We live in the best borough in the world! Instead of spending money on a plane ticket, we decided to take a much needed staycation in Brooklyn. Hotel Williamsburg was generous to sponsor Greenpointers for a two night stay, while we toured the area. We were tempted to lock ourselves in the hotel room and listen to records all weekend. The gigantic plush king size bed was a main attraction and we found ourselves making giant Xs and saying, “I miss you, where are you?” The window from the bedroom into the bathroom made urinating very interesting and the view of McCarren Park’s red tailed hawk pair was a score! We had an intinerary, not a very ambitious one. The beauty of the staycation is you don’t have to fit it all in because there is always next weekend.
Friday night we took the East River Ferry over to Dumbo for a nostalgic ride on Jane’s Carousel. There isn’t a better view of Brooklyn than from the ferry and there isn’t a better spot for an old timey carousel than under the Brooklyn Bridge, which is housed in a modern glass building. And $2 per ride makes this a great budget attraction. Continue reading →
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.