in despite it being subterranean. The vibe is cozy, with velvet banquettes, a soft wood floor, and vintage gold picture frames making a chevron pattern around the bar. The hotel was designed by Michaelis Boyd, who also designed the Soho House Berlin, which I’ve been inside and it makes sense; both The Williamsburg Hotel and Soho House Berlin are filled with teal tones, wood, and exude an upscale yet warm, rustic feel. And this jives with the character of the neighborhood, if Williamsburg’s identity can even be defined by anything these days. Continue reading

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Airbnb Hosts in Greenpoint Put Out of Business By New Law

Greenpoint as described by Airbnb.
Greenpoint as described by Airbnb: “Peace & Quiet, Artsy, Cultural Enclaves, Dining, Trendy, Loved by New Yorkers”.

Many local Greenpoint hosts who make ends meet by renting out their places using Airbnb are in for a rude awakening. On Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill to make it illegal to advertise entire unoccupied apartments for less than 30 days on Airbnb, according to multiple reports. New York housing law restricts short-term rentals for certain housing, and housing advocates in the city argue that many of the units listed on Airbnb are illegal. Although these hosts can already face steep fines, the new law would make it illegal for Airbnb to allow listings for these units on their platform. Continue reading

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Toxic Waste & Overachievers — The Hook-Up 10/2

Via Brooklyn Magazine

The world can’t seem to stop dumping on Newtown Creek. A company based in Bed-Stuy was caught dumping untreated industrial waste into the waterway via a bypass line, but it unfortunately wasn’t the first time.

Railroad apartment too tight a squeeze for your visiting parents? Soon, they’ll be able to lodge comfortably at a new hotel coming to Eckford Street near McCarren Park.

In case you didn’t feel behind enough in life already, here’s Brooklyn Magazine’s edition of “30 Under 30.” The plus side is that with Greenpoint so well-represented on the list, we’re all in great company. Continue reading

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Welcome to the Hotel Greenpoint

© Free Williamsburg

Early this week, we got word that a four-story warehouse on Norman and Henry St is being converted into a hotel by architect, Robert Scarano. The Department of Buildings approved the most recent plan on 5/8, which is a less than a year since the owner began evicting tenants.

The Henry Norman Hotel, as it will be called, will be run by the same people who own Box House Hotel (77 Box St). Anyone been?

As Curbed points out, “the hotel’s teaser site has a photo of some dude named Henry Wylie Norman, who has absolutely nothing to do with hotels, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, or even the United States.” Hmmm.

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Vongole & Negroni at The Elm

Vongole with Manila clam, garlic and bacon. Image courtesy of @zachgoldman0

A few seats to my right at the bar, an expensively-dressed middle-aged woman spoke loudly on her smartphone while the stoic waitstaff artfully transferred white beans from a polished steel serving tray to her wide, gleaming white plate.  Behind me in a booth, two young men chatted over $20+ appetizers, their old Nike sneakers up on the doeskin-soft leather banquette.  At another table, a couple whose combined age I’d place no higher than 30 photographed their dessert, flash on.

These were the patrons with whom I was sharing the subtle ax motif of The Elm,  chef Paul Liebrandt’s below-ground restaurant nestled in the foundation of the King and Grove hotel in Williamsburg (160 N 12th St). Continue reading

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It Ain’t Girls: The Greenpoint Hotel

Greenpoint Hotel Resident Harold Francis

With the proposed ten luxury high rises coming to Greenpoint, adding over 5000 new homes to the area, nearby residents of The Greenpoint Hotel currently live in deplorable conditions. With rents on the rise, are low income residents being victimized by landlords looking to cash in on valuable real estate?

It ain’t the Greenpoint depicted in Girls – that’s for sure.

In 2006, the NY Times described the The Greenpoint Hotel on Manhattan Ave, reporting that the “hallways stink of marijuana and urine; the bathrooms – one per floor – are caked in dirt, and hot water is rare. The front desk is barricaded shut with sheets of plywood. Theft and violence are a constant threat.” Since then, not much has changed.

Last week a public walk thru took place after 30 residents of this Single Room Occupancy (SRO) had their first court appearance to file a law suit to address violations, which were described in a Greenline article in December to include, mold, rats, sporadic heat and hot water and electrical issues. Since then, none of the issues have been addressed by the landlord.

Advocating for the residents, Greg Hanlon of St. Nicks Alliance provided us with photos from the walk thru and the following statement:

The situation at 1109 Manhattan is an egregious and unconscionable example of what has become a common trend in North Brooklyn: Unscrupulous landlords’ forcing out longtime tenants by any means possible, so that they can make more money from their buildings. In some cases, it’s harassment and intimidation; in some, neglect. In this case, it’s both.

These tenants pay around $250 to $350 a month. We’re talking about prime real estate in Greenpoint, a stone’s throw away from the proposed Greenpoint Landing Development, which will have ripple effects on property values throughout the neighborhood. Tenants have told us that the landlord, Jay Deutchman, is trying to sell the building. It’s not too hard to see what’s going on here, and what Mr. Deutchman’s motivations are.

Greenpoint Hotel Resident Bill (above) hangs his belongings to keep them out of reach of the rats.

Along with St. Nick’s Alliance, Council Member Stephen Levin was at the walk thru and had this to say:

For years, the Greenpoint Hotel has been a haven for miserable living conditions. Rats, broken toilets, and collapsing ceilings have become a part of everyday life at the Hotel so that the landlord can vacate the building and sell it. 

We cannot allow this to happen in our city. No New Yorker should be taken advantage of like this. No New Yorker should be subjected to live in this type of environment. That’s why I have called HPD repeatedly to complain about the state of the building and commend the legal action taken on behalf of the residents to make sure these conditions do not persist.

It’s fortunate that the residents of The Greenpoint Hotel have spoken up and sought help. We hope we can count on our public leaders to help improve conditions there and be an advocate for other Greenpointers in similar situations.

With housing prices on the rise in Greenpoint, will more low-income residents be mistreated like by landlords who want to raise rent? Have you or your neighbors been the victim of such neglect?

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Swanky and chic are words that aren’t in my vocabulary. It’s probably why I moved to Greenpoint. On November 1st, the Hotel Williamsburg (not to be confused with the Greenpoint Hotel) opened up on No. 12th near the McCarren Park tennis courts. I wondered if it was an actual hotel or more condos. We joked on a dog walk that we should dress up in our fancies and have a cocktail in the beautiful downstairs bar we saw by pressing our faces up against the window.

What do you know? They invited me over for a cocktail and a tour of the hotel. I parked my little red bike right out front (no valet needed) and entered the lobby check-in bar which leads to one of the hotel’s main attractions in the courtyard: a heated salt water swimming pool. Jamie, sales coordinator and tour guide (and total sweetheart) insisted the light up cubes in the yard be turned on. Hotel patrons along owners of the “Residences,” the condos affiliated with the hotel, share the pool and other hotel facilities.  A few “day passes” will also be available to outside guests and a taco truck will set-up in the warm weather.

I had a whole list of questions: how will the hotel serve the community? Who is your target demographic? How does it retain the character of the neighborhood? But I have to admit, I was speechless when Jamie took me up to the 8th Fl rooftop bar named The Watering Tower, with amazing city views. The bar will be open to the public by Spring if you want to get your swank on and for all you arty hipsters, they will have  cans of PBR. I laughed out loud to that.

The hotel rooms looked like demo rooms for the new condos in the neighborhood, with a warmer feel and plushy beds. Each room comes with a vintage Crosley record player and a mini-bar stocked with goodies from local favorites like Ovenly baked goods and Brooklyn Brewery. Supporting local producers is a good thing.

And who stays at the Hotel Williamsburg? It’s not the “hip” young folk but their parents who don’t want to sleep on the pull-outs. Jamie also explained that local businesses like Greenpoint Pictures, VICE, Tandem and Pop-Gun, fill the rooms with film and music industry people. Jaimie said that the hotel identifies with the “fashion forward music scene” and will sponsor the upcoming Northside Festival.

Then it was cocktail time! Oh wait, how will the hotel serve the community? The most obvious way is by sending lodgers to local businesses, like 5 Leaves, The Manhattan Inn, Lobster Shack and Nights & Weekends to name a few in Greenpoint. Jamie keeps a few favorites, like No Name Bar, to himself. I have to admit, I had to ask this as a follow-up question via email because the cocktails and the great company made me lose track of the interview. Jamie wrote back: “As Brooklyn’s first full-service urban retreat, we plan on boosting tourism to Williamsburg, Greenpoint … It is our goal to highlight the beauty and authenticity of the neighborhood, along with the artisans and creatives who have shaped it into what it is today.”

Now it’s cocktail time? Yes! Maddie, the friendly bartender served me an outstanding classic Sazerac, and for Jamie a signature “White Sparrow,” made with Champagne, Lemon, Spiced Rum & Velvet Falernum. I normally stay away from champagne cocktails but this was perfect, spicy but light. (Mixology video to follow.) Maddie told me her favorite spots in Greenpoint are St. Vitus and Calyer. And she is going to come as a special guest judge when we do the Greenpointers Cocktail Tour!

While sitting at the bar, which could easily be in Manhattan by the looks of it, and chatting with Jamie and Maddy, I forgot why I was there. What makes the Hotel Williamsburg a Brooklyn hotel (on the border of Greenpoint in the 11249 area code) isn’t the swanky fanciness, but the down to earth people who run the place, who treat you like you’re a guest in their neighborhood, which they are proud of, an experience that might be hard to find in Manhattan.

And that fancy bar we were peeking into is a restaurant called Pillar & Plough, where I look forward to dining and reviewing, so stay tuned.

Hotel Williamsburg
160 North 12th Street

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